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Chamber to host candidates’ forum Oct. 6

Date: 10/4/2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) is hoping to stimulate more interest in this year’s local elections by hosting another Candidates’ Forum night on Oct. 6.

This year’s election cycle will prove significant, as the position of mayor, as well as 11 City Council seats, will be decided at the ballot box in November.

The WRC also hosted a candidates’ forum for mayoral and town council candidates in West Springfield on Oct. 4.

“As a chamber we understand the importance of these forums for all citizens of our communities,” John Weiss, president, Ormsby Insurance Agency Inc. and chair of WRC’s Economic Development Committee, said. “We believe this process allows our future elected officials to discuss their ideas and goals while at the same time addressing questions from the people they look to lead.”

The Agawam Candidates’ Forum will take place at the Roberta G. Doering School, 68 Main St. Candidates for City Council will debate from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with the mayoral debate between incumbent Richard Cohen and challengers Rosemary Sandlin and Walter Meissner III beginning at 7:45 p.m.

There are 18 candidates running for the 11 City Council seats, including incumbents James Cichetti, Joseph Mineo, Robert Rossi, Donald Rheault, Robert Magovern, George Bitzas, Dennis Perry and Gina Letellier. They will face challengers Peter Boadrif, Billy Chester, Peter McNair, Anthony Sullivan, Paul Cavallo, Cecilia Calabrese, Rose Misioschia, Louis Russo, Christopher Johnson and Arthur Giroux.

Robert F. L. MacDonald, executive director of the Work Opportunity Center Inc. of Agawam, will moderate the forum. MacDonald, who also serves on the WRC Board of Directors, said the forum is designed to “foster the democratic process by giving voters the occasion to become more knowledgeable about the issues and candidates.”

WRC member Remo Pizzichemi of the West Springfield Hampton Inn/Holiday Inn Springfield/Enfield, VP Welcome Group, Inc., said “The West of the River Chamber hopes that these debates will help shed light on the candidates who will be most likely to assist businesses to remain strong, economically viable employers during this period of high unemployment.”

The WRC provides legislative advocacy, marketing and sponsorship opportunities, networking, educational and information programs for businesses in Agawam and West Springfield. Recently, the WRC became affiliated with the Massachusetts Chamber of Business & Industry, the state Chamber of Commerce, to enhance leadership and support services.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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