|NEITHER OPPONENT PLANS TO BACKDOWN FROM HARD HITTIN' ISSUES|
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD Neither State Rep. Donald Humason Jr. nor his opponent Brian Hoose are planning to shy away from the hot button issues at their upcoming debate.
Both told Reminder Publications that they are looking forward to challenging one another about their policies during the Oct. 23 forum.
"I intend to talk about my record in the Legislature," Humason said. "My opponent has criticized me because I am a Republican. I will gently remind my opponent and the good people of my city that I have been able to do a lot for my city like increasing local aid for the schools and the city."
Humason noted that since becoming a state legislator, local aid has risen 18 percent.
He explained that given these difficult economic times it is vital to have someone in the Legislature that will fight to maintain local aid amid imminent 9C cuts. Humason said he expects the Legislature to reconvene after the Nov. 4 elections in order to grant Gov. Deval Patrick the authority to cut the state's fiscal year 2009 budget as it is already wildly unbalanced.
Humason said at the debate he will be discussing the importance of "kitchen table economics."
"You can only afford to pay bills that you make enough money to pay," he said. "That's what we do at home but not in the House and Senate."
Humason explained that he will speak about putting a moratorium on new programs in order to maintain funding for existing services.
"My goal as a representative is to remind people in the Legislature that we don't want to make anything worse," he said.
Hoose agreed, adding that local aid needs to be maintained, especially in the interests of downtown revitalization. He explained that he is also looking into the possibility of "incentive funds" for existing factories to move out of the downtown area and into the industrial park, therefore creating increased commercial space.
Hoose said he hopes to discuss other projects at the debate including the development of a senior center and a no-kill animal shelter as well as his opposition to Russell Biomass.
"I don't like Russell Biomass," he said. "I have serious concerns about the environmental impact [and the impact] transportation [will have] on water and air [quality]."
Hoose explained that if elected he would work with fellow legislators to stop the building of the power plant.
He noted that he plans to seek Community Development Block Grant funding for a senior center as well as help the non-profit group Animal Shelter Renovation Inc. to finance a no-kill animal shelter.
Humason and Hoose said they also expect to be asked about the state of the federal economy and its effect on the Commonwealth and Westfield.
Hoose said that legislators must work to ensure that local banks are secure and protecting the financial interests of those in the Commonwealth.
Humason said he also anticipates that constituents will want to know his and Hoose's position on upcoming ballot questions, specifically Question One, which asks voters if they would like to repeal the state's income tax.
"Question One goes too far," Humason said. "It's like killing a fly with a sledgehammer."
The Oct. 23 debate, sponsored by the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, will take place in the South Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m.
Constituents can submit questions for the debate to the Chamber via phone at 568-1618, through e-mail at email@example.com or by mail to 53 Court St., Westfield, MA 01085. Those submitting questions must include their name, address and phone number in the event that question clarification is needed.