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Vega to challenge Kane for seat

Date: 2/22/2012

Feb. 22, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — City Councilor Aaron Vega said his run for the state representative seat currently occupied by Michael Kane isn't about Kane's record, but rather the future of Holyoke.

"It's not about me. It's not about Mike. It's about where Holyoke is today," Vega told Reminder Publications.

Vega officially announced his candidacy last week.

He said he is looking forward to a "healthy discussion" of issues with Kane during the campaign. Since both men are Democrats, the election will be decided in a primary conducted in September.

Vega, a Holyoke native who returned to the city to open a small business, Vega Yoga and Movement Arts, won a city council seat in 2009 and re-election last year.

During his announcement on Feb. 14, Vega said, "Holyoke is moving forward and we are living in a time of great opportunity. Having worked tirelessly for the past three years with a wide range of non-profits, business leaders, educators, planners, public safety officials and other individuals, I have a unique understanding of the challenges and potential facing my hometown today and what it will take at the state level to keep moving Holyoke forward."

Noting the changes in the city politically and its development, he said, "I feel that right now the energy, momentum and spirit in Holyoke is really great."

Vega said that if elected he would urge the state to look at successful programs at the municipal level on issues such as childhood obesity and better access to healthy food rather than seeking to establish and fund new program.

"We don't need the state reinventing the wheel," he said.

Vega noted that there are programs on the municipal level that are funded by state grants that disappear when the funding is gone. He would work to have a greater accountability to insure that successful programs are refunded.

There is a cycle, he noted, of organizations relying on continued allotment of Community Development Block Grants that he would like to challenge. Instead of "banking" on the funding, Vega would like to see more non-profit organizations build better relationships with private donors.

He believes there is a "disconnect" between the state and local cities and towns and he would work to "give municipalities more breathing room, especially around education."

Like Mayor Alex Morse, Vega does not see a casino in the city as a viable part of its future economic development. A casino would go counter to the present efforts for the revitalization of neighborhoods and the high tech development of the city, he added.

"A casino would not help small business," he said. "I applaud the mayor for sticking to his guns.

Kane told Reminder Publications that he will be formally announcing his re-election effort in the spring and right now he is focusing his efforts to finish the work the House is currently considering such as the next fiscal year budget and health care legislations.

For more information on Vega's candidacy, go to

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