The Once and Future Candidacy of David Bartley…
What is in a name? In a low turnout, GOTV-driven election like tomorrow’s primary, it could count for a lot. David K. Bartley, the Ward 3 Councilor from Holyoke running in tomorrow Democrat’s primary, probably hopes it will help scoop up enough votes to win tomorrow across the diffuse Second Hampden and Hampshire Senate district and defeat Easthampton Mayor Mike Tautznik.
The Holyoke Councilor is not particularly well known in his own right outside of Holyoke except for a campaign twenty years ago for the same state senate district. He lost the primary to now-Chicopee mayor Michael Bissonnette, who in turn lost to Mike Knapik.
However, Bartley’s father, David M., achieved notoriety as the Massachusetts House Speaker while representing Holyoke. The elder Bartley, who has been a force in the son’s campaign, also served as President of Holyoke Community College for years and ran for Senate against John Kerry in the 1984 primary.
His father’s connections no doubt led to Bartley picking up support from around the region. Among his backers are former Agawam State Rep. Rosemary Sandlin and former Senator Linda Melconian, whose district used to include Agawam, now in 2nd Hampden and Hampshire. Bartley also got a big boost from Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe.
Aside from the debates, where some of Bartley was fleshed out, there is a relatively scant record to evaluate. His positions appear roughly consistent from his 1994 campaign, but to view those accounts as much more than stale is only fair. His website offers little insight into the issues. During the debate, Bartley employed several tried and true rhetorical flourishes in his appeal to voters.
A representative of the Bartley said the candidate was unavailable for an interview before the primary.
At the time of his 1994 bid, he had worked for a number of economic development groups in Springfield, including Brightwood Development Corp and Springfield Central Inc, which disbanded shortly after the election. Since then, his name came up for various elected positions, including a challenge to then State Rep. Evelyn Chesky before he was elected in 2011 to an open Council seat. In that time, he also earned a Law Degree and opened up a practice and worked for then-Auditor Joseph DeNucci.
Colleagues like Aaron Vega, Holyoke’s State Rep and an at-large Councilor concluding his final term on the Council, said Bartley “works hard and is up to the task.” But other than Vega’s words, Bartley has not come out with a whole lot of Holyoke big names except that of former mayor and state senator Martin Dunn.
Part of this is likely because virtually the entire city is up for reelection in a nonpartisan race. Therefore, it suits the local pols best to stay out of the line of fire and concentrate on their own races at least until after the primary.
On the Holyoke City Council, Bartley’s tenure has not attracted much notice from The Republican, although this is hardly a complete accounting of his time there. Press accounts of high profile votes do not seem to consign him as a particular opponent of Mayor Alex Morse’s initiatives. His votes included for cuts to the Quinn Bill and the Council’s stipends.
Bartley and Tautznik have mostly stuck to the issues, if a bit passionately so. Should Bartley prevail tomorrow, his record on the Council and before is likely to attract scrutiny from Republicans eager to keep their ranks from thinning any further in the Senate.