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Residents announce bid for seat in Legislature

Date: 3/3/2010

March 3, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD -- Democratic State Rep. James Welch is still weighing his options for the upcoming election cycle, while others are already vying fo his seat.

Republicans Greg Neffinger and Dean Vogel, both of West Springfield, announced their bids for state representative of the 6th Hampden District -- sections of Chicopee and Springfield and all of West Springfield -- last week. Unenrolled John Powers of West Springfield has also taken out nomination papers, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office.

"Right now my intention is to run," Welch told Reminder Publications. "The reality is, every time you decide to run, it is a commitment and ... it's a family decision."

Welch added he's focused on his duties as state representative and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which is conducting budget hearings throughout the Commonwealth.

"I will make a formal announcement in the coming weeks," he said.

Neffinger, an architect, owner of Neffinger Architects and president of the West Springfield Rotary Club, explained that his decision to run is focused on platforms pertaining to decreasing taxes, increasing jobs and helping small business owners.

"Now is the wrong time to be raising taxes," he said. "People are struggling. Higher taxes are a pay cut and in this economy, a job killer."

Neffinger added he is urging voters to approve a ballot question to roll back the state sales tax to 5 percent.

"Our economy works best when people have more of their money to spend and businesses can invest," he said. "We can either attract businesses and sales to the state, or continue to lose business and jobs. We need to lower taxes, cut wasteful spending, create jobs and get the economy growing."

Neffinger noted his experience as a 15-year member of the West Springfield Board of Appeals and a registered Republican make him uniquely qualified to understand the needs of the minority parties.

"The refreshing thing about it is Republicans go as independents because they do have large coalitions [to answer to]," he said, adding that approximately 90 percent of the House is comprised of Democrats.

"I will be able to return honest government to Boston," Neffinger continued. "I believe there are Democrats who got to Boston with good intentions but when they get to Boston, how can they stand up to the Speaker of the House?"

Vogel explained his campaign will focus on "taxes, jobs and wasteful government spending." He noted the state's policy of housing homeless families in hotels is one example of such spending.

"Last year our representative voted to raise the state's sales tax 25 percent during with worst economy in generations, just when people need the money most," Vogel said. "If elected, I would fight to undo that tax increase and put the money back where it belongs, in the people's pocket.

"Beacon Hill is scheming all kinds of ways to raise our taxes and fees and they will not stop until more Republicans and fiscal conservatives are elected to office to challenge their reckless spending," he continued.

Powers could not be reached for comment by press time.

Candidates must obtain 150 signatures by April 27 to be eligible for the preliminary or general elections on Sept. 14 and Nov. 2, respectively.