TO: Media List
FROM: The Committee to Elect Aaron Vega
DATE: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
RE: Fifth Hampden State Representative Aaron Vega announces reelection campaign at Heritage State Park
CONTACT: Kristen Beam, Deputy Campaign Manager, kristen@aaronvega.org

In front of a crowd of supporters at Holyoke’s Heritage State Park this morning, Fifth Hampden State Representative Aaron Vega announced his intention to run for reelection for a third team. Below are Rep. Vega’s prepared remarks for the event.

Good morning. First, let me thank all you for being here this morning and for your continued support over the years. Without you, I would not even be here standing in front of you. Many of you here today, both friends and family, have not only been my strongest supporters—you have also been my confidants. You’ve shared your expertise, your knowledge, and your experience. I always said we would be in this together and I am thankful you have joined me on this journey.

I need to take a moment and single out a few people who really keep Team Vega moving forward. First, Patricia Duffy, my legislative aide who does so much to keep me focused on the issues but also is the first line of communication with the constituents of Holyoke, and has the task of trying to keep my crazy schedule up to date. If it weren’t for her, I literally wouldn’t be here this morning.

Elvin Bruno Jr., my campaign manager, might be younger than my daughters, but has great ability and finesse with running campaigns. He is organized, passionate and a bit of a taskmaster. Finally, Kristen Beam is the person I consider the glue of Team Vega; we met while I was running for my second term as a city councilor. Her advice, insight, and understanding have made her one of my most trusted allies.

Fours years ago, we gathered here when I announced I would be running for state representative to be your voice in Boston. I would be the voice that would tell Holyoke’s story. Today we have more public investment than ever before along with private investment this city has not seen in decades. Holyoke is now a leader among Gateway Cities with our investments in the traditional and the creative economy. Holyoke is the example of best practices when it comes to workforce development, collaborations, and opportunities. Our story has gotten better and better over the past four years.

Two years ago, we gathered here and I asked for us to be One Holyoke, for you to continue supporting me as I worked to make sure all of our residents have access to opportunities and that we try to build bridges within our community instead of maintaining walls. I can tell you from the outreach and the constituent services we have engaged in over the past four years in nearly every neighborhood of the city that people are starting to feel a part of something. They are seeing changes in public safety, health care access and in education.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to host a group of young men at the State House from El Camino, a mentoring program that is part of the Holyoke boys and girls club. These young men represent some of the most at-risk youth in our city. Former gang members mentoring current members who are trying to get out and get their lives back on track. Hearing these stories and realizing how impactful programs like SSYI, the Hampden County reentry programs can be have strengthened my commitment to these programs. Having these young men who never imagined how politics could affect their lives thank me for the work on justice reform was powerful. 

I am asking for your support today, to not only allow me the honor of being your representative but to continue working with me because we still have work to do making sure that everyone in Holyoke has opportunity, and that everyone’s voice is heard. I am asking you today to stand with me, side by side, to keep the issues of criminal justice reform and health care access and cost at the forefront. To keep working with me to tackle the opioid crisis and the need for more investments in summer youth jobs and reentry programs. To keep the Commonwealth a leader in education and research and to make sure Western Massachusetts, and in particular, Holyoke, is part of that. We want to grow our entrepreneurs and our next generation of civic leaders right here in the 01040. We want to attract more people to live, work, and raise their families here. 

I want to take a moment to not only thank my wife Debra but really acknowledge that she is one of the reasons I do the work I do. She is also the mother of our son Odin who inspires me to do this work every day. 

My father Carlos came here from Ecuador. His parents knew no English and started a life here. He worked over a four-decade span for the causes of social justice and to inspire others to make Holyoke a better community. On my mother’s’ side I am a product of Irish and French Canadian immigrants who worked hard for a better life right here in South Holyoke.

That is the legacy of our son Odin. And so when I wake up in the morning and go to the district office, or Pat and I jump in the car and head on the MassPike to Boston for legislative session, it is to continue that legacy—to keep building a better community for all residents of Holyoke. I want Odin and every child here to have every opportunity and tool to succeed right here in Holyoke. 

How do we get there? We get there by continuing to be the bridge out of poverty for our most vulnerable residents. By connecting them to the services they need. We do that by working to make sure that Holyoke Medical Center continues to operate as a community hospital. We do that by supporting our public schools, by securing funds for workforce development, by providing extended learning time, and by expanding our dual-language programs. We get there by partnering with the Chamber of Commerce in their support of entrepreneurship, and by working with our Economic Development staff as they help grow Holyoke’s economy. 

I also want the entire Commonwealth to be a state that Odin and his young friends are proud to grow up in. That is why I support protecting transgender people from being discriminated in public places. It’s why I’ll fight to support eliminating student debt. It’s why the smart reform of our criminal justice laws is one of my top priorities. It’s why environmentalists who come to the State House know that I care about their priorities and will work to make them a reality.

Thank you for being here and supporting me over these years. Your support is what will keep me going. Please join with me to get out there knocking on doors, gathering signatures, and making phone calls, and consider making a donation to our campaign at aaronvega.org.