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Tosado to challenge Sarno for mayor

Date: 2/1/2011

Feb. 2, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor


SPRINGFIELD — Whether or not the name of the location for the kick-off of City Council President Jose Tosado was meant to be symbolic — Champions sports bar in Tower Square — the enthusiastic crowd certainly was predicting a victory.

Perhaps the worst kept secret in recent political history, Tosado announced on Jan. 27 he would take on two-term incumbent Domenic Sarno for mayor in the fall election. Tosado, if elected, would fill two "firsts": he would be the city's first Latino mayor and the city's first four-year term mayor.

About two years ago, after Sarno's first term, there was speculation that Tosado would run. He elected not to at that time and former City Councilor Bud Williams — ultimately and unsuccessfully — challenged Sarno.

Tosado, a state mental health professional and a longtime city councilor, is a Springfield native and a Navy veteran. Tosado has been the top vote getter for the last two City Council elections.

With continued concern over cuts in state aid and a projected $43 million budget gap in the city's finances for the next fiscal year, Tosado may be able to gain traction over the popular incumbent.

His announcement was endorsed by fellow members of the City Council: John Lysak, Zaida Luna, Henry Twiggs and Amaad Rivera. Former City Councilor Patrick Markey also attended the event as well as Joseph Gentile of the city's Patrolman's Union and David Wells of the firefighters' union.

Around the bar played a video with highlights of both Tosado's elected and personal life as well as the theme of his campaign: "Another Springfield is possible."

Tosado told the audience "I challenge you to believe another Springfield is possible."

He charged that city officials — he named Sarno specifically in his speech — have not responded effectively to address the city's poverty rate and the decline in the middle class.

"The same failed strategies have delivered the same failed results," he said.

He charged the current administration has not made small businesses development a priority and that he would take advantage of the green, the arts and the knowledge economies to grow the city and to keep young people here.

On public safety, he said, "The surge of violent crime, especially among young people is not acceptable." Daniel Acevedo was the city's second murder victim of the year on Jan. 26 and Darin Negron was the third on Jan. 28.

He called for more police officers on the streets working in partnerships with city communities, as well as increases in after-school programs and summer jobs for youth.

A former School Committee member, Tosado said flatly, "Our education system is broken." He added the city has 10 schools identified by state education officials as under-performing and three of those schools are in the same neighborhood.

"It's time to move from conversation to action," he said in reference to implementing plans to improve schools.

He also addressed accessibility to government by saying, "Springfield is a city of gatekeepers who protect their own interests and want to keep the way things are — in decline." He didn't identify whom he was describing, but the remark was met with a loud, favorable response.

Speaking to the press after his speech, he didn't say how he would pay for additional police, especially in light of the announced local budget gap, but he said, "Today there are less officers than there were four years ago and that has to change."

He repeated his stand against the trash fee and said he believes the city can afford to end it.

To create jobs, he would make greater efforts to reach out to residents seeking to start or expand their own business rather than development from out of the area.

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