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Local races outshine national ones

Date: 8/13/2015

I don’t know about you, but I’m paying very little attention to the presidential race, such as it is.

Is that heresy for a political junkie such as myself to admit? Perhaps. My concern is the posturing and the sound-biting going on right now is taking away political attention from local races.

You know the crowd of GOP candidates is going to change pretty radically as we get closer to the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses next year. February will be the big month with the Iowa caucus on Feb.1, followed by primaries in New Hampshire on Feb. 9 and South Carolina in Feb. 20.

And after Feb. 20, the scene will be radically different, as the fatally wounded will give up their campaigns, slink back to their homes and wonder why they ever decided to run.

Right now, it’s all political theater and one that is dominated on the Republican side by American Overlord Donald Trump, who is simply building his brand rather than running for office. I’m sure Trump just views this as his newest reality show.

It’s a “great” story, though, and the press is eating it up, as it’s easy. Trump says something outrageous and they print it – quick and economical. It’s poor journalism, though.

There really is a great – no qualifying quotation marks – story with the Democrats and that’s Sen. Bernie Sanders and his surprise candidacy. It’s too bad not many national news outlets seem to be paying too much attention. If Sanders can win one of the early primaries, we’ll have a real race. Otherwise it will be the Hilary Clinton show for most of 2016, something I’m dreading.

Right now, though, I’m far more interested in local politics. We have quite a field running for mayor in Springfield, three people seeking the executive office in Holyoke, three people in West Springfield, two in Westfield and two in Chicopee.

The West Springfield and Westfield races should be of great interest as those incumbent mayors have decided not to run and the seats are open. The Holyoke race pits two-term Mayor Alex Morse against two opponents.

The challenge for the Springfield candidates challenging Mayor Domenic Sarno is finding chinks in Sarno’s impressive political armor. Sarno can point to the Chinese rail car company coming to the city as well as the jobs promised by MGM – two impressive economic development issues. He can also speak about the fact Union Station is finally seeing its revival under his watch.

Speaking about schools and crime isn’t going to be enough. There have been strides forward in the city’s schools, thanks to efforts made by the School Superintendent Daniel Warwick and the School Committee as well as the hardworking teachers and administrators.

Seeing what fuels much of the crime in the city – gangs and drugs – the real issue is how to change society to eliminate some of the root causes rather than what can the police do on their own.

I hope to see more thoughts about these issues in the mayor’s race.

In West Springfield Greg Neffinger is asking for a second chance as mayor and it will be interesting to see if voters are willing to do that.

And in Chicopee, we have a rematch of incumbent Mayor Richard Kos with former Mayor Michael Bissonnette. This is going to be the race to watch. I can’t think of the last time we had this kind of political contest.

As I’ve written before, politics is a blood sport in Chicopee and there is already evidence this is going to be a rough and tumble political season to say the least.

If following politics is an interest of yours, forget about the presidential race for now and think about what’s happening locally.

Great news

I’m not Catholic, but my wife and I have been privileged to call two members of the Sisters of Saint Joseph friends.

They always showed great and sincere faith while firmly grounded in the secular world.

The announcement from the Diocese of Springfield that it would help the order in a time of real need is welcomed news. The nuns have contributed so much to the quality of life in Western Massachusetts and the donation of $1 million is an acknowledgment of their commitment to making this region a better place to live.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.