|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Many times people complain that elections offer no real choices. I think that for many people this year, the local races for Governor's Council, state representatives, state senate, clerk of courts and the Second Congressional District do indeed offer candidates of distinct backgrounds and agendas.
William Szych, an independent running against Congressman John Olver , certainly disagrees with Olver on many key issues and offers voters a clear choice in philosophy and experiences.
Jim Goodhines and Brian Lees are two very different candidates for the Hampden Country Clerk of Courts position. Lees is offering his years of experience on Beacon Hill, while Goodhines would bring his knowledge of law and the courts to the post.
In filling the state senate positions vacated by Lees, the two candidates again offer voters the choice between an experienced legislator in Gale Candaras and fresh ideas offered by Enrico "Jack" Villamaino.
The three candidates for Governor's Council couldn't be much more different from one another: Thomas Merrigan, a Democrat and a retired judge; Michael Kogut, an independent and a veteran lawyer; and Michael Franco, a Republican and well-known conservative activist who would bring an outsider's view to the Council.
For the state representative seat currently held by Gale Candaras, voters have a Republican, Chris Leisey and a Democrat Angelo Puppulo, both with experience as municipal officials.
Democratic State Representative Sean Curran is facing a challenge from a fiscally conservative independent, Megan Anzalotti, and a Libertarian, Robert Underwood.
Looking to succeed Daniel Keenan, Rosemary Sandlin, a Democrat and Robert Magovern, a Republican, present voters with two candidates with substantial records as Agawam town officials.
State Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera is also facing a challenge from Republican George Vasquez and independent Kyle Burns.
In Chicopee, State Representative Joseph Wagner has a race with independent Ronald Sliski.
What I've liked about many of these campaigns is that the candidates have stuck to issues, rather than negativity something we haven't had at the state level.
There's just under a week before Election Day. If you've not thought about your choices, now's the time to do. Be sure to vote.
I want to thank all of the folks at the Pine Point Neighborhood Council and Senior Center for the great evening my wife and I had on Saturday at "Yolly's Annual Thank You Supper."
Yolly Nahorniak has been a great advocate for her neighborhood and her annual event brings together neighborhood residents, city officials and business people for a great home-cooked meal and camaraderie.
I was fortunate to be invited to receive recognition for my "and The Reminder's commitment to neighborhood coverage."
I shared the evening's honors with reporter Mary Ellen Lowney from "The Republican," Janet Denney, the director of Elder Affairs for the city of Springfield, and Domingo Barrosos, the manager of the Boston Road McDonald's.
Along with the meal and a nifty plaque for my wall, I was also suprised with a citation to me from the State Senate honoring me my committment to community journalism that was sponsored by State Senator Brian Lees.
The crusty old cynic me was greatly touched.
It was a wonderful night that I will long remember.
I'm also pleased to announce that Marty Riskin's cartoons will start up again in this newspaper next week.
Local elected officials should send me their most flattering head shots so Marty can produce the most lovely caricatures!
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to email@example.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.