Humason, McCabe square off again in Westfield mayoral race
The mayoral election in Westfield, Massachusetts, Tuesday features the same two candidates as the last one. Back in 2019, Don Humason edged out Michael McCabe by just 90 votes to take the open seat.
McCabe, then a police captain in the city, took a few days after the election to consider whether to ask for a recount. But instead, he conceded.
"You know, to be within 90 of Don Humason is pretty good," McCabe said at the time to Humason at a joint press conference. "You're a formidable opponent, and I wish you all the best."
Humason, then a state Senator, returned the kind words.
"I thought it was one of the best races Westfield has seen in a long time, as is evidenced by the outcome, how close it was," Humason said to McCabe. "And especially for a candidate who runs his first race, you did a great job."
Last week, the pair found themselves on the same stage again — this time at a mayoral debate at Westfield State University.
They didn't agree on everything, but the tone remained civil throughout the hour-long debate.
One question having to do with COVID-19 asked the candidates what additional steps they might take to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Humason, who spent better than a decade and a half as a state lawmaker, instead said what he wasn’t planning to do.
"I think the subtext of the question is: Would I mandate people get the vaccine, or would I mandate masks? And the answer to that is no," Humason said. "I very much rely on the support of the people who are the experts in our staff in Westfield."
McCabe, who has retired from the police, said the mayor hasn't done enough to encourage the shots.
"I would have been on social media saying to people day after day after day, 'Please get vaccinated,'" McCabe said. "I will never ask you to mandate it. But please get vaccinated, because you're protecting yourself and others, and that is my fervent belief."
Another topic at the debate was a proposed $2.7 billion data center, which is planned for Westfield. Published reports say the center would create 400 jobs, as well as 1,800 construction jobs.
McCabe said he's not against the project, but has a lot of questions about it.
"It would have been much better if this process were transparent," he said. It would have also been much better if we hired a consultant to handle the ins and outs of the process."
Humason said that negotiating process didn't have to be transparent, and reinforced the benefits of having the data center in Westfield.
"This would be the largest taxpayer in the city, bar none," Humason said. "The biggest taxpayer, overriding every other taxpayer. It would provide jobs and revenue that the taxpayers won't have to pay."
Both candidates agreed the city is on the right track in treating municipal water wells polluted with PFAS chemicals. And both said something needs to be done to alleviate traffic congestion near Westfield's Massachusetts Turnpike ramp.
In terms of fundraising, McCabe, the challenger, has outraised the incumbent mayor Humason.
McCabe took in $29,374 this year, through the end of September. That's more than $10,000 more than Humason raised.
But the mayor made up for it by starting the year with a campaign war chest of $9,848.
McCabe started 2021 with $10,204 in his account, but had outspent Humason by a wide margin: $14,050 to Humason's $5,298.
According to the latest state campaign finance data, McCabe had $25,635 on hand at the end of September to Humason’s $23,120.