LENOX, Mass. — In recent elections, the Green Rainbow Party has come closer and closer to securing a seat on Beacon Hill and Lee Scott Laugenour is launching another attempt to become the party's first representative.
Laugenour is gathering signatures and expects to host an official campaign launch in the coming months. After falling short in 2010 for the House's 4th Berkshire District, Laugenour says the campaign is "stronger" than ever before.
"We're stronger and more experienced," Laugenour said on Thursday. "The campaign is stronger, we are stronger. Our strength comes from the people."
A fundraiser last year has already put the party ahead, he said. Laugenour said he is starting this campaign with as much money as he spent all of the last election. With that, he has hired a campaign manager, which he lacked during the last run.
"We saw the need for an effective manager and are now strong enough to hire one," Laugenour said.
Laugenour plans to host an official launch at the end of May to take on Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who defeated Laugenour by a sound margin of 652-159 in 2010. Laugenour says the campaign is not "against" Pignatelli but more a shake up in "politics as usual" to increase the number of voices in government.
"We have a real deficit of democracy," Laugenour said, adding that at this point the 4th Berkshire District appears to be the only contested race. "It's not a campaign against anybody."
Laugenour was also involved in Mark Miller's campaigns in 2010 and in the 2011 special election for the 3rd Berkshire District. Miller fell less than 200 votes short last year of becoming the Green-Rainbow Party's first state representative, an increase from his 2010 bid in which he was barely 1,000 votes shy.
Laugenour said his campaign will be built on sustainable energy policy, health care reform and a general need for different voices.
"Politics as usual isn't serving the community," Laugenour said. "We're just in a downward spiral right now. It's a big money, corporate-dominated structure."
Laugenour says a single-payer health care system is the "obvious" solution to growing health care costs but it is not being enacted because of the "big money" in politics.
"Fifty percent of our budget goes to health care and the solution is obvious but is being thwarted," he said. "We're not making progress."
As for energy, Laugenour supports all types of green energy. While drilling for oil is not done much in Massachusetts, the country is drilling just as much as it always has despite an emphasis on green energy. The state needs to discuss even more green options.
"Is it wind, solar, geothermal? It's probably a combination of them all," Laugenour said. "Let's give our communities a goal to reduce their carbon footprint."
However, he opposes a controversial wind siting bill that officials claimed would streamline the permitting process for wind turbines because of the lack of local control.
"It was allowing a three-member panel to be the voice of the community," Laugenour said. "It's a little bit of a house of cards."
Laugenour said there needs to be more discussions and options for communities to pursue green energy.
"We're all about finding solutions," Laugenour said. "We're supercharged and excited."
Laugenour has just about enough signatures to place him on the ballot and he is just getting them certified now. He expects to be on the ballot on May 15.
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The state is holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by John F. Kerry, who has been confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
The state primary is Tuesday, April 30. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary is Wednesday, April 10. Enrolled voters may only vote in their party primary; unenrolled voters may select a primary to vote in without changing their status.
The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25. The last day to register to vote in the election is Wednesday, June 5.
To register to vote, one must be at least age 18 by the date of the election, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the municipality in which you are voting.