Debate: Candidates state issues
How to get the best results for the residents of the 4th Hampden District was a
matter of disagreement.
By TED LaBORDE, Union-News Staff writer 10/25/2002
WESTFIELD - The two candidates for state representative from the 4th Hampden
District in the Nov. 5 election squared off in their first formal debate last
night, agreeing on the major issues facing Westfield residents but differing on
the path of action.
The only strong commitment made by Democrat Barry D. "Bo" Sullivan and Republic
Donald F. Humason Jr. is to foster legislation, expected to be filed shortly by
state Rep. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield, protecting the rights of veterans and
their families to display the American Flag on veteran graves.
Humason and Sullivan, who want to succeed the retiring Rep. Cele Hahn,
R-Westfield, agreed the major issues facing Westfield are education, health
care, economic development and infrastructure.
The debate format had Humason and Sullivan responding to questions presented by
representatives of the local media, Westfield State College and Westfield High
School. The debate was televised live over the city's public access Channel 15
and college television studio manager Mark St. Jean said he plans to rebroadcast
the debate on Oct. 29 at noon and at 7:30 p.m.
Sullivan said he can be successful as Westfield's next representative because he
will be a member of the majority party. Humason said he can be successful
because of his legislative experience as a former legislative aide and former
director of legislative affairs for the state Executive Office of Health and
"Education, seniors and health care and our roads and bridges, are the issues,"
Sullivan said. "But, number one is education. If we educate our children
everything else will fall into place," Sullivan said.
Humason listed education, infrastructure, health and public safety as his major
issues but said "We must listen to the public to know what is important to you."
Both candidates said they support bilingual education and criticized Question 2,
which will require English immersion within one year, as going to far. They also
indicated support for the Community Preservation Act which Westfield voters will
act on during balloting Nov. 5.
"Question 2 is poorly written and we should have local control by our
superintendent of schools," said Sullivan.
Humason said he supports bilingual education and "we should get kids up to speed
as soon as possible."
They also agreed that negotiated contracts for state college faculty and staff
should be funded.
As for prescription medicine for seniors, Sullivan supports a bulk purchase by
the state and Humason sees the current situation as a federal issue. "There
needs to be negotiation with that industry," Humason said. Sullivan suggested
that doctors, when possible, prescribe generic medicine.
Sullivan called for construction of a Westfield State College dormitory downtown
which he said will improve off-campus interaction by students and the community
and help in future city development. Humason said the "state should help but not
be responsible for downtown development."
The debate was courteous and friendly until Sullivan said his first action in
the Legislature will be to "contact the people who make the decisions. Our
representative needs to be part of the decision process."
Humason shot back that the decision makers "revolve around (Speaker Thomas)
Finneran who ignores the public wishes."
Ted LaBorde can be reached at