WESTFIELD- Mayoral candidate and State Sen. Donald F. Humason Jr. talked about his plans for the city if he were to become mayor and took audience questions Monday morning at the monthly Mayor’s Coffee Hour.
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan chose to forgo his time to address residents and business owners in the city in order to give the two candidates — Humason and Westfield Police Capt. Michael A. McCabe – a chance to speak before the same audience.
Humason began his speech by saying that he was not originally planning on running for mayor. It was not until Sullivan announced that he would not be seeking reelection that he chose to run for the position.
“When Brian made the decision that he wasn’t going to run for reelection I was A: sad, because I think Brian Sullivan has done a very good job as our mayor. But B: I was excited about the opportunity. I thought about whether I would want to leave the state house and come back to city hall.” said Humason.
Humason then spoke about his life growing up in Westfield and his path through government as a staffer, and then as an elected official himself.
He then shared his major concerns with the city, saying that he sees taxes being raised each year, the city’s notorious pothole problem, the north side water and PFAS problems, and the city’s reputation for having its residents talk down about it on social media.
“My goal in running for mayor is to meet as many people that I haven’t met yet, as many organizations that I haven’t worked with, to introduce myself to talk about what I would like to see for the city and what my style would be as a leader.” said Humason, “If you’re looking for a very strong, very dominant, very ‘go-get-em’ type of guy, please vote for Mike McCabe.”
Humason added that, if one is looking for someone who has worked with the established structure of government as determined by the charters and laws of the Commonwealth, then they should vote for him.
He noted that the city has a “weak mayor” form of government, where the mayor’s powers are limited compared to the executive positions of other municipalities and governments.
Humason then said he has been involved with many of the state-level conversations about a possible interchange and other state-level votes that take place that may affect the city. He said that the review of a possible new exit on I90 is happening because he and another senator put it into an amendment after hearing complaints about the lack of an exit from Hilltown residents.
“That would do two things by giving businesses and residents access to the hilltowns on the turnpike. It would also help take the hilltown traffic off of route 20, Elm St., and near the turnpike, freeing up a little bit of space for us during peak rush hours.” said Humason.
He then spoke on his disappointment in the low voter turnout on the day of the primary election in which Humason and McCabe came out as the two finalists. He said the turnout of approximately 16 percent was not a good thing for the city, and that himself and McCabe were both upset at the low turnout.
“We did our best to turn out our supporters that day but people chose to stay home.” said Humason.
Humason then began taking questions from the crowd, the first of which was an inquiry of how he plans to bring in and keep more businesses in the city while having the companies be responsible corporate citizens. Part of his response was that trucks and trains could be used more efficiently within the city to reduce traffic and pollution. He said that CSX, a railroad freight company that operates up and down the east coast, will send in a couple of rail cars worth of goods each day behind the Westwood building. The goods are then sent to the north side of the city and Holyoke without ever being driven on the road.
“For every train car that we can bring in on the rails, that’s about two-and-a-half trucks we keep off the roads,” said Humason.
He added that part of being mayor is balancing the needs of regular citizens and businesses in the city so that their interests are both met.
Another question was whether Humason would support the expansion of Barnes Airport as a business to bring in more aviation companies. He answered by saying that Barnes Regional Airport is an untapped resource in the city and that allowing them to expand will benefit the city.
The final question for Humason was how his experience in budgeting compares to that of McCabe. He responded by saying that the budgets he typically dealt with are at the state level of $43.5 billion, and therefore larger than the Westfield Police Department budget.
Humason is also a member of the State Senate Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for crafting the initial state budget each year.