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Warren rallies support for campaign in Holyoke

Date: 10/17/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — In a post-debate stop in the Paper City, Elizabeth Warren made a point of visiting the Holyoke Fire Department and underscoring that her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, had voted against legislation that would have kept public employees, such as firefighters, employed.

Warren made those remarks after first visiting Old San Juan Bakery on High Street. She was greeted by a capacity crowd at the bakery that included City Councilors Aaron Vega and Anthony Soto. Former Speaker of the House and Holyoke Community College President David Bartley was on hand as well as former Mayor Martin Dunn and State Rep. John Scibak.

Outside of the store, a group of four people chanted messages of support both in English and Spanish. In a pause, one of the group said with a smile, "Scott Brown, two more weeks to go!"

Warren then walked down the street to the new Fire Department accompanied by Congressmen Richard Neal and John Olver as well as Mayor Alex Morse and other supporters.

Waiting down the street was a firefighter in civilian clothes who held a sign signifying union support for Warren. "That's my man," Warren declared. "That's my man!"

Gifts were awaiting her inside the fire station of a hat and sweatshirt, the latter Warren almost immediately donned on the cool day.

After a tour of the station, Warren said she was there to demonstrate the importance of investment and to call attention to Brown's lack of support last year for a jobs bill that would have secured 22,000 jobs in the Commonwealth but would have raised taxes on those making more than a $1 million.

When asked about how she could help grow the precision manufacturing sector in Western Massachusetts, she said "I really do see this [precision manufacturing] as the future of the Pioneer Valley."

Warren said there were many "pieces" to this issue, the first one being the "importance of a well educated workforce" which would begin with investments in elementary schools all the way to public universities.

An educated workforce would attract more precision manufacturing, which would in turn attract more qualified workers to the area.

"It's a virtuous circle," she said.

Additional investment needs to be made in public infrastructure and communications to attract businesses, she said.

The final part is investing in research and development, vital to the precision manufacturing field.

"I want to say here we have we have the comparative advantage," she said.

She also called for more federal investments into community colleges, which she said were "stuffed to the gills" with students. Warren went to a community college herself and described herself an enthusiastic supporter of the schools.

Speaking about potential cuts to the military and possible reductions to Westover Air Reserve Base.

"Our bases shouldn't be cut in an across-the-board slash. What we need to do is to use this opportunity to do two things. First we've got to bring the budget into balance and we've got to start paying down the deficit and that means a balanced approach of cuts and increases in revenue — asking those you can to pay their fair share."

Warren would to see "targeted cuts" to "fit our defense needs going forward." There are some areas that could be cut — such as the size of the standing army — and areas that she believes should be increased, such as research and development and cyber security.

She would fight to preserve the C-5As at Westover.

She offered a reaction of the debate between her and Brown and said, "I thought it was a terrific debate and I want to congratulate Springfield."

She said the issues that were raised had significance not only for Western Massachusetts, but also for people across the nation.

"I was glad to have that exchange," she said.