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One of just four Republicans in the Senate, Sen. Michael Knapik plans to resign at the end of the week to join his hometown Westfield State University as the new executive director of advancement.
Knapik is serving his 10th term in the Senate and previously served two terms in the House, giving him more than two decades of experience in the Legislature.
Respected on both sides of the aisle, Knapik has been the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee since 2001 and has served on more budget conference committees than any other lawmaker.
“I love the Senate. It’s been part of my professional career path for two decades. I don’t think I would have done this two years ago but I was intrigued by what the position entailed and what they were looking for at the university,” Knapik told the News Services Monday morning, suggesting Westfield State University is on the “frontline” of educating the new workforce in western Massachusetts.
Knapik said he first applied for the job in April, and was offered the position last week after several rounds of interviews.
“I know of no other public figure in Massachusetts more widely regarded for his bi-partisanship and resolute integrity than the Senator,” Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle said in a statement.
Usually a vocal critic of tax hikes, Knapik turned heads in July when he voted to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a $500 million tax-raising bill in part to ensure funding for investments in his district, including Westfield State University. Knapik also broke from his Republican counterparts to vote in favor of the $34 billion state budget.
Dobelle said he was not involved in the hiring process until the search committee presented Knapik as a finalist for the position. The president called Knapik’s interview “extraordinary.”
Part of Knapik’s new job will be to work with the Westfield State Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money and manages charitable gifts for the university.
“His passion for Westfield State and his personal reputation and leadership will bring the Foundation, as we begin our 175th anniversary celebration, to never before seen success,” Dobelle said.
The university said Knapik plans to resign on Friday, triggering yet another special election for a legislative seat.
In addition to the U.S. Senate race won by Sen. Edward Markey, taxpayers this year are footing the bill for seven special legislative elections, including three that are ongoing, to replace lawmakers who have left for other jobs or to seek higher office. A special election to fill Knapik’s seat would be the eighth legislative special election.
The state budget that Knapik helped negotiate included increased investments in public higher education to avoid fee and tuition hikes on public university campuses across the state. It is not immediately clear who might run for Knapik’s seat, though there may be interest from members in the House who live in the district.
Knapik’s Second Hampden and Hampshire District includes Holyoke, Westfield, parts of Chicopee and the towns of Agawam, Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick ,Tolland, Easthampton and Southampton.
Rep. Donald Humason (R-Westfield) told the News Service Monday that he plans to run for Knapik’s seat.
This program aired on August 5, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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