Name: Kelly Pease
Address: 382 Montgomery Road
Occupation: Retired Army Officer
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from WSU Master of Law Degree from WNE
What experience and qualifications do you have that would be an asset to the city?
With my 20 years of active duty in the Army, I have worked across services and with many different countries to accomplish the mission. Having worked as a legislative aide, I learned how the State House worked and how to help constituents. With my experience in the military and knowledge of the State House I will work across party lines on Beacon Hill for Westfield.
Have you recently met with city department heads to discuss their needs/concerns/budgets and if so, which ones? What was your takeaway?
I met with Joseph Rouse from the Health Department about Covid-19 and his concerns about the spike we are seeing and the impact the virus is having on our community. Also, the water engineer and Councilor Kristen Mello about our water issues. Based on those conversations, the state needs to help provide testing for all 15 chemicals and not just the 6 that are currently required. I also met with School Superintendent, Stefan Czaporowski. His main concern is managing the COVID-19 pandemic. We also discussed unfunded mandates from the state and about next year’s budget allocation from the state. More parents are homeschooling, and our school budget next year will be based on this year’s enrollment numbers. If many of those students return to school next year, there would be an impact to our school budget using the current funding formula. As your representative, I would propose that the state budget use FY20 enrollment numbers and not FY21. I will also advocate against any unfunded mandates from the state. I also spoke with a few principals and many teachers. They are concerned about managing educational needs during the pandemic and unfunded mandates from the state. This week I had a conversation with Principal Tolpa at Franklin Elementary School. We talked about the plan to combine Abner Gibbs and Franklin schools. I would support funding for school infrastructure improvements for our city. City Engineer Mark Cressotti and I discussed current and future needs of our city’s roads. We will need about $4M a year to manage our roads over time. This would allow the city to properly repair our roads. The state does not adequately provide the funding needed. As your representative, I will advocate for increased Chapter 90 funding to properly repair and maintain our roads, not by raising taxes, but by being more fiscally responsible.
What are your main concerns & potential solutions for the city?
The immediate issue is the COVID-19 pandemic and the current spike in cases. We’ve already felt an enormous impact on our lives and local economy. The spike could threaten a return to reduced capacity for businesses and going to full remote learning for our schools. The schools are prepared for remote learning, but our children need the social and emotional aspects of being in school. State mandates need to work to protect us while taking in the emotional and depression issues, along with the impact on businesses that could occur from a prolonged lockdown. Other concerns are roads, schools, clean water, and taxes. Roads: The state takes in almost $800M a year in gas tax. The cities and towns make up over 80% of the road miles in the state and only receive 25% of the money. This is not equitable and needs to be addressed within the State budget. Schools: The top concerns for our schools are managing educational needs during the pandemic, unfunded mandates, concerns with the FY 2022 budget that could be based on FY 2021 student enrollment, and infrastructure. Water: Wells 1 and 2 moving forward and wells 7 and 8 are exceeding quality standards. I would ask our elected representatives in Washington D.C. for funding to reimburse cities impacted by PFAS, while also advocating at the State House for support and expanding testing. Taxes: New taxes and property taxes that keep increasing impact all citizens, but especially those on fixed incomes. I will advocate for money for our roads, schools, and clean water, but not by raising taxes. The state needs to be more fiscally responsible and take care of our core needs first.
What prompted you to run for election?
I have always been community service orientated and at a young age I joined the volunteer fire department, became a part-time police officer, and was elected to the Board of Selectman. I then join the military and served for 20 years before retiring. Service to my community and country have always been part of who I am. I have always been interested in how our government works and functions and now I want to serve the City of Westfield.
Why should residents vote for you?
With my experience in the military, as a legislative aide, being a taxpayer, and having a child in our schools, I believe I am the best qualified to represent the people of Westfield. During my military career I worked with different services within the U.S. and trained, led and worked with many foreign governments. I would take that experience to the State House to work with all legislators to advocate for our city. Also, with my experience as a legislative aide, my knowledge of the State House would let me hit the ground running. Lastly, I am not a politician but will have a fresh prospective and will work hard for you.