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Belanger takes unconventional campaign trail to win Ward 5 seat

Date: 10/17/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – City Council candidate Michael Belanger is handling his campaign in a way most politicians don’t: he is not accepting any contributions and is funding his run himself.

He does not want to “beholden to anybody,” he told Reminder Publications.

Belanger added, “I want the job. I’m paying for it.”

The 16 Acres resident is facing incumbent Clodo Concepcion in next month’s election.

Belanger has been a businessman in the city for 28 years and owns and operates Main Street Auto in Indian Orchard. This is his first time running for office.

He explained his motivation to seek the Ward 5 spot on the council by saying, “I felt most of the people were not being represented correctly.”

While campaigning, Belanger said older residents of the ward have expressed concerns about public safety. Although Belanger said he knows there is a police presence, he would work toward having it more visible if he is elected.

As a businessman, he believes the city’s tax on commercial property prevents greater employment here. While he praised efforts to provide funding for façades and infrastructure improvements, the reduction of the tax is also important.

“If you just reduce the tax you’ll be able to give businesses a chance,” Belanger said. He believes the decrease in tax would encourage and allow businesses to hire more staff.

Belanger thinks that different approaches to problems could help the city. He used as an example the issue of illegal dumping. He said currently residents must pay to have items such as sofas and appliances removed, which causes some people to dispose of them by dropping them in vacant lots.

Once illegal garbage is discovered the city must deal with it and Belanger said, “It is cheaper to get it from the curb. There are so many [bureaucratic] steps involved [in removing it].”

If elected, Belanger would be part of a council that has to deal with casino gaming, if MGM is selected by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

He said, “There are two sides to that issue.” He explained that while he enjoys gambling himself, he believes that MGM “would help out a section of the city. It will not be the savior of saviors.”