As The Weather Warms, Municipal Political Races Bloom
It is still somewhat early in the municipal election season in western Massachusetts, but things are beginning to fall into place as candidates begin to emerge.
The decision back in January by Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan not to seek re-election could set off a political domino effect that would reach beyond the city of 42,000 people.
State Senator Don Humason of Westfield has announced plans to run for the open mayoral seat in the city where he was born and raised.
"When Mayor Sullivan made the announcement, I got thinking about it and started hearing from supporters and family members that I should consider it," Humason said. " I thought about it and decided to throw my hat in the ring."
The Republican was elected to the Senate in 2013. Before that he was a state representative from Westfield for a decade.
Despite spending his entire political career on Beacon Hill, Humason is a strong candidate for mayor, according to Matt Szafranski, Editor-in-Chief of Western Mass Politics & Insight.
"He is very well liked in Westfield," Szafranski said of Humason. "A lot of people appreaciate constituent service work and Humason has executed that very well. He will have a large base of people willing to get behind him."
Humason said he will remain a State Senator during the campaign and if he wins in November he will resign from the Senate after his mayoral term begins in January 2020.
The vacant Senate seat would then likely be filled in a special election. The district is made of up 10 municipalities that in addition to Westfield include the cites of Holyoke and Easthampton, the town of Agawam, and part of the city of Chicopee.
Already, State Representative John Velis, a Democrat from Westfield, has stated that he will run for State Senate next year.
The early declaration by Velis is designed to keep other would-be candidates on the sidelines, says Szafranski.
" Velis is already making calls and having meetings with people all throughout the district," said Szafranski. "I am not saying nobody would run on the Democratic side, but it won't be a big field and I think the Republicans will struggle to find someone to run."
Humason is one of just six Republicans in the 40-member Massachusetts Senate. Before Humason, Republican Mike Knapik held the seat for 19 years.
The mayoral election in Chicopee is starting to heat up. On Monday, City Council President John Vieau took out nomination papers for mayor. He is the second person to announce a run for mayor of the second largest city in western Massachusetts.
Joseph Morissette, a former city police officer for 24 years, who is now vice principal at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, is also running for mayor.
Incumbent Richard Kos’s announcement in late February that would not seek a fourth consecutive term as mayor came as a surprise.
Szafranski said it would not be a surprise if the mayoral field in Chicopee grew.
"In which case we will have a preliminary and that will decide a lot about what happens in November," said Szafranski.
If there is a preliminary election in Chicopee it would be on September 17th.
Election Day in Massachusetts is November 5th.