Longtime state Senator Susan Fargo, who sponsored legislation to ban smoking in the workplace, announced today that she will not run for re-election.
Fargo, who is currently serving her 8th term representing the Third Middlesex district, had said in November that she planned to run again. But today she said she has decided she would prefer to go out at “the top of my game,” and her change of heart will leave her seat up for grabs in the state election this fall.
“I will have been in the senate for 16 years,” said Fargo, referring to when her term expires at the end of this year. “I think it’s time to move on. I wanted to make a decision so that anybody else who’s interested and has something to offer can begin laying the groundwork" to run for the seat.
Lexington Democrat Mike Barrett, a former state senator and gubernatorial candidate, announced last fall that he would run for the seat, and on the Republican side Concord Selectman Greg Howes and Tea Party activist Sandi Martinez, of Chelmsford, have announced bids for the seat.
The district covers Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Lexington (precincts 3, 8, and 9), Lincoln, Sudbury (precincts 1 and 4), Waltham, and Weston.
The deadline for candidates to return nomination papers for the race is May 1, and the primary election will be Sept. 6, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.
Barrett said Friday that Fargo’s early withdrawal from the race was a “classy act” that ensures there will be a competitive race for the seat. He said expects other Democrats will now consider joining the race, and he welcomes them into the fray.
Fargo, who said she’s in her 60s, has served as the chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, and said she’s contemplating whether to continue her career by pursuing remedies for racial and ethnic health disparities.
Among a long list of legislation and laws she helped pass during her tenure, Fargo highlighted legislation she sponsored to ban smoking in the workplace to protect workers from the long-term dangers of smoke inhalation. The statewide ban kicked in during 2004, and she said research has shown the ban has saved hundreds of lives and saved millions of dollars in health care costs, she said.
“This is why you can go to a club or a bar and spend an evening and come home and you don’t smell like an ashtray,” she said. “I think it’s a sign of passing good health policy that you can actually demonstrate has results.”
The senator also pointed to more than $200 million she help secure for school construction and renovations projects in her district, legislation she co-sponsored that led to the widening of Route 3 North with sound barriers, writing the the state's Video Voyeur Law making non-consensual video surveillance a crime, and writing the state's Police Bulletproof Vest funding law to replace 9,000 defective vests
worn by state and local police officers.