Monday, February 18, 2008

Knuuttila kicks off the campaign in Clinton

knuuttila clinton 3I took an hour or so this afternoon to head to Clinton town hall to catch the final stop on the "Brian Knuuttila for State Senate" announcement tour.

Former State Rep. Knuuttila spoke off the cuff for about 15 minutes. The theme of his remarks centered around the need for the cities and towns of the district to work together on goals common to the district, and to iterate that he is the candidate who can best represent the smaller town in the district, such as Clinton, Sterling and Lancaster. He suggested that his experience representing small towns such as Ashby, Winchendon, and Ashburnham made him the best qualified to represent the Southern part of the district.

It was in this vein that Knuuttila criticized Leominster Rep. Jennifer Flanagan, the only other candidate that has announced thus far. He said that Flanagan won't be able to get up to speed on the issues of small towns--listing Lancaster, Sterling, and Townsend among others--having only represented the city of Leominster.

Knuuttila claimed a number of supporters in Clinton including Selectman Robert Pasquale, former Selectman Steve Mendoza, and Esteban Mendoza of the Parks and Recreation Committee. He also mentioned that he had strong support in Fitchburg, listing former Republican Mayor Dan Mylott and current Representative Stephen DiNatale among his supporters (In their coverage of the announcement event in Fitchburg, the Fitchburg Pride wrote that Mylott has not yet decided on an endorsement. They do not list DiNatale among Knuuttila's supporters).

Following his remarks, a few of us hung around and talked with the candidate for a few minutes. I mentioned to him that I hoped that we could turn Sterling into a Democratic town someday, and Knuuttila suggested that it would take a conservative Democrat like him to win small rural towns like Sterling. I'd prefer to see a progressive Democrat catch fire in the district, but I'm not sure that is realistic.

knuuttila clinton 1There were 28 voting-age people at the rally, and frankly I don't know how many of them were voters from Clinton, Sterling, etc. and how many were supporters and family members from Gardner, Fitchburg, etc. After the rally broke up, a number of the supporters were looking for directions out of Clinton, suggesting to me that they were along for the ride and to hold signs for the cameras (to Knuuttila's credit, he knew how to get home, giving correct directions out of Clinton and back to route 190). My guess is that there were fewer than a dozen of us from the Southern part of the district (if that many).

One memorable moment at the announcement was when Knuuttila's granddaughter found something more interesting than her Grampy's speech, and took off into the street toward Central Park. The candidate saw the little girl heading into trouble, broke out of his speech, and ran into the street to pull her out of harm's way. I'm not sure if Knuuttila will be a frontrunner for the senate seat, but he's a leading candidate for Grandfather of the Year.

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