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Familiar faces to take office in January

Date: 11/8/2013

By Carley Dangona,

Katelyn Gendron and

Chris Maza

GREATER SPRINGFIELD – Those in the Pioneer Valley will see some familiar faces come January as one former mayor returns to Chicopee after a 10-year absence, Holyoke’s mayor gains his second term, and a veteran state representative transitions into a seat in the state Senate.

Humason vs. Bartley

In the race for the state Senate’s 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District, state Rep. Donald Humason Jr. (R-Westfield) won over Holyoke City Councilor David Bartley (D-Holyoke) by a count of 18,123 to 16,493.

“I’m very, very happy and maybe a little bit apprehensive because it’s a bit new,” Humason said. “It’s a big job, but I’m a big guy and I think I can do it.”

In the day after the election, Humason returned to Boston and visited the Senate to learn more about the swearing in process that will take place on Jan. 2, 2014.

“Part of the job is following in state Sen. Michael Knapik’s shoes. It’s a good thing to know I can follow in my predecessor’s footsteps,” he said, adding that one of his main responsibilities would be keeping constituents informed.

While there is no specific legislation Humason plans to push forward, he does intend to support a motion to make volleyball the official sport of the Commonwealth. “It sounds like a fluff piece of [legislation], but it would mean a lot to the community. Let’s see if we can spike it over the net for a point,” Humason said.

He stated that he would support any bill that is good for Western Massachusetts.

First on his agenda is to get out and meet the people. “I want to get out there and introduce myself. I want them [constituents, policy makers, etc., to know] what’s important to them and how I can help,” Humason said.

He is also considering the option of moving to a “slightly larger” office with better parking and that is “centrally located.”

“I want to express my gratitude to all of the voters, campaign volunteers and my patient family,” Humason said. “It was a great experience.”

As for Bartley, Humason said, “I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him to discuss some things.”

Bartley told Reminder Publications, “I’m disappointed. We felt really confident going into the election.”

In response to Humason’s offer he said, “I think it’s really in the best spirit of politics. To be honest, I would do the same.”

Bartley noted the stark contrast of Agawam’s support. “In the primary, Agawam giveth. In the election, Agawam taketh away,” he commented.” He added that in Southwick he was “blasted out of the water.”

Overall, he enjoyed the race. “After this campaign I found out how much I enjoy being out there and meeting the people,” he said.

When asked what’s next, Bartley responded, “That’s a darn good question. I will dive back into the City Council, but anything beyond that – time will tell.” At this point, he has no further plans to run for office.

Kos vs. Bissonnette

Chicopee Mayor-elect Richard Kos told Reminder Publications he was “humbled by the support” he received at the polls on Nov. 5 and promised to “make Chicopee better.”

Kos defeated incumbent Mayor Michael Bissonnette by more than 2,000 votes, totaling approximately 7,800 to his opponent’s 5,700. Kos previously served as Chicopee’s mayor from 1997 to 2004.

“I spent a lot of time campaigning, walking neighborhoods and the support was truly heartwarming, both people remembered what I had done [as mayor] and I appreciate the opportunity to achieve similar successes going forward,” he said.

Kos explained he’ll be forming a transition team within the coming weeks to ensure that he hits the ground running in January. He promised to work side-by-side with members of the City Council, School Committee and department heads.

“I want to make the city better [economically] by [gaining a] 5 percent every year. I’m not looking for a homerun but advancement each year will yield a cumulative effect,” he said of his plans for the future.

Kos added, “Chicopee has all the strengths of a large city but all the charm of a small town.”

Calls to Bissonnette seeking comment were not returned.

Morse vs. Stanek

Incumbent Alex Morse comfortably defeated challenger Jeffrey Stanek, capturing 54 percent of the vote and besting the political newcomer by a count of 5,274 to 4,425, to earn his second term as mayor of Holyoke.

Morse said he was “even more energized and excited” about the direction of the city after the election.

“I ran two years ago because people had given up on the city of Holyoke, but I hadn’t and people sent a message two years ago that they had hope for a better Holyoke,” he said. “Last night’s vote affirmed that the city of Holyoke is in fact moving in the right direction and that in the past two years we have laid a strong foundation on which we are going to build off of in the coming years.”

Morse said he expected more visible results from initiatives he put in motion in his first term in the near future. He said shovels should soon be in the ground to kick off development projects such as the passenger rail platform slated for downtown, phase two of the Canal Walk project and the renovation of the old Holyoke Catholic High School building into apartments, as well as park revitalization efforts in the spring.

“All of these projects were initiated by my administration, but we’ll finally begin construction so people can finally see a tangible difference happening across the city,” he said.

Continuity in the mayor’s office would be essential to ensuring the city continues with these projects and stays on a positive path, Morse added.

“As a new mayor, in two years we’ve really laid a strong foundation and implemented new plans and policies that are going to start paying off,” he said. “That’s why it was so important to get re-elected yesterday. We need a long-term plan for the city, not a plan that depends on election cycles. I’m not always thinking toward the next election, but really toward the next decade here in the city and how the decisions I make are going to impact the future of Holyoke for generations to come.”

Morse also said he would work toward reuniting the city in the wake of divisiveness that develops during election seasons.

“I want to send a message to those folks whose vote I didn’t earn and let them know that I am everyone’s mayor. We may not agree on every issue, but I know we all love the city of Holyoke and want what’s best for the city; we just disagree sometimes on how to get there,” he said. “I’m going to work hard to unite this city in the coming weeks and months.”

Stanek touted his financial background as a controller for small- to medium-sized companies and criticized the mayor and Holyoke’s financial standing during his campaign, identifying the fact that the city is at its levy ceiling as a major concern.

“I cannot thank my family, friends, and volunteer staff enough for all the hard work and effort they have put in since organizing my campaign in June. I had an outstanding group of volunteers,” Stanek said. “For many, including myself, it was the first time working on a political campaign, and we gave it our all. I am very grateful to all of the people I have met at community events, meet and greets, and going door-to-door. Whether you were a supporter or not, I have learned something from each conversation I have had. Elections can be tough, but we must remember that we all have one goal – a better unified Holyoke.”