© 2022
1078x200-header-mic.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Rep. Antonio Delgado will be sworn in as N.Y, Lieutenant Governor on Wednesday
News

Agawam City Councilor running for state senate

Cecelia_Calabrese_edit.jpg
Cecilia Calabrese
/
Facebook
Agawam City Council vice president Cecilia Calabrese

Republican Cecilia Calabrese will challenge Democratic State Senator John Velis

A longtime City Councilor in Agawam has launched a campaign for a State Senate seat in western Massachusetts.

Cecelia Calabrese is running as a Republican in the newly drawn and newly renamed Hampden and Hampshire District. It consists of the cities of Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield and part of Chicopee along with the towns of Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, and West Springfield.

The district is currently represented by Democrat John Velis of Westfield. He is running for reelection.

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Calabrese about her campaign.

Cecelia Calabrese
I am running, because I have been actually recruited to do so. I been on the city council in Agawam, for starting my ninth term. And I've taken the extraordinary step, not a lot of councilors will do this, but I got very involved with the Massachusetts Municipal Association. And through my years of working on that organization, I've learned so much more about the region, specifically Western Massachusetts, and the Commonwealth as a whole. What I have determined that we really need a stronger voice in Boston from Western Massachusetts to advocate for our needs out here. And so I'm running to, you know, basically promote the notions of freedom, opportunity, self-determination, giving parents a voice in their own children's education, to help business owners recover from COVID. And really bring more resources back to the region.

Paul Tuthill 
What are t specifically, what are some of the areas that you think this region is being shortchanged because of what's going on Beacon Hill?

Cecelia Calabrese
Oh, gosh, let's talk about infrastructure. We'll start with the basic concept of our roads. Just recently, I was driving through the district and goint up this mountain road and through Westfield, and what do I see but a sign that says, pass at your own risk on one of the main thoroughfares through Westfield? And it was because the, the potholes are so bad, they're so deep, there so numerous that you literally have signs up there saying pass at your own risk--, that's, that should never happen. You know, we've got businesses that are starting to recover from COVID, as we come out of this, and they're going to need help things with, like, the Workers Compensation Trust Fund, okay, that needs to be looked at and replenished, and, and in a fair and equitable manner. I'm, personally, I'm very concerned about all the freebies,that the mayor of Boston is starting to institute. As we know, these things cost money, and the government doesn't make money. It takes money from taxpayers. And so what I'm concerned with is that more and more of the Western Massachusetts tax payer revenue is going to go to fund the freebies in Boston, rather than coming back to take care of what we need to have taken care of here in the district.

Paul Tuthill 
What specific what freebies are you talking about the free no-fare bus service that she's proposing?
Cecelia Calabrese
That's right. That's right. You know,

Paul Tuthill 
I thought that was going to be subsidized by the city of Boston using their some of their ARPA money.

Cecelia Calabrese
It's still taxpayer money. You know, ARPA money is taxpayer money. And I understand you know, where she's coming from, and, and sometimes people will get the notion well, well, gee, that's that's federal money that's coming in to the Commonwealth. And that's where she's getting it from. But what happens is when you have a system like that, and it's free, what's going to happen? Two years down the line three years down the line, you know, when ARPA money goes away, and maybe there's a shift in priorities, I just I'm concerned about the long term outlook for our district. You know, I tend to be very vocal when it comes to things like taxes, like, you know, I was the statewide chair to stop the TCI. gas tax. I helped fight against the automatic gas tax increases a few years ago. And so my concern really is making sure that Western Massachusetts gets the resources it need for our quality of life here.

Paul Tuthill 
You mentioned those those statewide efforts, the referendum on rolling back the increase in the gas tax -the gasoline tax. You also mentioned your involvement with the Massachusetts Municipal Association. There had been some talk that you were going to run for lieutenant governor, but you decided not to, obviously.

Cecelia Calabrese
I was very being very aggressively recruited to run for lieutenant governor. And as much as I love the 351 cities and towns here in Massachusetts, I'm a I'm a Western Massachusetts gal. My heart belongs here. I have over a 30 year history. In Western Massachusetts. I have family not only in Agawam, but in West Springfield. I have, you know, close ties to Westfield and Holyoke and all around this district. And so I felt as though my efforts are best focused on the nine cities and towns and the nine communities that the Hamden Hampshire senatorial district represents, rather than the whole Commonwealth.

Paul Tuthill 
This district is is changing somewhat as a result of redistricting two towns that are in it are ,actually three towns,that are in it now, Granville, Southwick, and Tollandare being are being moved to a different district. West Springfield is being added. This district had been represented for a couple of decades by Republicans, Mike Knapik, Don Humason, until the current State Senator Democrat John Velis won in a special election in 2020. Do you think it's still a district that's friendly for for Republicans? Or has the redistricting change that?

Cecelia Calabrese
No, I do think it's still a a Republican friendly district, a Republican voting district in general. It's no secret that West Springfield tends to be a little more purple. They tend to vote Democrat and Republican. The nice thing about this particular campaign and my style, I'm not so much worried about do I have support of Democrats? Do I have support of Republicans? My concern is do I have support of the people, the voters? I've always been one of these people that takes my message directly to the people. I'm a tireless door-to- door campaigner I you'll find me standing out in fact, you could have found them standing out in front of the Big Y in West Springfield, for example, you know, in the in the freezing cold last weekend just to be able to talk to people meet people let them get to know who I am. So yeah, I do think that this is a very winnable district for me. And I'm looking forward to the campaign.

Paul Tuthill 

So the strategy is going to be you're going to do a lot of door knocking a lot of a lot of one on one campaigning is that the is that the plan? What's what's the, what's the what's the big message you want to try to get across to people at this point?

Cecelia Calabrese

I'm here for them. I'm accessible. I really don't anticipate a lot of big name endorsements from politicians. Because I tend to identify more with the small business owner, I myself know what it is to create jobs, to build small business. I speak that language. I've worked as a factory worker in my younger years. I speak that language I have a shared common experience with the voters in this district. And that's why when I saw the redistricting of the Hamden Hampshire senatorial district, I knew that I'm the right person for this job.