HOLYOKE – Fifth Hampden State Representative Aaron Vega, in front of a crowd of supporters and media at Heritage State Park, announced his intention to run for re-election Thursday. Rep. Vega began his remarks with a nod to the sunny weather, a welcome break from weeks of frigid temperatures.
Incumbent Rep. Vega is so far the only candidate to have announced his intention to run. The primary election will be held on September 6, 2014, and the general election will be held on November 4, 2014.
Rep. Vega was elected in 2012 to serve as the State Representative for the Fifth Hampden district. He serves on the Joint Committees for Higher Education, and Economic Development. During his time in office Aaron has continued his focus on providing great constituent services. Recently he was appointed to a sub-committee to investigate student debt, and find solutions to make college more affordable.
Aaron has also made a major push at the Statehouse to focus on regional issues, especially in Gateway Cities. Recently he hosted 25 legislators and staff from the Gateway Cities Caucus on a district tour to look at how state programs are working, and where they could use improvement. Due to the success of this tour, they are now being planned across the state.
At today’s event, Rep. Vega thanked his family, including his wife Debra and newborn son Odin, who were also in attendance.
Below are Rep. Vega’s remarks at Thursday’s press conference:
Good morning and thank you to everyone here this morning. Thank you also to Mother Nature for not snowing us out again.
Two years ago, we stood here and declared our love for Holyoke and our belief that our city can do better. We stood here and agreed we believed in providing the best education to our children no matter where they are from or how long they have ben here. We stood here and agreed economic development and closing the skills gap were critical to Holyoke moving forward. We stood here, together, ready to make a change and work toward One Holyoke. We ran a strong, positive campaign and we won.
Today, we stand here with much progress made but still many challenges in front of us. Today, we stand here united under the idea that Holyoke can be an anchor for Western Massachusetts; that it can be not just a city with a great past, but one with a vibrant future. Today we stand here with as much, if not more, work in front of us. I know we can face it head on.
Many people ask me if I enjoy being a state representative, and I tell them I love it. That doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating at times, a lot of work most of the time, and that it feels like we’re not moving fast enough. It means I believe…
I believe that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is great because we are a leader in civil rights, education, and economic development. I believe that providing a strong safety net is critical to transitioning people out of poverty. I believe we need to take care of our veterans and our seniors, and that we need to provide opportunities for all people. I believe we need to invest in our children’s education from pre-K to college. I also believe that Holyoke has a great future and can be that city we all want it to be.
I’ve learned two important things both as your at-large city councilor and now as your state representative. First, getting things done is about relationships and advocacy. I have strengthened the local relationships with the community and business leaders while fostering new relationships locally and at the state level. I have been able to tell our story, the story of Holyoke on the rise, a story of potential and opportunity. Building relationships, collaborations and working together is what makes us strong. I want to continue building relationships and continue getting things done.
The second thing I have learned is that being your advocate, your voice in Boston while working with advocacy coalitions has been critical in maneuvering the legislative landscape. It was through advocacy and hard work that I was able to work with my colleagues and address college tuition rates at our state universities, that I was able to fight to make sure single moms getting an education still would get the benefits they need to support their families. It was through advocacy that we are addressing the skills gap here in Western Massachusetts and it is through advocacy that I learn about the issues important to all of you here today. Let me continue being your advocate—your voice in Boston.
From bringing 25 state senators and state representatives to Holyoke to tour our gateway city, to being on the education sub-committee addressing student debt, to bringing the panel on gun violence and gun rights to Holyoke, I have worked to bring Boston closer to Holyoke and Holyoke closer to Boston.
Alongside my Western Massachusetts delegation, we have worked to secure funding for passenger rail service along the knowledge corridor and we are working to make sure that infrastructure projects don’t fall behind the rest of the state. Let me continue to do the work on these issues.
Education, public safety and economic development are all important to us here in Holyoke. Let me continue being your advocate on these issues.
Let me continue to be a voice for civil rights, social justice and equal opportunity for all of our citizens.
I ask you today for your support and your belief, not in me, but in we—that we can build a better Holyoke, a stronger Commonwealth and continue the work that is in front of us.
Thank you to my wife Debra, my newborn son Odin, and to my daughters who make this all that much more important. Thank you to Team Vega for your continued efforts, and thank you to all of you here today for your continued support. There is much work to be done but I believe we are up to the challenge.