Special election scheduled to fill Rep. Benson’s seat

State Rep. Jennifer Benson has announced she is stepping down from her House seat to take over the president’s position for the Alliance for Business Leadership.

BOSTON — A special election to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seat of state Rep. Jennifer Benson has been scheduled for March 31, according to Secretary of State William Galvin.

Benson, a Lunenburg Democrat, has represented the 37th Middlesex District since 2009. Earlier this month she announced she would step down effective Jan. 8 to become the president of the Alliance for Business Leadership, a progressive industry trade group.

Besides Lunenburg, the district includes Shirley, Harvard and Boxboro and parts of Acton and Ayer.

The election will fill the seat for the remainder of the two-year term, which ends in January 2021. The primary is scheduled for March 3, the same day as the presidential primary.

Nomination papers must be filed with local voter registrars by Jan. 21 and with Galvin’s office by Jan. 28. Candidates need a minimum of 150 certified signatures to run. Papers are available at the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division at 1 Ashburton Place in Boston and at Boxboro and Harvard town halls.

Benson is the chair of the Health Care Financing Committee in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She has been leading the current effort to create a health care bill to control costs and improve access to care, without reducing coverage, according to a State House News Service report. A similar effort failed last session.

Benson is expected to start her new position on Jan. 13. According to the Alliance for Business Leadership, Benson will work on issues related to clean energy, transportation, housing and workplace opportunities.

Benson has run unopposed since 2012. In 2008 and 2010 she won against Republican Kurt Hayes of Boxboro.