To the Editor,
I strongly support free speech. Posts from critics remain on my Facebook page. When appropriate, I respond to valid concerns. I do not know why Facebook locked your account.
I have worked for years to inform people in Westfield and western Mass on issues and ballot questions, from repealing the Automatic Gas Tax, voting no to extend the term of Mayor to four years, or trying to End Common Core and PARCC testing. Politicians and the media often ignore the will of the people. Ballot questions are considered “newsworthy” and let voters make their voices heard. Some questions have more impact than intended. Only 4% of voters knew the legislature passed Automatic Gas Tax hikes in 2013. Because no tax should go up automatically, thousands of volunteers came together to oppose it. This saved drivers over 2 billion dollars. In 2015, we learned that none of the gas tax increase went to roads, but rather to the MBTA.
A little known fact is when the Olympics wanted to come to Boston, (a 10 billion dollar boondoggle and total nightmare) this group of volunteers threatened to put “No tax funded bailout of the Olympics on the ballot”. They folded their cards and went away. This is the second time I have questions on the Westfield ballot to restore Local Aid and road funding. In 2015, Gov. Baker restored 100 million dollars in road funding. Westfield received $675,000. The state recently passed a 17 billion dollar transportation bond bill, but only allocates 200 million dollars per year, for the entire state to cities for road maintenance. The amount should be 400 to 500 million dollars. If elected, I will file legislation, lobby and vote for increased state road funding.
Not enough “transportation funding” goes to road maintenance. Drivers pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel taxes, and 600 million dollars to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for an operation that costs 60 million to run. Where does the other 540 million dollars go? Westfield collects 5 million dollars in vehicle excise tax. Drivers pay enough in taxes, fees and tolls to maintain our roads. Why are we not getting what we have paid for?
It is the right of the people to petition their government and put forth their own candidates through a write in process when they do not want the candidates the parties or others, have picked. I understand the concern some have about splitting the vote, but there are other issues that are at stake. Some things are worth fighting for. I am grateful for the support many people in Westfield have shown, as evidenced by the yard signs, prayers and donations from residents, without which this campaign would not have moved forward.
Organizations form political action committees (PACS), in order to raise and spend money for the purpose of supporting political candidate, issue campaigns, and ballot question initiatives. There are many PACS in Massachusetts including Republican, Democratic, construction industry, correctional officers, real estate and taxpayer associations, environmental and healthcare groups, dentists, nurses and teachers. Super PAC’s allow billionaires and millionaires to pour unlimited amounts of money into campaigns, drowning out the voices of ordinary voices. That is a big difference. The Massachusetts Majority IEP is spending several hundred thousand dollars this year, 90% to help elect 18 Democrats and 10% to elect four Republicans, including Pease. Our campaign simply wanted to let people know who was influencing their elections and ask the question, “Why is a Super PAC so interested in Westfield elections?” How did this PAC find Kelly Pease when many people in Westfield were asking, “Who is she?”
Big money in politics is a major concern for many voters. The average donation to this Super PAC is over $25,000 per person. Another problem was the deceptive mailers giving the impression Mayor Don Humason endorsed Pease, when Humason had not endorsed anyone. On primary night, that is all we knew. If this mailing swayed just 60 voters into voting for Kelly, it was enough to affect the outcome of an election. The day after the primary, Mayor Humason gave me a letter stating he had not given any organization or candidate permission to use his photo, image of his son or endorsement. Shouldn’t a candidate run on his own merits?
With so few votes deciding the outcome, it was very troubling to learn what else affected the outcome. The following week, the Voter Activity Report showed 14 Democrats voted in a Republican primary. The clerk said it because these Democrats registered as Independents so close to the primary they were listed as Democrats. Many had well-known names with political and other connections. We processed the Activity Report using voter history. Over 600 Independent and Democrat voters with no history of voting in a Republican race had voted in this primary. Many with family names and associates connected to Democrat organizations. This explained how more Independents than Republicans voted in our primary and raised “Red Flags” especially given the interest and massive turnout in the Democrat primary with Neal/Morse and Kennedy/Markey.
Two months later, Kelly has not corrected the misrepresentation or asked the PAC to stop. Requesting a PAC to stop interfering in an election is not “coordination”. At this point it has become consensual. The Super PAC is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help elect Democrats and Kelly Pease on November 3rd, and using the same photo with Don and his son on two more mailings.
Too many people running for office are more concerned with winning and their personal reputation, above all else. I am not a politician, and care too much for the people of Westfield, to turn a blind eye to what we know is going on. In the end, the truth will always shine.