Sossa-Paquette, challenger to U.S. Rep. McGovern, unconventional GOP candidate

  • Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 10/6/2021 2:12:01 PM
Modified: 10/6/2021 2:12:04 PM

ATHOL – The next election for congress is still over a year away but Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette has already spent five months trying to build support for an attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.

Since announcing his candidacy in May, no other Republicans have come forward to announce a challenge to the Worcester Democrat. According to Sossa-Paquette, the time is long overdue for a change in representation for residents of Massachusetts’ 2nd congressional district, which includes all of North Quabbin.

“He’s been in the seat for 24 years,” Sossa-Paquette told the Athol Daily News, “and at the end of this cycle it will be 26. And when we really look at him, he got to D.C. in 1977 to go to college, became a staffer, and then our congressman. So, Jim has never left Washington, D.C. since 1977.”

Despite the difficulties inherent in trying to unseat a longtime incumbent, Sossa-Paquette says he plans on engineering an upset. His campaign, he explained, has been a long time coming — delayed by serious medical issues.

“I was supposed to run in the last cycle,” he said, “but unfortunately I had to suspend my campaign. I learned I had three brain aneurysms, so I had to go through a year and half of brain surgery to get them removed. I had four surgeries and it took a year to learn how to speak again.”

His final surgery was in December 2020, and two months later he decided the race was on.

Among his reasons for running is a desire to address the problem of the country’s debt.

“We need to recognize, from the standpoint of millennials, if we’re going to be honest” he said, “is that we stole that generation’s future as far as the debt went. They have every right to be as angry as what we’re witnessing today. And we can’t just pile on that debt.

“I think there’s plenty of blame to go around — both Republican and Democrat.”

Sossa-Paquette also wants to make changes in the programs designed to help the poor, especially single mothers. He explained that he’d like to see single mothers continue to receive some level of assistance, even if they’re able to get an education and move into the workforce.

“Just because they’re working, they may not be making enough to meet the needs of their family,” he explained. “So, you can’t pull the rug out from under her.

“I’m focused on a step-down program that basically says ‘leave that mother alone. Let her income rise. Don’t pull the rug out from underneath her and let her rise into the middle class. Give her children the ability to go to college on a voucher program.

“When we do that, we’re lifting both generations. We’re lifting mom up, and we’re holding her kids up, hopefully breaking that cycle of three or four generations being tied up in different social programs.”

Sossa-Paquette faulted McGovern for continuing to vote for programs which, the challenger claims, keeps people trapped in the social safety net.

Despite his concern over the deficit and the cost of social welfare programs, Sossa-Paquette said another issue occupies the top of his priority list.

“Human trafficking — sex trafficking of women and children — is my number one,” he said. “We have 18 to 22 million women and children — and men — trapped in either work slavery, meaning they’re working, and someone is taking their checks, or they’re part of the sex trade.

“The whole industry is $141 billion worldwide. One-hundred-billion of that is right here in American,” he claimed, “and America is not free as long was we have slavery in America. We cannot say we’re a free nation.”

Sossa-Paquette faulted McGovern, co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, for not doing more to address the issue.

Regarding some of the issues currently before Congress, Sossa-Paquette said he could support the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill “as long as it’s all for infrastructure — roads, bridges, broadband. We can’t afford to waste it on items that don’t support infrastructure.”

He said is flatly opposed to the reconciliation package currently being hashed out by the Democrats.

Paquette grew up on a farm in Rochester, New Hampshire, and moved to Massachusetts at age 18. An entrepreneur, he is 51 and lives in Shrewsbury with his husband, Julian. They are the parents of two children — Ashley, 19, and Ryan, 10.

Earlier this year, Deborah Martell of Ludlow — a member of the Republican State Committee — was quoted in an email obtained by The Boston Globe as saying of Sossa-Paquette: “I heard he was a ‘married’ homosexual man, who adopted children. I was sickened to hear this.”

In the wake of her comments, a number of GOP officials called for her resignation.

“I had the Republican Party come after me for being gay and married. It didn’t hurt me, but it cost them thousands of dollars in donations.

“I might be a Republican,” Sossa-Paquette told the Athol Daily News, “but I am not so loyal to party that I cannot do what’s right for my constituents. That’s who’s voting for me — not a party.”

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