Westfield Newsroom

John Velis seeks state senate seat


Name: John Velis

Occupation: State Representative of Westfield – 4th Hampden District, Major – U.S. Army Reserves


What experience will you bring to the Senate that will benefit constituents?

My experience as an attorney at law and a lawmaker, and my service with the U.S. Army has shaped my approach to politics during my six years in office. My service, specifically my two tours in Afghanistan, taught me the importance of getting an objective, working together to get the job done, and not caring who gets credit.

Now, in my six years as a representative I have been able to build and cultivate relationships with legislators, leaders, and constituents on both sides of the aisle to help deliver results for the people of Westfield. My bipartisan record shows that I’ve done this, and with the consistent conversations I’ve already had with house and senate leadership I can hit the ground running and begin working towards the results the people of the senate district need on day one. Now more than ever – due to the pandemic and wealth of experience that will be leaving the Western Mass delegation – the people of this senate district need a leader, someone with a strong, experienced voice that will be heard from the onset.

I have devoted my adult life to service above self, as a veteran and public servant, and not a career politician.


Our readers are primarily Westfield and Southwick residents. What are the key issues you feel should be addressed in these two communities, outside of the current pandemic?

This year, I met with committees in Southwick to discuss the algae blooms problem at Congamond Lake. In addition, I met with the Southwick Select Board to discuss the potentially devastating impact a limited summer at Congamond Lake would have on their local economy. Southwick, like every town in this district, needs a leader who has a seat at the table. In similar meetings with town councils throughout the district, I got a firm understanding of the hurt that unfunded mandates bring on smaller communities such as Southwick and the Hilltowns.

In Westfield, transportation infrastructure and water are two of the most important issues the community faces. I will continue to vote for increases to local aid, and vote against increases to property taxes. Fixing Westfield’s roads and bridges will continue to be a foremost priority for me. I have a record of meeting the challenge of securing funds for the community I represent, that has been my job and I’ve done my job. Obviously, there has been the issue of PFAS contamination in water here in Westfield. That is a fight where I’ve been on the front lines from the very beginning, and will continue to do so. Recently, I sponsored and passed an amendment that will now enable Westfield to be reimbursed for money incurred from the cost of PFAS contamination.


COVID-19 is costing the state and local communities, and an extremely tight budget is predicted. Chapter 90 and 70 funds could be less than normal. How do you plan to seek funds for Westfield and Southwick?

Despite that potential impediment, I plan to seek Chapter 90 (roads and bridges) and 70 (schools) funds with the same intensity and protocol that I have for the past six years. My record shows I’ve already secured both Chapter 90 and 70 funds for my constituents time and time again.

When it comes to passing legislation and securing funds on Beacon Hill, three things are of the utmost importance: experience, bipartisanship, and forging relationships and building alliances across party lines. In fact, while I was answering this question I got a phone call from the Senate President to discuss the needs of the communities in this district.

On May 19th, if I’m elected; nobody will have to teach me how a bill becomes a law, how it moves through the committee process, how to secure resources for my district, or build alliances. This all comes with a learning curve, and in these troubling times this district can’t afford to gamble on inexperience. It is absolutely critical that the people of this district have representation that already has a seat at the table. Now more than ever, Western Mass needs a seasoned and proven leader.

People often say that the Commonwealth government doesn’t make communities west of Worcester a priority. Do you believe the State Senate has the interests of western Massachusetts residents on its radar on a regular basis? Why or why not? And, if not, what are your plans to make western Massachusetts’ voice heard at the State House?

To be clear, Westfield has never been forgotten with me as their representative and this district will never be forgotten with me as their senator. During my time in office I have sponsored legislation, passed legislation and brought back thousands upon thousands of dollars to this district for projects such as the expansion of Baystate Noble, improvements at the Westfield Senior Center, securing funds to help Baystate combat the opioid epidemic, and more. To put it bluntly, my Western Mass voice has been heard in Boston and will never be silenced on behalf of this district.

Campaigns are replete with candidates promising things that they know will never be delivered. Seldom do we see an elected official who makes promises and delivers. My record, not my words, show that I have delivered.



What is the top priority you have heard from constituents during your campaign and how will you address it if elected?

In speaking with thousands of people in the senate district I constantly heard their cry and desire for effective representation not hindered by partisan politics and bickering. People are sick and tired of the usual democrat vs republican, liberal vs conservative arguments; they want someone who will listen to their needs, work in their interests, and be able to deliver the results they need.

My record of bipartisanship speaks for itself. I have a proven, documented record as one of the most bipartisan independent lawmakers in Massachusetts, who puts party philosophy in the backseat and does what is best for his constituents. I go to bed at night knowing that both a democrat and republican can come up with a good idea. People who encourage others to vote along party lines on their campaign signs and mailers are contributing to the stage being set for accomplishing nothing.

Campaign materials should read to vote for the candidate, not any political party.

Why should you be the next state senator representing the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District?

Six years ago, when I first started campaigning for representative, I would knock on doors in Westfield and look constituents in the eye and tell them I would vote in the interest of my constituents and not any political party. Many of them expressed skepticism because they had heard that before, that actions speak louder than words.

Six years later, my actions have spoken much louder than words. I have always voted in the best interest of the people I represent regardless of party pressure and I will continue to do so as long as I remain in public life.

As I said before, I firmly believe that both Democrats and Republicans are very capable of coming up with good ideas. Which is why on countless occasions, since I’ve been a state representative, I’ve crossed party lines on a number of issues because it has been in the best interest of my constituents.

My type of politics is unique in that I would never say vote for me because I’m a Democrat or a Republican, vote for me because of who I am, what I stand for, and what I’ve accomplished. In my experience, people who tout their party bonafides often find themselves quickly relegated to the sidelines with no voice.

Western Mass can’t afford a partisan cheerleader from the sidelines, they need a leader with a proven record of getting things done. Over the past six years my record speaks for itself. What my record shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that I am a public servant and not a party servant.

On May 19th, in the special election, I humbly ask for your vote.

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