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Candidate steps up to fill representative’s seat

Date: 12/13/2013

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD – A candidate for former state Rep. Donald Humason Jr.’s seat – now a state senator – has come forward despite the fact that a date for an election has yet to be set.

That candidate is John Velis, 33, an attorney who is also a captain in the United States Army. He returned from Afghanistan this past July and did not hesitate to run for Humason’s seat once the vacancy was announced. He currently serves on the city’s Commission for Citizens with Disabilities.

“[The motivation to run stemmed from] my commitment to public service,” Velis told Reminder Publications. “I believe in putting the good of others above yourself.”

Velis said that he’s always had an interest in politics and welcomed the chance to serve his community. “I’m loving the opportunity – going to events, going door to door, meeting people. I’m a people person. Now, I’m [just] waiting for an election date,” he said.

“I’m certainly not an ideologue conservative Democrat,” Velis added. “First, I will do what is best for Westfield and second, I will do what is best for Massachusetts.” He said that regardless of which party comes up with a good idea, he would support it if it meets the aforementioned criteria.

“I’m not going to put party politics over problem solving. That’s definitely, what is wrong at the national level. I don’t subscribe to that belief and never will,” he said.

Born in Newtown, but raised in Western Massachusetts, Velis cited his profession as an attorney as great preparation for becoming a legislator because he “reads and applies the law on a daily basis.” He commented that it’s a “natural transition” from one field to the other.

Velis’ parents and brother live in the area. His sister lives on the West Coast. He plans to marry his fiancée next year.

In the Army, Velis served on the Law and Order Task Force that was entrusted with the task of “bringing tribes and clans together to settle disputes [in a peaceful manner].” He noted that some of the disagreements were rooted hundreds of years prior, but the force was able to get the opposing sides talking and compromising.

“I like to think of myself as a pragmatist to solve the problem,” he said.

As for his platform, Velis cited education and helping veterans as main priorities. He is also interested in assisting with the revitalization of Westfield in any way he can.

“I want to make the transition more smooth for the men and women that volunteer to put their lives on the line,” Velis stated, clarifying that he didn’t mean this in a “self-serving” manner.

He applauded Humason for being a legislator who made it priority to participate in the community. Velis intends to continue that tradition to the extent that he would even participate in the Penguin Plunge as Humason did annually.

“The people of Westfield – if I’m fortunate enough to get elected – will not get a harder worker. I will go down with a single-minded focus that Westfield needs recognition on Beacon Hill,” Velis said.

A date for the election is yet to be determined. In the meantime, Velis will continue campaigning. “People are going to get sick of me,” he joked.