|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD A veteran state legislator has formally declared his intentions to seek another term.
Benjamin Swan, who has been the state representative for the 11th Hampden District for the past 12 years, greeted supporters at his campaign kick-off in the new outdoor pavilion at the Cozy Courtyard Caf on State Street on Wednesday.
City Councilors Domenic Sarno, Kateri Walsh and Bill Foley attended the event along with Thomas Merrigan, a candidate for Governor's Council; Brian Ashe, who is running for State Senate; and Donald Ashe, who is seeking re-election to Hampden County Registrar of Voters.
Swan, a disabled Korean War veteran, has lived in Springfield for 56 years and was very active at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He has a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts and a Bachelor's of Fine Arts from the Fashion-Art School.
In the House, Swan serves as the vice chair of the Joint Committee on Bonding and Capital Expenses. In 2004, he served as co-chair of a Special House Taskforce on Correction in Massachusetts.
Swan is also well known locally as broadcaster having hosted a weekly show on WTCC since 1987.
If re-elected Swan told Reminder Publications that his legislative priorities would "still be basic."
Swan said that public safety is of paramount concern and that he would work to create more programs to keep youth out of gang activities. While he supports law enforcement efforts to improve public safety, he believes that prevention of violence through after-school programs is essential.
Healthcare is still a major issue and Swan said that while he is "pleased with the [health insurance] legislation that was enacted it needs to be implemented to see where the kinks are."
He anticipates the Legislature will add it to the bill this year.
He said he is "working as hard as I can" on helping to improve Springfield schools.
On his accomplishments for his district during the past 12 years, he said they have to be viewed as having impact on "more than the district."
He cited his work on bettering education in the city as well as work on substance abuse and public health.
"It [his efforts] helps not just the district," he said.
Former City Councilor Morris "Mo" Jones said Swan is "not the kind of guy who pats himself on the back. He helps a lot of people."
Jones noted that Swan has aided his constituents with issues such as fuel assistance and employment.
"It's important to send Ben back to Boston not only for the 11th Hampden District, but the whole city of Springfield," Jones said.