|By G. Michael Dobbs|
State Senator Brian Lees's decision not to run for another term is both good news and bad news. Here's how it shakes down:
It's bad news for his district as they are losing a respected hard-working elected official.
It's good news that a long-time elected official recognizes that being in that position should not be a career.
It's bad news for reporters such as myself because Lees was always accessible, always willing to talk about an issue and was a guy who was willing not to take himself too seriously. He's a good guy.
It's good news because now we'll have an old-fashioned brawl to cover as both Democrats and Republicans fight for their party's nomination and then for the approval of the electorate. I love a political mosh pit and we're going to get one.
It's bad news that people are going to speculate the "why" behind his retirement. After all, just wanting new horizons is not enough for some people.
It's good news that people may want to scrutinize the up-coming candidates. They should.
It's bad news for the state Republican Party because they've lost a champion.
It's bad news for the state Democratic Party because they've lost someone who was willing to vote on issues rather than ideology.
At the press conference, Lees made it clear that he has no plans or at least no plans that he is willing to speak about at this time about his future. It's difficult for me to believe that a savvy guy like Lees doesn't have some sort of plan. I just don't see this guy sitting around the house.
We must take him at his word for the time being, though.
So now the rumors really will begin. Who will be running to fill this spot? State Representative Gale Candaras? Fellow State Representative Mary Rogeness? Will I once again write about Robert Collamore?
Candaras on the Democratic side and Rogeness on the Republican side would be a very interesting contest as both officials have loyal constituents. And that race would also affect their seats.
Who knows what will happen, but we will cover it here in this newspaper to the best of our abilities.
I want to thank the folks at Western New England College who put together this year's Communications Conference and allowed me to be part of it. I always enjoy the opportunity of sharing how the media works with people and it was a pleasure to sit on a panel with Jim Gillen, The Republican's City Editor.
I was so happy with the results that I almost didn't mind that my name was mis-spelled in The Republican's story about the conference.
I'm sure it wasn't personal. These things happen.
Speaking of reporters and reporting, now is the time of year the Valley Press Club is having its annual recruiting drive and I would like anyone in this area who is interested in supporting a strong local media to join up.
You don't have to wear a snap-brim fedora with a press pass stuck in the band to qualify for membership. You can be a member of the press, a retried media type, a student or educator as well as a businessperson, a public relations official or any other type of communications professional.
We have some neat events where you actually get to rub shoulders with living, breathing reporters and editors.
On second thought, please don't let that deter you from joining, as membership is just $15 a year and your dues help fund the scholarship program, which is one of the main functions of the club.
Or you can just send along a donation directed just to the scholarships themselves.
Make your checks payable to Valley Press Club and send them along to PO Box 5475, Springfield, MA 01102.
This column represents the opinions of its author.
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