Rep. Velis’ weekly update

Hello Westfield, I can’t believe it is already November. Hope you all enjoyed your Halloween festivities!

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend some important events in the community to support two great causes. First, on Thursday night, I attended Westfield High School’s Caps for a Cause, which benefitted the Westfield Drug Task Force. I was delighted to meet countless young individuals from the Westfield community working to fight the opioid epidemic. The interactions I had with these remarkable kids reinforced the importance of this fight, and I’m proud of the work they have done. There are countless people that have been affected by some sort of drug addiction, whether family members, friends, or the individuals, themselves. It is extremely important that this issue remains a central focus in our community so we can work to heal those affected and prevent its spread.

On Friday morning, I gave the opening remarks at the Veteran’s job fair in Holyoke. This event was very well attended, with thirty employers from Home Depot to Sunshine Village to UPS looking to hire local veterans. Veteran unemployment is one of my top issues and I’m happy to say that it gave me the chance to talk about the importance of incentive programs, like the $2000 tax credit for small businesses who hire a veteran included in next year’s state budget. Our veterans often have a hard time settling into civilian life after leaving the service, and I believe it is important that this group of individuals does not struggle to find a job on top of the many other challenges they face. Incentivizing companies to hire veterans is a step in the right direction and I’m glad that the Governor made this program a priority.

On the topic of veterans, they have sacrificed a lot to protect our democracy and our rights, especially our right to free and fair elections. One of your most important duties as an American is to express your right to vote.  As most of you will know, next Tuesday, November 7th, the city is holding their biannual election. No matter who you are voting for, I highly encourage everyone to head to the polls.

While I was deployed in Afghanistan, one of my main missions was to help their military force prepare for their country’s national election. Some intelligence we received warned that the Taliban was targeting polling centers with bomb threats, meant to deter citizens from voting for positive change in their country. When Election Day came, the threat was still imminent, but the Afghanistan citizens still turned out to vote in droves.

If I learned one thing from my time in Afghanistan, it is that no matter the adversity these people faced, nothing could discourage them from getting out to vote. They cherished the chance to voice their opinions and concerns and to potentially change the direction of their nation. While Tuesday’s elections are on a much smaller scale, they are no less important.

Too often, we take for granted our right to choose our government. Turnout for off-year elections is historically low, so we need to do everything in our power to encourage our friends and neighbors to vote, as well. The more people who vote, the more the local government will truly be representative of the people who chose them to govern.

That’s all for this week, folks! As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office. We can be reached at (413)-572-3920 or [email protected] with any concerns you may have.

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