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Welch, Magovern lobby for position in state senate

Date: 10/12/2010

Oct. 13, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- The state senate will welcome a new representative from Hampden District at the beginning of the next legislative session.

State Rep. James Welch, Democrat, and Republican Agawam City Councilor Robert Magovern lobbied for support from the small crowd of approximately 30 people at the West of the River Chamber of Commerce's debate at Roberta Doering G. School on Oct. 7.

"I have no qualms with him as a person but he's totally wrong on the issues," Magovern said, adding that Welch is part of the political machine on Beacon Hill, "voting with Boston leadership 98.5 percent of the time."

Welch disagreed, adding, "I don't owe anybody anything. I vote my conscience."

When asked by Welch how he planned to decrease spending in the event the state's sales tax is reduced to 5 percent or 3 percent, Magovern replied, "[State] senators and representatives can cut salaries, cut a staff person out of your offices."

Reductions should also be made to curb wasteful spending, such as the elimination of repetitive services.

Welch adamantly disagreed. "I started out as a [legislative] aide. They work hard and should not be overlooked. These are people's jobs and lives," he said.

Welch added that he's opposed to reducing the sales tax to 3 percent because "it's quite too drastic. Services would suffer ... the biggest burden would be on cities and towns [to make up the difference]."

Magovern said, if elected, he would work for progress on a variety of issues such as maintaining funding for quality education; push for infrastructure projects such as the completion of Route 57 in Agawam and high-speed rail in Springfield; and promote tourism in Western Massachusetts to help stimulate the economy.

Welch cited his experience as a state representative and legislative aide, maintaining that he plans to continue his same efforts in the senate. He said, as a senator, he would work to offer existing and new businesses incentives for growth; invest in education and workforce training; and continue to lobby for casinos as an economic engine for the region.

"With Mr. Welch's union background, these issues aren't being addressed and these are the issues I'd like to address in Boston," Magovern said in his closing remarks.

"As a state representative I'm proudest of my constituent service ... as a state senator, I will continue to have an open door policy," Welch said. "When I leave my house everyday, I strive to do my best for the people of the district."

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