Education Funding, Clean Water Among Issues In Westfield Mayoral Contest
Massachusetts State Senator Don Humason and Westfield Police Captain Michael McCabe are both hoping to replace Mayor Brian Sullivan after he announced last January he would not seek a third term.
McCabe has been with the Westfield police for 34 years. He also teaches criminal justice at Westfield State University.
"I know budgeting. I know labor," McCabe said in a recent debate at WGBY. "As captain, I have some pretty significant leadership experience in the executive arena."
Don Humason is a Republican who represented Westfield in the Massachusetts House for 10 years before moving to the Senate six years ago.
"I think what I bring is experience in the legislature working over the course of many, many years with every kind of conceivable issue from education to transportation," Humason said during the debate. "I think I work well with others."
The two candidates agreed on plenty.
Both praised the Westfield schools.
But McCabe said inadequate state funding has had an impact.
"When we don't properly get the money we're supposed to get from the state, it means that none of the stuff that can wait ever gets done," McCabe said.
Neither would commit to increasing local education spending.
But Humason said a bill recently passed by the state House and Senate would make a difference.
"We're going to benefit from charter school reimbursement money that we need," Humason said. "There's English language money that we need for the city. There's special education transportation that we lose on. So we're going to get that revenue and that will help, I think, bring the numbers up."
The candidates also discussed an issue of serious concern to Westfield residents: safe drinking water.
In recent years, some city wells exceeded EPA limits for chemical compounds called PFOS and PFOA. The city of Westfield says the source is firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base.
Humason and McCabe agreed the city is doing the right thing by installing new filtration systems.
Humason said if there are problems with water quality in the future, he'd consider buying water from another city or town.
McCabe cautioned against it.
"Should something catastrophic befall on that other community, I can guarantee you where they're going to look to raise their income level, and it would be the other community that doesn't adversely effect their own constituents," McCabe said.
In the preliminary election in September, Humason beat McCabe by less than three points.
According to state filings, both candidates are running well-funded campaigns. They've each raised more than $30,000 this year.