Press & Media
HOLYOKE — Aaron M. Vega rolled to victory in Tuesday’s election for state representative as the Democratic city councilor beat two other candidates for the vacant seat.
“I think the vision that I provided people, the belief that together we can be one Holyoke and move the city forward” resonated with voters, said Vega, councilor at large.
“You run the right campaign, through the whole city, that every ward matters – we’re seeing record turnout tonight,” Vega said.
Voting was steady at polls in the seven wards throughout the day, with a turnout of about 61 percent, officials said.
With 12 of 14 precincts’ totals in, according to unofficial numbers from the Vega campaign, Vega received 8,126 votes to 2,961 for Linda L. Vacon, a city councilor and the Republican nominee, and 2,741 for Jerome T. Hobert, the Green-Rainbow Party nominee.
Vega takes over the 5th Hampden District from Democrat Michael F. Kane, who held the seat since 2001 before taking a job with Columbia Gas of Massachusetts in June.
Vega, 42, is a city councilor at large in his second two-year term. He is a freelance video editor and co-owner of VegaYoga & Movement Arts here.
“I’m thrilled at the support,” Vega said.
Vega, at his victory party at Brennan’s Place bar on High Street, said he was still mentally processing the size of his victory, realizing so many people around the city backed him.
“It’s kind of surreal because when I was standing out today, people I didn’t know were coming up to me and saying they voted for me. You don’t know the effect you have (on people), because you’re just doing the work,” Vega said.
Vacon, 58, is the city councilor for Ward 5 in her second two-year term. She is health services director at Loomis House.
Vacon said in a voice mail message she had congratulated Vega and appreciated the devotion of her campaign volunteers.
“I knew it was a steep climb when I got into the race. I am very proud of my campaign and all of the hard, dedicated work of my volunteer team. They were outstanding,” Vacon said.
Hobert, 59, has never held elected office. He works in sales for Power Quality Solutions, of Glastonbury, Conn. His family has been part of the city since 1894, and the Hobert Funeral Home here is run by his brother’s family.
Hobert said he wishes Vega well.
“As I said in the campaign, I tip my hat to Aaron Vega and wish him nothing but the best. I think Linda Vacon and I split the rest of the vote, that’s how I’m seeing it so far. I was always taught to be a humble winner and a gracious loser,” Hobert said.
Kane’s influence remained despite his withdrawal from the race. His name remained on the ballot in the Sept. 6 primary election because he’d filed nomination papers to keep the seat before taking the private-sector job, and he drew 999 votes. He took a shot at Vega in June when he said he hoped a candidate “other than Vega” would emerge with views similar to his own. Kane hasn’t returned calls seeking comment.
AARON VEGA – What makes Aaron Vega the best candidate for the position of State Representative in the 5th Hampden District?
On November 6, Holyoke has the opportunity to elect their next state representative and I believe I am the best candidate for that position. As one of Holyoke’s at-large councilors for the past two terms, I have worked diligently on public safety issues, business development, public engagement and have been a strong voice of smart spending measures.
In addition to my work on city council, I was a member of the Morgan School turnaround team that designed a plan that was accepted by the state to improve the education of our children. Additionally, I was asked to join the Dean Technical High School Futures Team to be sure that school provides the opportunities needed for our youth.
I also sit on the Connections After School Program Advisory Board, ensuring quality after school programs for all of our children. For me, education is priority one. Making sure we receive the needed funds and support for our schools fromthe state will be one of my most important duties.
As chair of the redevelopment subcommittee, I have worked closely with city planners and leaders, engineers, the building department, and the public to make Holyoke a business-friendly city. It will be my job to market our city on the state level to attract large and small companies as well as make sure that entrepreneurs have the tools they need to open their companies here in Holyoke. As a small business owner myself, I understand the difficulties in running a business, but I also understand the great potential Holyoke has to attract companies and jobs.
As a member of the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative, I have had the privilege to work closely with local and state law enforcement agencies alongside local service providers. I have worked with our chief of police to bring back community policing in our neighborhoods and I have worked on clean and safe streets ordinances that improve the quality of life for all residents.
I believe I bring the energy, fresh ideas and willingness to work hard for all of Holyoke at the state level. For me, this election is not about old Holyoke or new Holyoke. It’snot about just Ward 1 or just Ward 7—it’s about One Holyoke. A Holyoke that is a great city to live, work, play and raise a family in.I ask for your vote on November 6, 2012, to be your next State Representative.
The Springfield Republican has endorsed Aaron Vega for the State Representative seat, ahead of Thursday’s primary election.
We also urge voters to pull the lever for Holyoke City Councilor Aaron Vega, who may face a write-in campaign for the 5th Hampden District seat. Vega is running unopposed after incumbent Democrat Michael F. Kane resigned in June to take a job with Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
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.
HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) -Holyoke officials have announced that they plan to implement a work-off abatement program for veterans in the city.
The VALOR act program will allow veterans to receive reductions to their property taxes by working in the community.
There are more than 1,500 veterans currently residing in the city, and this program hopes to help at least 20 a year.
“We’re sending a message to our locally based veterans that we care about them and we are here to assist them as they come back and become productive members of our community,” said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
The program is one of the first in the area and will help those who are eligible to substantially lower their property taxes.
“They’d be paid basically minimum wage in volunteer hours and that’s applied to their property bill,” said city councilor, Aaron Vega.
Read the rest of the story and check out video here.
The following letter to the editor appeared in the Republican newspaper on Friday, June 15, 2012.
Aaron Vega earns Holyoke’s trust
I became a supporter of Aaron Vega back when he was running for his first term as a city councilor. I knew of him as the guy with the yoga studio downtown but didn’t know him personally.
I was impressed by his way of responding to questions with thoughtfulness and knowledge of the background of issues. I decided to vote for him based on his strong performance at a campaign forum.
As a city councilor, Vega , to me, has been one of the few independent voices on the council, something we need in this city that sometimes seems like a lot of old battling new. Vega stays above all that.
It’s important that my future state representative share my values – marriage equality, women’s rights, etc., – but I think it’s just as important that he or she takes a measured approach to decision making. Any candidate can talk about bringing home the bacon, but what about carefully weighing issues in a way that is sustainable for the future? That’s the kind of city councilor Vega is and the kind of representative he will be.
– KRISTEN BEAM, Holyoke
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.
This story originally appeared on TheReminder.com
By G. Michael Dobbs
Feb. 22, 2012
HOLYOKE — City Councilor Aaron Vega said his run for the state representative seat currently occupied by Michael Kane isn’t about Kane’s record, but rather the future of Holyoke.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about Mike. It’s about where Holyoke is today,” Vega told Reminder Publications.
Vega officially announced his candidacy last week.
He said he is looking forward to a “healthy discussion” of issues with Kane during the campaign. Since both men are Democrats, the election will be decided in a primary conducted in September.
Vega, a Holyoke native who returned to the city to open a small business, Vega Yoga and Movement Arts, won a city council seat in 2009 and re-election last year.
During his announcement on Feb. 14, Vega said, “Holyoke is moving forward and we are living in a time of great opportunity. Having worked tirelessly for the past three years with a wide range of non-profits, business leaders, educators, planners, public safety officials and other individuals, 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.”
Noting the changes in the city politically and its development, he said, “I feel that right now the energy, momentum and spirit in Holyoke is really great.”
Vega said that if elected he would urge the state to look at successful programs at the municipal level on issues such as childhood obesity and better access to healthy food rather than seeking to establish and fund new program.
“We don’t need the state reinventing the wheel,” he said.
Vega noted that there are programs on the municipal level that are funded by state grants that disappear when the funding is gone. He would work to have a greater accountability to insure that successful programs are refunded.
There is a cycle, he noted, of organizations relying on continued allotment of Community Development Block Grants that he would like to challenge. Instead of “banking” on the funding, Vega would like to see more non-profit organizations build better relationships with private donors.
He believes there is a “disconnect” between the state and local cities and towns and he would work to “give municipalities more breathing room, especially around education.”
Like Mayor Alex Morse, Vega does not see a casino in the city as a viable part of its future economic development. A casino would go counter to the present efforts for the revitalization of neighborhoods and the high tech development of the city, he added.
“A casino would not help small business,” he said. “I applaud the mayor for sticking to his guns.
Kane told Reminder Publications that he will be formally announcing his re-election effort in the spring and right now he is focusing his efforts to finish the work the House is currently considering such as the next fiscal year budget and health care legislations.
For more information on Vega’s candidacy, go to http://vegaforholyoke.com.
By Mike Plaisance, The Republican The Republican
February 14, 2012
HOLYOKE – City Councilor Aaron M. Vega kicked off his campaign for state representative by touting his experience as an elected official, a businessman and board member versed in school and other issues.
“The campaign mantra for me is this: It’s not about old Holyoke and it’s not about new Holyoke, it’s about one Holyoke and I want to represent one Holyoke,” Vega, a Democrat, said Tuesday.
Vega, who is in his second term as a councilor at large, discussed his candidacy in a press conference at Holyoke Heritage State Park and later in a phone interview.
He was a member of the Morgan School turn-around team and sits on the City Council-School Committee subcommittee.
He is chairman of the council Redevelopment Committee and established a public comment period before City Council meetings.
He is a regular at meetings of the Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, he said, so that when issues like obesity among people and funding for such programs are discussed, he knows the specifics.
Eyeing the Legislature makes sense because the city has a new mayor, in Alex B. Morse, and new City Council president, in Kevin A. Jourdain, he said.
“It all has to do with the new energy and the new momentum that’s happening here in Holyoke,” said Vega, 41.
He and wife Debra Vega own Vega Yoga and Movement Arts, 4 Open Square Way.
Vega declined to say why he thought he would be a better lawmaker for Holyoke than Kane.
“At this point, I won’t try to go, ‘Me vs. him, him vs. me.’ I think what I try to bring to the table is … a perspective on what’s going on in Holyoke today,” Vega said.
Kane has held the 5th Hampden District seat since 2001. He said earlier this month he will announce his re-election bid in the spring.
The representative’s yearly salary is $61,133.
The primary election is Sept. 6, to narrow the field of candidates if there is more than one from a party, and the general election is Nov. 6.