Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD Clodo Concepcion is no stranger to fighting for his community. In the last year alone, the Sixteen Acres Civic Association president has hosted numerous speak-outs about traffic issues involving Sabis International Charter School, crime, and city finances, as well as illegal dumping and protests about the delayed reopening of Greenleaf Community Center. Concepcion clearly states that his cause is the citizens of Springfield, Massachusetts.
"I want to make a change and I think it is time for a change in City Council. Those people think they own the City Council and that is not true. It belongs to the city and the communities," Concepcion told Reminder Publications.
And in an effort to improve "quality of life for all neighborhoods," Concepcion has taken out nomination papers and will pursue a seat on the City Council.
"I have nothing against the individuals running on the City Council now," Concepcion explained. "But I believe they have not done the job they were elected for. Promises don't solve problems, actions do."
Last month during a protest for the reopening of the Greenleaf Community Center local officials acknowledged his determination.
Senator Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow) told the crowd of residents at the protest that "he's in there all of the time fighting for you."
Concepcion said he realizes there are many serious concerns regarding the city, and some of the priorities he listed were safety, transportation and contract negotiations.
"I want to make sure that the people that work in the Police Department, Fire Department, and all the people that work in the city are able to get a decent contract. I know what it takes to be able to provide a good contract for all city workers," he said.
For 35 years Concepcion conducted contract negotiations for the former Package Machinery Co. once headquartered in East Longmeadow. As president of Local 220 International Union Electronic, Concepcion said he helped workers fight for their pensions when the company closed its Reed's Injection Molding Machine plant in 1990, which resulted in a $3.5 million settlement for 487 former employees, according to Concepcion.
A native of Cuba, Concepcion has resided in Springfield for 50 years. Also a veteran of the United States Air Force, Concepcion said he is proud of his achievements.
"I served my country with pride. I'm a proud citizen," he added.
Concepcion said he has spent much of his lifetime working with communities. After retirement he has been able to dedicate more of his time volunteering for various causes like the Red Cross, the Shriners Hospital and Mass Senior Action Council.
Concepcion said he is always open to working with anyone.
"You go to work with the people that are able to help you make the communities better," he said. "I will not go and point fingers. There are too many people that blame others for problems. Those are the reasons I know that we need to change the City Council. We need people in there that care about the communities."
For now Concepcion said he is taking his time and collecting signatures for his nomination papers. He has a few weeks before the signatures are due.
"I don't want to get involved in any political issues that are controversial because I'm not here for politics or popularity," Concepcion said. "I need to be elected to make a difference in the community. Since I am retired and involved in community affairs, I have the time that is needed to do the work if the people elect me."
As far as his main message for voters, he said that he doesn't say one thing and do another.
"Talk to anybody, they'll tell you. I don't tell you want I'm going to do, I tell you what I've done," he added.