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Mass. Lt. Gov. Continues Municipal Outreach Efforts

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WAMC
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Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is working to build strong ties between the Baker administration and municipal government leaders.   She is doing it one small meeting at a time as she travels around the state. 

Polito has visited more than 40 municipalities in Massachusetts since late January, leaving her with more than 300 to go. Her plan is to visit all 351 communities in the state before her first four-year term is up.

Each visit, like the one last week in Springfield, typically consists of an hour-long closed-door meeting with a mayor, or other top elected official, and municipal department heads.

" It is really giving me and the governor  and our cabinet  a sense of where the priorities are, and how we can invest in regions and places like Springfield to help them achieve their goals, " she said.

Shortly after taking office in January, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order that made Polito the administration’s liaison to the state’s cities and towns.  She chairs the new Community Compact Council, which is populated by several members of Baker’s cabinet including those responsible for economic development, housing, and transportation policies.

The first stop Polito made in her new role as municipal liaison was on January 29th at Holyoke City Hall.  She came back to western Massachusetts for meetings last month in Northampton and Easthampton.  Last week, the tour took her to Agawam, Westfield, West Springfield, and Springfield.

Polito hailed economic development efforts in Springfield.

" I am just really thrilled for Springfield," she said.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said it was a key move by Baker to make Politio the liaison to local governments because, as a former selectmen in her hometown Shrewsbury, she understands “the nuts and bolts of it.”

" That is invaluable, to have that conduit," said Sarno.

Springfield City Councilor Tim Rooke praised the Baker-Polito administration’s outreach efforts.

" I think this administration is task oriented. They are looking for partnerships with cities and towns. You'll see a significant impact in Springfield and other communities.  It is an exciting time," Rooke said.

 During the private meeting, Springfield city officials sought a state commitment of $12 million to put the finishing touches on the $88 million Union Station Transportation Center, which is scheduled to open next year. 

There was a request for state help in creating a new center in Springfield for workforce development and manufacturing innovation.

Officials also raised the issue of unfunded state mandates for such things as school transportation.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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