Third Hampden race heats up

SOUTHWICK – Democrat Sam Di Santi is challenging incumbent State Representative Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) in the November election and one of his claims is that Boldyga’s seat on the Massachusetts American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is detrimental to the constituents of the 3rd Hampden District, which represents Agawam, Granville, Russell and Southwick.
Not so, says Boldyga.
“ALEC is a bipartisan volunteer organization that promotes free markets and limited government,” Boldyga said. “It is not unlike other organizations for legislators and elected officials, such as the Massachusetts Municipal Association and Massachusetts School Committee Association.”
Di Santi paints a different picture of ALEC and called Boldyga’s position as the state co-chairman of ALEC “dubious.”
“According to the Center for Media and Democracy, the educational goals of the ALEC organization are to privatize education and undermine teachers’ unions. (ALEC Exposed.org) ALEC is an organization of corporations who submit ‘model bills’ to legislators in an effort to further their respective corporate agendas,” Di Santi stated recently.
Boldyga said ALEC does not create laws and he supports public education.
“Massachusetts has led the nation in education,” he said. “If ALEC has played a part in education in Massachusetts, I’m very proud of that.”
Boldyga said Massachusetts is ranked number one in reading and math proficiency for low-income students in grades four and eight, something he said he is also proud of in this state.
“Before our final session, I supported a third grade reading proficiency bill,” said Boldyga.
Boldyga said ALEC consists of 2,000 legislators nationwide and is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans. Boldyga’s co-chairman on the Massachusetts ALEC is Democrat Harriet Stanley of West Newbury.
Di Santi also touts Boldyga as the chairman, however, Boldyga stressed that he is the co-chairman.
Di Santi believes Boldyga’s seat on the House Higher Education Committee is also a detriment.
Di Santi said Boldyga uses that seat “to undermine higher education in the Commonwealth by supporting ALEC-backed initiatives. ALEC undermines higher education by lobbying elected officials to provide taxpayer subsidies to private – often corporate-funded – institutions that support the ALEC agenda. Further, ALEC supports an Educational Bill of Rights that penalizes students for spending longer than four-years in higher education – something detrimental in this economy,” said Di Santi.
The ALEC website, alec.org, states that “For more than 35 years, ALEC has been the ideal means of creating and delivering public policy ideas aimed at protecting and expanding our free society. Thanks to ALEC’s membership, the duly elected leaders of their state legislatures, Jeffersonian principles advise and inform legislative action across the country. Literally hundreds of dedicated ALEC members have worked together to create, develop, introduce and guide to enactment many of the cutting-edge, conservative policies that have now become the law in the states. The strategic knowledge and training ALEC members have received over the years has been integral to these victories.”
Di Santi maintains that ALEC is just not good for residents.
“ALEC, for decades, has succeeded in getting hundreds of laws on the books that directly benefit corporations – at the expense of average citizens like you, and often, out of the public eye. ALEC writes ‘model bills,’ passed in state after state – and leaves behind no fingerprints,” he said.
WGBY recently aired what Di Santi called an “expose” of ALEC by Bill Moyers.
“There isn’t anything good that can come from an organization like ALEC. This is the Tea Party Extremist ideals of our current state representative,” said DiSanti.
Boldyga said ALEC does not undermine education, or any other issue, and is a bipartisan organization.
“ALEC is just like any other legislative group – we get together over concerns – whether it is educational concerns or environmental concerns,” Boldyga said.
Boldyga also said he has not brought forth any bills on behalf of ALEC.
The two candidates will face-off in a debate sponsored by the West of the River Chamber of Commerce at the Roberta Doering School, 68 Main St., Agawam, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

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