Three vie for 10th Hampden seat
SPRINGFIELD – The three candidates for the state representative seat for the 10th Hampden District all spoke of their working class roots during a recent forum sponsored by the Forest Park Civic Association.
Carlos Gonzalez, Melvin Edwards and Ivette Hernandez all seek to replace Cheryl Coakley-Rivera who resigned earlier in the year to become the assistant clerk of courts.
Edwards is the Ward 3 city councilor and stressed that he is a Springfield native who is also the president of the keep Springfield Beautiful as well as the president of the Springfield Armory Alliance and the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood Council.
He said that neighborhood, in the center of the district, is “on its way back” after the June 1, 2011 tornado.
Edwards said that several years ago and his wife responded to the trash in their neighborhood by regularly walking the street and picking it up for disposal. He said he would like to bring that attitude to the State House.
He noted, “There is always more good happening in the city than bad.”
Gonzalez said he was “born in the projects” and spent time in a family homeless shelter as a child. He noted, however, that he and his five siblings all went to college and his mother at the age of 60 earned her GED.
“She taught us the value of family and education,” he said.
Gonzalez has worked as a mayoral aide and as an aide in the House. He is the president and founder of the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce.
He said he has relationships with all of the legislative delegation in Western Massachusetts and that the key to the city’s success is the small business community.
Hernandez is a social worker who recounted how she came to the United States as a young mother who was the victim of domestic violence in her native Puerto Rico. She noted how various agencies helped her complete her high school education and learn English.
She has been a social worker for the past 17 years and moved to Springfield in 2001. She reclosed how finding an after school program was important to her. “It made a huge difference as a single mother,” she said.
Hernandez is active in several organizations, including Voices for the Community, Pioneer Valley Labor Council and Jobs with Justice.
She said the proof that social programs work is “standing right before you.”