Army vet, AHS grad running for state rep

  • William LaRose, a veteran and Democrat from Athol, is running for state representative from the 2nd Franklin District. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For Athol Daily News
Published: 4/8/2020 5:25:15 PM
Modified: 4/9/2020 9:40:17 AM

ATHOL – Along with friends and supporters, William LaRose of Athol spent this past weekend gathering the signatures the political newcomer will need to seek the Democratic nomination for state representative from the 2nd Franklin District. The U.S. Army veteran hopes to capture the seat from independent incumbent Susannah Whipps, who has represented the district since 2015.

LaRose spoke recently to the Athol Daily News regarding his rationale for running.

“My entire adult life I’ve been in public service,” he explained. “I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines. As an Army officer, it’s kind of ingrained into us to take the initiative. So, if you see a problem, you see a challenge, or you see something you want to change, we’re taught to step up. So, that’s what I’m doing.

“I grew up in Athol; fifth generation. Especially in the wake of the coronavirus, we’re going to need public servants. We’re going to need leaders. And, so, that’s why I’ve decided to run.”

The 2010 graduate of Athol High School is basing his platform on a platform of “rural revitalization.”

“I think it’s a platform this region needs,” he said. “It’s long overdue. And while I respect Rep. Whipps for standing up and serving, I think we need a clearer vision. I think we need more tireless leadership, and I think I’m the person who can bring that.”

LaRose says the “three pillars” of his rural revitalization platform are education, economic development, and infrastructure.

Despite running as a Democrat, LaRose believes party labels are essentially irrelevant.

“To me, whether there’s a ‘D’, an ‘R’, or an ‘I’ in front of the name, I’m here to lead,” he said. “Political party doesn’t really matter to me. We’re all Americans, right? And especially in these local and state elections, to me, that’s what matters. I think people are put off by party labels.”

After serving on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army, LaRose has spent the last two years completing his studies at Cornell University’s Cornell Institute for Public Affairs in Ithaca, N.Y. He currently is a member of the New York National Guard. LaRose’s military rank, titles or photographs do not imply endorsement by the U.S. Army or Department of Defense. His father teaches history at Athol High School and his mother works as a nurse in Leominster.

The 2nd Franklin District, is comprised of 12 mostly-rural communities stretching from Belchertown to Phillipston, and also includes Athol, Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Petersham, Royalston, Templeton, Warwick, and Wendell.

Whipps was first elected to the seat as a Republican in 2014, but changed her party affiliation in 2017. In 2018, Whipps defeated the Democratic nominee, Amherst College senior John Arena, by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.


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