Boldyga, Di Santi ready arsenals for debate
By Carley Dangonacarley@thereminder.com
AGAWAM Republican incumbent State Rep. Nicholas Boldyga and Democrat Samuel Di Santi are gearing up for their debate on Oct. 18 as they lobby voters for the House's 3rd Hampden District seat, which represents Agawam, Granville, Russell and Southwick.
Both men are busy traveling the campaign trail, canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door and attending community events to speak with residents firsthand to learn of their concerns.
"I haven't stopped working," Boldyga said. "I've attended Veteran's and Memorial Day events and parades, I've visited schools to speak with students about my job, I've more than 300 thank you letters from the community and I've knocked on more than 4,000 doors overall each was followed up with a postcard. From my campaigning, I've noticed that people are still focused on jobs and the economy [because there is still improvement needed]."
Di Santi said, "I've attended many grassroots functions. I went to the Sherriff's Clambake, I held meet and greets at Jimmy's Pizza and will attend the Agawam Harvest Festival. While campaigning, one of the main themes I've encountered is the concern that more respect for senior citizens is needed. Many residents would like to see more programs and mobility options for our elder population."
For Di Santi, being on the forefront of the community is important to him. "You [district representatives] have to have that one-to-one communication," he said. "You have to ask what [the constituents] needs are."
He criticized Boldyga by stating, "He should have more community involvement. It's all about him and what he's done he doesn't participate. To have [accurate] representation [for the community] you have to be visible and in your district. I pledge to have a full-time office that's fully staffed [as opposed to a home office like Boldyga]. He receives a $500 stipend each month to maintain his office where's that going? I'll spend the money to have an office that's accessible to the people."
Boldyga responded to his opponent's criticism. "I would wholeheartedly disagree," he said. "I'm very involved in the community, whether it's High Tea with the Queen [a Friends of the Agawam Senior Center event] or a public forum on the Agawam infrastructure. I've gone to people's homes to discuss issues in cases where they couldn't travel. I stop by houses and businesses [to meet with residents]. If you just have an office [it isn't enough] you can just wait for them to come to you, but I prefer to go to them. I hold office hours in each of the towns I represent. My home telephone number is listed on my website there's been many Saturdays where I've picked up the phone and spoken with concerned citizens at 9 a.m. in the morning. I have a Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as an email address and a website. There's never an excuse not to be available. "
Both men noted they are dedicated to veterans.
"I would love to see more done for our veterans. As an Air Force veteran, I know the trials and tribulations they've gone through and know the sacrifices they've made. If elected, I would like to establish a Wounded Warrior fishing program at Congamond Lake. I would also work to acquire more land for the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, as well as organize an annual event for veterans."
Boldyga stated, "Over my first term, the communities [I represent] have received record amounts of educational aid and funding ... Our veterans and the infrastructure have also received a record amount of funding over this term. VALOR is a phenomenal act, which provides educational, employment and housing opportunities for veterans. I wanted to focus on showing my appreciation and respect for their service, while making it easier for them to acclimate to the community upon returning from deployment.
"In addition, the Welcome Home Bonus Account provides up to $1,000 in bonus payments for residents returning from active deployment. The Agawam Veterans Cemetery also received an increase in funding of almost $400,000," he continued.
Di Santi said he believes that Boldyga doesn't fulfill his slogan of "People Before Politics," but rather does just the opposite. "He voted 'no' on a healthcare initiative because he didn't have time to read it," he said. "Why didn't he abstain? He should have known what the content was. He votes in line with the party and will not cross over, even when it is for the better of the people. I'm really trying to be that voice bring back that voice on Beacon Hill that we lost two years ago. My business card reads 'The Voice of the People.'"
Boldyga responded to Di Santi's charges by stating, "When a bill that is given that is more than 100 pages long, less than 24 hours before the vote, the best thing to do is vote no. That's not a good way to do government. That passed on the last day of a two-year legislative session. The Massachusetts Hospital Association, Moody's and the Pioneer Institute all agreed that the bill would do nothing but make healthcare more expensive for the average person.
"I'm not a very partisan person. I vote across party lines. Almost 50 percent of my voting record for 2011 and 2012 was out of line with [Republican] leadership. I believe it's important to be a bi-partisan legislator working across party lines for the good of our community," he continued.
Di Santi's main criticism of Boldyga is his involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). "That's the key to him putting politics before people," he said. "The whole idea of ALEC is to privatize America. It's already happening jobs are outsourced, taking them away from college kids and adults, leaving them with no medical benefits or retirement plans. All people will be on the same form of assistance, dependent on the government. There will be no more middle class."
Boldyga said, "Did he [Di Santi] also mention that the other Massachusetts co-chair for ALEC is a democrat? The goal [of ALEC] is to have free enterprise and less government [involvement]. Massachusetts has the number one ranking for education by ALEC. My track record speaks for itself I'm the father of a 10-month-old who will attend public school and am a graduate of public school."
A staunch advocate of the Route 57 project, Di Santi believes this construction is vital to the sustainment of the Agawam and Southwick economies. "I'm looking for us to spend our money in our towns," he explained. "[The district] needs someone that is proactive, pro-business and pro-future. There will never be signature [big box] stores if that corridor isn't opened."
Boldyga discussed the main construction concerns of the district. "Right now, safety is the main concern," he explained. "The Route 57 project still requires more than 200 acres to be taken for its completion, which includes wetlands. It will cost approximately $85 to $100 million as projected and there are no funds streaming in for it. Current improvements are the widening of Route 10, and creating a safer intersection at Route 57 with updated traffic lights and new curb cuts. A bid was just sent out for the Main Street/Route 159 resurfacing and there is an Agawam River Walk and Bike Loop project in the works to finalize the path."
Di Santi credits his more than 30 years experience with the United States Postal Service working in customer relations as a qualification to be a representative for the district. "I'm trying to make a difference," he said. "I'm a blue collar worker, a middle class citizen. My true agenda is to work for the people and [local] businesses."
If re-elected, Boldyga pledges to continue working on providing jobs and improving the economies of the district. "I was 15 when I started volunteering for the public," he said. "I've always taken the time for community [service]. I have the experience and track record."
A debate between the candidates is scheduled for Oct. 18 at the Roberta G. Doering School from 6 to 9 p.m.
For more information about Boldyga, visit www.nickboldyga.com
. For further information about Di Santi, go to www.samdisanti.com