In light of recent campaign literature that has come out in the final days leading up to the election, State Representative candidate Aaron Vega has released a video response. The text from the video is below.
During this campaign I have articulated a clear vision of a Holyoke that is welcoming to new businesses and supports current businesses to build and bring in needed jobs for our residents. A city that provides world-class education for all of our students. And as a state representative, I want to be sure that Massachusetts continues to be a leader in providing quality healthcare to all of its residents. I know that this vision is in stark contrast with that of my opponents and expect that they would point out those differences. What I did not expect would be for my opponents to begin to use untruths. Unfortunately, this is exactly what my Republican opponent has decided to do.
Recently, my opponent said that I have paid volunteers to go door-to-door and canvass for me. This is a direct insult to me and all of the volunteers on my campaign. Since the spring we have knocked on over 10,000 doors across the city. We have done this because we share a vision for what this city can be. I am very proud of all my volunteers and would not have been able to do any of this without their support.
My opponent also stated that, if elected, I would attempt to take pay from both the city council and the state legislature. This subject has come up before and I have stated over and over again that, if elected, and if I keep my position on the city council, I will not take the pay and I would not run for re-election on the city council, thus saving the city money and being an advocate and your voice both at the city and the state level.
Any person who enters into politics understands that negative campaigning is part of the territory. When I made a decision to run for state representative, I knew that my record would be on everyone’s radar, and scrutinized—both my public record, my business record, and most likely my personal record. But I have always been honest about where I stand on issues, I’ve always been accessible to the public and I will continue to be so.
This campaign has always been about being positive, moving forward, and envisioning the future, not about divisiveness or trying to divide this great city.
We have less than one week to go until Election Day. I would ask you to tell your friends, family and neighbors about the vision that we all share for Holyoke. Not about old Holyoke or new Holyoke, but about One Holyoke that works together to move forward. If you have any questions for me or my campaign, please check out my website at vegaforholyoke.com.
The Vega for Holyoke campaign is pleased to announce that Aaron Vega, candidate for State Representative in the 5th Hampden District, has received the endorsement of two prominent local leaders, former State Senator and Mayor Martin Dunn and former Speaker of the House David Bartley.
“We feel Aaron will do an outstanding job as a state legislator. As a two-term councilor, he is familiar will local issues, such as our difficult fiscal condition, the help that is needed for our schools, and the needs of the Holyoke Soldiers Home,” said Senator Dunn.
“Holyoke has incredible needs. Aaron Vega understands those needs and can articulate them in Boston,” said Speaker Bartley. He continued, “We think it is important that we send someone to Boston who can hit the ground running.”
Vega also picked up endorsements from two of the largest unions in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and SEIU 1199. Combined, the two organizations represent over a thousand Holyoke residents. The endorsements give Vega a strong boost going into the primary election on Thursday, September 6.
“I’m honored to have the support of local leaders such as Speaker Bartley and Senator Marty Dunn. Their knowledge and unique understanding of the workings of the Statehouse have been invaluable. I’m also honored to have the endorsements of our teachers and healthcare workers,” said Councilor Vega.
These endorsements have added to the long list of individuals and organizations that have recognized Aaron Vega’s ability to understand statewide issues and their impact locally. A full list of endorsements can be found at vegaforholyoke.com/endorsements.
Join us at the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round for a night of free rides, free popcorn, free lemonade and a whole lot of fun!
What: Family Fun Night – Free Rides – Free Popcorn – Free Lemonade – Free FUN!
When: Friday, August 17, 2012
Where: Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, 221 Appleton Street, Holyoke, MA
Who: Vega for Holyoke and you!
Time: 5pm to 7pm
RSVP on Facebook (and see who else is coming) or just show up!
At an official announcement today at Vega for Holyoke campaign headquarters, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse endorsed Aaron Vega for State Representative of the 5th Hampden District in this fall’s upcoming election.
Below is the full text of Mayor Alex Morse’s statement at today’s press conference announcing his endorsement of Aaron Vega for State Representative.
First I’d like to thank Mike Kane for his years of service, and wish him luck in his new endeavors.
This turn of events has left only one candidate on the ballot for the Democratic primary, City Councilor Aaron Vega.
I have recognized Aaron’s hard work on the city council over his two terms and have been impressed with his understanding of the issues, and the thoughtful way he handles the concerns of both his colleagues and constituents.
He has demonstrated himself to be true leader and an independent thinker who rarely follows the pack.
As Mayor, my major areas of focus are early childhood literacy, building a local economy around art, innovation, and technology, supporting community policing initiatives, and marketing Holyoke as a great place to live, work, and have fun.
With the completion of the MGHPCC this winter, the completion of our Senior Center, Holyoke Public Library, and the beginning of phase II of the CanalWalk, Holyoke is poised to undergo a substantial renaissance, and our city needs a strong voice in Boston to represent our needs at such an important time.
It is because of this, that today I endorse Aaron Vega to be Holyoke’s next State Representative. This election is not about political partisanship, Democrat or Republican, but about leadership. And Aaron is a leader.
I am excited about working together with Aaron to address many of the issues facing Holyoke at the state level, and hope that all Holyokers will join me in my support and Vote Vega on Thursday, September 6.
Here is the text from Aaron Vega’s speech regarding the endorsement:
Thank you, Mayor Morse for your support. I appreciate your willingness to work together on so many issues, including the Ordinance Enforcement Task Force.
I also would like to thank Mike Kane for his service. Mike has served Holyoke for many years and we should grateful for that work. I wish Mike well on his next journey.
The dynamic of this election season has certainly shifted, but my focus on engaging voters in Holyoke around the issues that affect our families and our city stays the same. I am looking forward to moving ahead with my campaign.
When I look around at the people who are making a difference in this city, I see the important legacy of families who have been here for a long time. I also see the energy and vibrancy of the new residents who have chosen to make a life in Holyoke. It is the fusion of these two great forces that will help Holyoke succeed.
Let’s seize this opportunity to move forward as One Holyoke and remain focused on the bright future Holyoke can have.
- A Holyoke where every school child has a path to success.
- A Holyoke that guarantees an excellent quality of life, no matter where you come from or how long you have been here.
- A Holyoke that every resident is proud to call home.
I will continue to work hard over the summer and fall to get that message out to voters in every ward. I hope you will help me do this by volunteering to go door to door and make phone calls. Please visit vegaforholyoke.com to sign up for the newsletter and join Team Vega.
Most importantly, I ask you to tell your friends, tell your family, and tell your neighbors to Vote Vega to be your State Representative on September 6th.
Supporters of an expanded bottle bill rallied in Boston this week to urge lawmakers to bring the bill up for a vote before the end of the legislative session. The expansion of the bill would include a five-cent refundable deposit for non-carbonated beverage containers, such as those for water, juice and energy drinks.
The main benefits of the bottle bill are:
- It will help keep litter off our streets through the “nickel incentive.”
- It will save municipalities’ collection and disposal costs
According to a state DEP study, there would be an annual cost savings of up to $7 million across the Commonwealth. Holyoke’s DPW has said that no other bill being discussed right now would have more of an impact on saving taxpayer money and keeping our streets clean than the expanded bottle bill.
There is potential for additional economic benefit by creating new jobs to handle the increase in bottle redemption, and charitable groups, such as local athletic clubs or scout troops, could potentially raise millions of dollars.
Some critics have labeled this deposit as a “tax,” but the fact is that the five cents for each bottle is a refund that would be returned to the purchaser at redemption.
Other opponents have said that an expanded bottle bill will result in higher costs for consumers and small businesses that handle the redeemed bottles. This claim was examined by surveying businesses in neighboring states. Maine has an expanded bottle bill and, by contrast, New Hampshire has no deposit. DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell testified that his staff found no difference in costs between Massachusetts and the two other states. Business owners and store managers in Maine reported no problems absorbing the additional load of bottles.
A majority of Massachusetts is already on board. Last year, MassINC released a poll showing that 77% of residents are in favor of expanding the bottle bill.
More than half the cities and towns in Massachusetts have supported an expanded bottle bill through ballot resolutions. A majority of legislators and Governor Patrick would vote for if it was up for a vote, but it has languished in committee for years.
During this time the streets of Holyoke have been littered with plastic and glass, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands in additional clean-up costs. This senseless waste of our limited financial resources needs to end.
It is time for the legislature to pass this bill before the end of the formal session on July 31.
What follows is Aaron Vega’s statement regarding State Representative Mike Kane’s recent decision to end his re-election campaign.
State Representative Mike Kane has released a statement saying that he has decided to end his bid for re-election. Mike has served Holyoke for many years and I am grateful for his service. I wish Mike well on his next journey.
Mike’s change of plans will certainly change the dynamic of the coming election season, but my focus on engaging voters in Holyoke around the issues that effect our families and our city stays the same. I am looking forward to moving ahead with my campaign. Campaigns are wonderful opportunities to connect with voters and talk to them about their concerns and their aspirations for the city we all love. I have started that work already and I look forward to continuing it throughout the summer and the fall.
My campaign for State Representative is in full swing. Since we announced in February, support has been flowing in from all over the city. We have had volunteers of every age and background sign up to help knock on doors, make phone calls, and work in our campaign office. Ultimately, this campaign is going to be won by going door to door throughout the city, and engaging with voters one on one.
The question I get asked most by voters is, “Why would you want to be a State Representative?”
My answer is clear: I’m running to be State Representative because I feel that our city continues to face real challenges and I will be the person on the front line who will fight for policies that will make a positive difference for our city.
As a City Councilor at Large for the past two terms, I have a solid understanding of the complex issues that face Holyoke today, how the state can both help and, occasionally, stand in the way of progress.
I will be an advocate for solutions that can improve the quality of life in Holyoke by focusing on bringing substantial jobs, improving education, and working towards a healthcare system that will benefit all.
The response to this message has been overwhelming, and is why we were able to help register dozens of new voters and hand in close to twice the required number of signatures. It is also why I have received endorsements from progressive statewide organizations such as UAW 2233, Neighbor to Neighbor, NARAL, and Mass Alliance.
I continue to run VegaYoga & Movement Arts with my wife Debra, and work on City Council. The next month on the council is a crucial one. We are reviewing the mayor’s budget, and getting ready to approve the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s plan before it is submitted to the state.
I remain focused on Holyoke’s bright future. A city with a vibrant downtown, neighborhoods that are safe to raise our families, and a world-class education system that addresses the whole child. The only way to reach this goal is if we remain committed to the cause, both here and on Beacon Hill.
Once again Massachusetts is leading the rest of the country in supporting marriage equality. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston today said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits.
I am honored Massachusetts is a leader in marriage equality and I will work to continue to support it as well as anti-discrimination legislation for LGBTQ individuals. Marriage is about love, not politics or ideology. We should all feel proud to live in a state that recognizes that. The data has proven that claims such as same-sex marriage will lead to more divorce, create unstable homes for children and be a negative impact on social values are all false. Divorce rates among same-sex couples are lower than marriages between men and women. Same-sex couples continue to be strong parents and provide loving homes for children to grow up in. Also expanding marriage for same-sex couples has had nothing but a positive impact on the economy.
I believe marriage equality includes not only the right to marry who one wants to but the right to access any all benefits bestowed to marriages between men and women. I applaud the court’s opinion as well as President Obama’s recent stand on marriage equality and I hope we can move as a country toward marriage equality for everyone. Government should not be allowed to discriminate at any level, be it local, state or federal.
State Representative Campaign Announcement
City Councilor Aaron Vega
February 14, 2012
Thank you for joining me here today. It is great to be surrounded by so many friends and supporters as we stand together and declare our love for Holyoke on this Valentines Day.
I’d also like to thank my family for being here and supporting me…
My wife Debra has become my constant companion in life and work. She came with me to Holyoke very early in our relationship and instantly fell in love with the character, culture and charm that has attracted people here for over 150 years. Soon after, she and I decided it was time to plant our roots and opened up a small business in downtown, right across the street at Open Square. Without you by my side none of this would be possible, thank you.
And, my father Carlos who instilled in me the deep love that I hold for our city today.
When I was young I hated meetings because he would drag me to them, who knew that I would have grown to be someone who attends more meetings than he ever imagined.
Moving to Holyoke as a young child, his was one of the first Spanish speaking families living here. He spent over 40 years working tirelessly to improve the lives of his neighbors through civic engagement and political action, paving the way for so many. And to show how far along Holyoke has come, soon you can visit the Carlos Vega Park in South Holyoke and then explore his archives and collected works at Wistariahurst Museum. I’m happy to announce that they have recently received a NEH grant to preserve this collection for generations to come. Dad, you are more responsible than anyone for me standing here today, thank you.
My journey began many years ago on Park Street, what is now Clemente Avenue, only a few blocks away from here. Growing up in South Holyoke I attended Morgan Elementary School and eventually Holyoke Community College. Completing my Bachelors degree, with a concentration in film, at Keene State College, I soon became a film editor, working on projects for Ken Burns, PBS, and HBO.
This experience taught me how to work collaboratively, how to execute a vision and allowed me to grow personally. When I came back to Holyoke, after opening Vega Yoga and Movement Arts, I turned to serving on civic boards. Eventually I decided to jump into the fray and run for City Council.
Four years ago when that decision was made I could not foresee being here today in Heritage Park, the soul of our downtown, on the banks of the canals that gave Holyoke the energy it needed to become the “Queen of Industrial Cities” and that now are the key instrument for our rebirth, to announce my candidacy for State Representative for the 5th Hampden District.
I am running to be your State Representative not only because of my deep-rooted love and respect for Holyoke but because, as a downtown business owner, I recognize the need to capitalize on the excitement and attention being focused on Holyoke.
As your City Councilor, I see firsthand the issues facing residents every day and how the State impacts them.
Most importantly, as an engaged citizen I know there is great momentum, energy and spirit here in Holyoke, and I’m ready to bring that energy to Beacon Hill.
We are living in a time of great opportunity. Having worked tirelessly for the past three years with a wide range of community leaders, public officials and other residents, I have a unique understanding of the challenges and potential facing my hometown today and what it will take at the State level to keep moving Holyoke forward.
As part of the Morgan School Turnaround Team I worked directly with school officials, educational experts and parents as we submitted a plan to the state that was approved and today Morgan in on an upswing, a full service community school that address the whole child.
While this improved the lives of the children at school, the neighborhood they live in, South Holyoke is plagued by blight, violence, and worse, apathy.
That is why this past year I joined the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative with a goal of creating a safe, healthy & economically viable neighborhood.
While this focus on South Holyoke is important, the truth is when Holyoke as a whole is lifted up, so will all its residents…
In order to play a part in lifting the city up, in 2008 I teamed up with a number of other Holyoke enthusiasts to form Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke, or CRUSH. We created an online social network and organized events like our parties with a purpose covering a variety of topics from local history to small business development.
It was working on the CRUSH Community Conversation that I began to think about running for City Council. A group of us wanted to create a peoples agenda, by the end of that process, after hearing the needs of so many members of the community I was inspired to run, and sure enough was elected as an at-large member.
As your city councilor I have worked to improve the lives of the people who live and work in Holyoke by focusing on three main points, Increasing Civic Engagement, ensuring economic success, and demanding Clean and Safe Streets.
By introducing a public comment period at the beginning of each regular council meeting the general public has a new tool to engage with their elected officials. Every resident has the opportunity to address the full council, at each meeting, on any topic they feel is important for the health of Holyoke.
To ensure the economic success of our city we have worked on a number of measures, most recently a 20 year TIF. This allows businesses, large and small, new and old the ability to expand while at the same time promoting job creation and reducing taxes through expanding our revenue base. As Chair of the Redevelopment Sub-Committee I was happy to work with my colleagues in getting this passed.
Most important to me is the quality of life in every neighborhood, to that end the council recently passed the Clean and Safe Streets Act a product of nearly 12 months of work with Department Heads, Community Leaders, Business Owners and citizens.. By simplifying language, strengthening laws, and streamlining enforcement, city officials now have the ability to address the overflowing dumpsters, gang graffiti, and trash strewn streets that have defined the perception of Holyoke for far too long.
My time on the Council has also demonstrated to me the importance of building consensus and the need for compromise in order to govern effectively. Many of the orders that I have filed had been attempted in the past by others, but failed.
The passage of these important laws was only possible by working with my 14 other councilors, looking past our personal ideological differences and focusing in on what will be best for the city.
While these victories will certainly improve the lives of Holyokers, there is still more to be done in order to keep Holyoke moving forward.
Holyoke needs to ensure the renaissance we are experiencing is more than a flash in the pan.
People and developers from all over this state and possibly this country have their eyes on us.
When elected I will work each day to make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity and guarantee that this positive momentum is sustainable. By introducing and advancing relevant legislation, and identifying ways to leverage state resources Holyoke will once again be a shining example to the rest of the Commonwealth.
The first step is to add new jobs. The best path out of the crushing poverty too many of our residents experience today is a decent living wage and adequate benefits.
This will not be accomplished by the panacea being promised up by casino developers, it will come from Smart development that uses new models for collaboration, where public and private partners create a localized economy that offers sustainable jobs and revenue.
We must use the resources already in Holyoke and the surrounding areas to create an economic driver that will spark the mixed income development needed.
Currently there are students from the area colleges studying in Holyoke everyday. Imagine what could happen if a dorm was opened in downtown, placing hundreds of college students with disposable income in our urban core. Restaurants, retail and other job creators would follow. It would also be a good re-use of vacant space that exists in our historic mill buildings.
An economic driver such as that, combined with a Residential Tax Abatement program, would encourage economic success in Holyoke
While those are big ideas, there are specific pieces of legislation that are equally important to Holyoke, The Expanded Bottle Bill being one.
By placing a 5 cent deposit on bottles used for water and juice, like we already do for soda and beer, it would take tons of trash of the streets.
Our own DPW has said that no other bill being discussed right now would have such an impact on saving taxpayer money and keeping our streets clean. In fact, over 70% of Massachusetts residents are in favor, but this bill has been held up for years due to the influence of corporate lobbyists.
During this time the streets of Holyoke have become littered with plastic and glass, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in additional costs.
We cannot allow this culture of corporate influence to continue, that is why I promise to never take one cent of money from corporate PAC’s or Lobbyists.
While this may not allow me to raise as much money, it is a commitment I hope that every candidate across the Commonwealth makes.
It also means that I am going to have to work even harder to get our message out.
I hope I count on your help
I have been honored and humbled by the outpouring of support from every corner of Holyoke.
I’m also encouraged…
Encouraged that hard work pays off and that the fine people of Holyoke are listening and do care about our city.
Encouraged that when people take pride and ownership of their community great things can happen.
Encouraged that the democratic process is alive and well here in Holyoke.
Still, there are people who say this campaign will divide the city, that there has been too much change and what we really need it to stay the course, that we should not take this bold step.
To them I say, let us be bold.
Let us work together as a voice of unity and of determination, just as our city’s founders did over 130 years ago when they harnessed the power of the mighty Connecticut River to build the paper city.
This campaign will not rely on the politics of fear and divisiveness; it will be about hard work, and a clear vision of what Holyoke can be.
A Holyoke where every school child has a path to success.
A City that guarantees an excellent quality of life, no matter where you come or how long you have been here.
A Holyoke that every resident is proud to call home.
You have entrusted me twice to be your representative on the city council and now I ask you to let me represent you in Boston.
As your State Representative I will bring experience, leadership and fresh ideas to the position, and will always continue to listen to all the residents of Holyoke.
I look forward to meeting and working with you this campaign season and I hope to gain your support in representing one Holyoke.
Not new Holyoke or old Holyoke, one Holyoke.
I ask you to tell your fiends, tell your Family, and tell your neighbors to Vote Vega to be your State Representative on September 6th.