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Assistant DA has his eyes set on top spot

Date: 1/18/2010

Jan. 18, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW - Assistant District Attorney Steve Spelman recently announced he's aiming for a promotion - he's running for the District Attorney's seat that will be vacated by William Bennett this November.

Spelman recently sat down with Reminder Publications to explain his bid for the seat and to introduce himself to the voters he hasn't yet had the opportunity to meet.

"I think I've been to every town in Hampden County so far except for Chester," Spelman said last Tuesday. "I've been from Holland to Tolland."

Currently assigned to the Homicide Unit of the Hampden County District Attorney's Office, Spelman is a long-time prosecutor of serious felonies and has worked with police departments across the county as well as with the state police. He wants to build on those bonds as the DA.

"The top three areas that need to be addressed are first, dealing with the most dangerous criminals because it tends to be a small number of bad people doing most of the bad things," he said. "I want to focus on reducing gun crimes because you often see a horrific result from something as easy as pulling a trigger. It's the difference between a fist fight and a murder. My third goal is helping young men say no to crime, and work[ing] with all kinds of different agencies across the county to do that. And it's hard to do.

"I want to create networks and relationships to ensure that law enforcement in Hampden County most effectively provides for the safety of the public," he added.

An East Longmeadow resident, Spelman said he's always had an interest in public service. He's been involved with the United Way of Pioneer Valley and has coached his children's sports teams. He grew up in Westfield and was inspired by his great uncle to become an attorney.

He's also been inspired to serve his country. Spelman is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and currently serves as a Judge Advocate General, holding the post of Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command. He has had two combat tours in Iraq, and on the second he served as Senior Military Officer on Gen. David Petraeus' Law and Order Task Force.

When asked how his military experience would help him in his capacity as DA, Spelman said, "I've seen how public safety can be addressed when people start to talk. When I was in Baghdad in 2008, what was once empty streets became places of open shops and people out of their homes. It was a huge change. Was it perfect? No. But it was better."

He added that he's run organizations like the District Attorney's office while serving in the military as well.

If elected, Spelman said his first step as DA will be to talk to all the public leaders in the county, from mayors and selectmen to librarians. "We need to begin a dialogue so that everyone's working together," he said. "Will that solve anything? No, but it will help start something."

He sees the District Attorney as the chief law enforcement officer of the county but that the position goes beyond that capacity to reach every part of the community.

"As DA, you can really serve as a catalyst for change," he stated.

Spelman will be running for District Attorney as a Democrat. He currently has a Facebook page, located here, and will have a Web site up soon.