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Marlborough residents react to Tsongas’ retirement, eye 2018 election

By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. Photo/submitted

Marlborough – Marlborough residents reacted with a mix of surprise, sadness, gratitude and excitement to the news that U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) will not run for reelection in 2018.

Tsongas announced Aug. 9 that she will leave Congress next year after 10 years spent as the representative of Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District. Mere weeks after her announcement and more than a year from the end of her final term, many of Tsongas’ Marlborough constituents hold conflicting opinions about her time in Congress and the path forward for the district she leaves.

Initially surprised by this news, Kirk Hurley, chair of the Marlborough Democratic City Committee, has now lauded Tsongas for what he described as her commitment to “constituent-oriented politics” and her professionalism in a polarized political arena.

“I don’t think anybody had an indication she was not going to seek reelection, but she’s done a fabulous job of representing the district,” Hurley said.

Paul Ferro, meanwhile, chair of the Marlborough Republican City Committee, criticized Tsongas and the Democratic Party for what he views as a failure to reach across the aisle. Likewise, he celebrated the opportunity for a Republican candidate to join the Massachusetts delegation to the House of Representatives.

“She was anything but bipartisan,” Ferro said.

On the topic of total Democratic control of the Massachusetts house delegation, he noted, “That’s detrimental to the commonwealth. It’s bad for us. It’s bad for everyone involved and I think it’s important that we have a mixed delegation that will actually have some influence in Washington.”

Democrats have, indeed, held all of Massachusetts’ seats in the House of Representatives since 1997 according to Ballotpedia. Tsongas, however, has only held her seat since 2007.

She won her seat in a hotly contested special election that year that focused substantially on candidates’ Iraq War policies. Over the years, however, she worked to pass legislation regarding other issues including health care, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights.

In holding her seat as the representative of a district that now stretches from the New Hampshire border to Marlborough, Tsongas has worked to maintain close ties to her constituents.

“I would say that she did a journeyman’s job of being a constituent-oriented congressperson,” Hurley said. “Her staff would contact us or respond to anyone who called. If you wrote a letter to her she would respond.”

She held numerous town hall-style meetings, including a recent one in June which Hurley himself moderated. But while Hurley celebrated his representative’s connections with her district, Ferro disagreed, calling attention to her city office in the Walker Building.

That office is only open for two hours each week – Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., according to Tsongas’ website. While Ferro noted that Tsongas does not need to maintain any office in Marlborough, he wished her day-to-day connection to the city were larger.

Though they may disagree about Tsongas’ accessibility among other things, both Hurley and Ferro have their eyes set on the 2018 election to replace her.

“I’m going to be looking for someone who is going to be a strong advocate for economic development not just in the area but in the state. I’m going to be looking for someone who is a strong advocate and is progressive in terms of most social issues,” Hurley said, adding that he also wants the Democratic Party to choose a candidate who will stand up against the racism and violence that sparked last month’s deadly riot in Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, Ferro is focused on simply seating a Republican in the Massachusetts delegation.

“By and large, I want a candidate who is going to be able to put on a good race, who can have volunteers and good financial recourses to make this race competitive,” he said.

Voters will ultimately choose Tsongas’ successor when they go to the polls next November for the 2018 midterm elections.

But even as her own constituents review her service to date and prepare to make that choice next year, Tsongas’ chief of staff Katie Enos said her boss fully intends to work hard throughout the rest of her term, adding that she will “remain focused on the issues she has been working on throughout her professional career.”

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=92802

Posted by on Sep 4 2017. Filed under Byline Stories, Marlborough, This Just In. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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