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Charlie Baker Makes First Visit To Western Mass. As Governor-Elect


Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker, just three days removed from his close election victory, visited western Massachusetts today.  He met privately with the mayor of the region’s largest city, and also with a suburban mayor who had endorsed Baker’s candidacy.

The Republican governor-elect and the Democratic mayor of Springfield dismissed their political differences and stressed their mutual interests in economic development and finding innovative ways to improve the state’s public schools.

Baker and Mayor Domenic Sarno, who had campaigned for Democrat Martha Coakley for governor, pledged bipartisan cooperation going forward.

" The election is over," Sarno said as he thanked Baker for reaching out to request the meeting.

Sarno presented Baker with a six-pack of beer from a local craft brewery, a handwritten congratulatory note and computer thumb drives containing a presentation outlining $2.4 billion in construction projects that have been recently completed or are to begin soon in the city.

" It will be great to have an opportunity to look over what you have going, so that what we propose is consistent with it," Baker told Sarno.

The mayor and the governor-elect discussed a project the city is pursuing with a non-profit consulting firm to turn around the city’s eight struggling middle schools.

Credit Springfield mayor's office
Baker visits with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and City Councilor Tim Rooke in the mayor's city hall office

During his visit to Springfield City Hall, and during an earlier courtesy call on West Springfield Mayor Ed Sullivan, Baker asked how the administration can help as MGM begins to build an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, just across the Connecticut River from West Springfield.

"There are certainly significant positives and some negatives associated with this project. We need to do all we can to accentuate the stuff that is going to be great and mitigate what is going to be a problem," said Baker.

Baker said there was both symbolism and substance in his visits with the two mayors to show western Massachusetts will not be forgotten or neglected in a Baker administration.  The region received a lot of attention from Governor Deval Patrick, who has a home in Richmond.

"This is my second campaign. I learned a lot. I look forward to continuing to get to know the Commonwealth. I want to create positive momentum in parts of Massachusetts that have gotten some of the benefit that other area have over the course of the past five years," said Baker.

Sarno said he believes it when Baker said he intends to be governor of the whole Commonwealth.

Baker said a decision on whether to keep an office for the governor in Springfield would be part of the transition process.  Patrick re-staffed the office, which had been closed due to budget cuts by Gov. Mitt Romney.

Baker said a smooth transition is his first priority and he vowed to look statewide to fill key jobs in the administration.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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