Rep. Velis’ weekly update

Hello Westfield! Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend and the snow day this week.

I wanted to start my update by taking a moment to comment on the potential shutdown of the federal government. At the time of writing this (Friday afternoon), we don’t yet know whether Congress and the President will be able to come up with a spending bill. I sure hope they do, but frankly, the fact that this is even happening at all speaks volumes about the irresponsibility and inefficiency of the U.S. Congress.

The level of partisanship (on both sides of the aisle) is, bluntly put, shameful. The men and women elected to sit on Capitol Hill were put there to govern, not play an increasingly high-stakes game of chicken. Opposing a policy simply because the other party supports it is absolutely not the way to legislate or to govern effectively. It seems as though our Congress has forgotten about the big C word… Compromise! I’m willing to bet every person reading this article had to make a compromise at work today- it’s a pretty basic part of any job, except, it seems, for Members of Congress. It’s time for our federal elected officials to start putting their constituents over their party again and not shut down the government to avoid working together.

On another note, I started off this week at Barbara O’Connor’s 90th Birthday Party on Sunday. I always enjoy attending birthday parties with constituents around town, but this one was extra special. Most of you will probably know the O’Connor family from all the great work they do in Westfield. They are truly some of the most generous and involved people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, so getting to celebrate Barbara’s birthday with the whole family was a treat. Barbara and her family have been serving this community for years without any expectation of anything in return- so I just wanted to say thank you again for the magnificent job you all do and for throwing an awesome party!

On Thursday, the Mayor hosted a meeting for local officials and representatives from the Westfield Spanish American Association to discuss the ongoing efforts to assist our new residents arriving from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. WSAA has been doing a fantastic job reaching out to new arrivals and helping them to settle in. Unfortunately, permanent housing has been hard to come by for many of these families, but the city and several non-profits have been working hard to find accommodations. Similarly, the Westfield Public Schools are hard at work making sure that the new students are readjusting to their environment, and going above and beyond to ensure that they have necessities like winter coats and warm clothing. It’s inspiring to see our community coming together to help our newest residents, and I encourage everyone to reach out a hand if you meet them around town.

Finally, I ended the week by paying a visit to the Holyoke Transition Program with Sherry Elander, our local Transition teacher for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I love visiting with her students whenever I get the chance to. Advocating for those who can’t always advocate for themselves is one of the most meaningful parts of my job, and has long been a passion of mine. In fact, I started my public service as a member of the Westfield Commission for Citizens with Disabilities, when Sherry was the Chairwoman. Sherry is truly a Godsend to our community and I know that we are blessed to have her working with so many young adults in the area. Spending a few hours with her students was probably the best end to a week I’ve had in a long time, and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

That’s it for this week, folks. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, my office can be reached at (413) 572-3920 or [email protected]. Have a great weekend!

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