Szych challenges Olver for Congress
|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Air Force veteran William "Billy" Szych said his theme for his campaign against Congressman John Olver is that people are not Democrats, not Republicans, but Americans.
And he told Reminder Publications he has been "very encouraged by the reaction [to his candidacy] I've received."
A native of Hatfield, Szych is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He served on active duty in the Air Force from 1975 to 1995 and retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He and his family moved back to his hometown of Hatfield where he was hired as that community's first town administrator.
With the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, Szych volunteered to return to the Air Force and was assigned to a position in the Pentagon in 2002. He subsequently volunteered in 2004 for duty at the United States Central Command, which led to an assignment in Baghdad.
After a final assignment at Hanscom Air Force Base, Szych reverted to retirement status last September.
Szych said many of his positions could be considered conservative, and that he had considered running as a Republican. By the time he made the decision to run the deadline had passed to campaign under the Republican banner.
Party ideology seems less important to Szych than specific issues. Szych said his number one priority is to "bring business back."
He said there needs to be better collaborations between entities such as area chambers of commerce and regional economic development authorities. If elected, he would sponsor an annual conference that would address how to bring new jobs to the First Congressional District.
Szych is concerned that Massachusetts is ranked as third nationally in federal tax dollars paid per capita and yet is 44th in receiving federal funding.
He believes the congressional delegation is "not just working hard enough" to bring funding back to the Commonwealth.
Among his other positions, taken from his web site, are the following:
Take care of veterans past, present, and future. Remember the fallen, their widows and children.
Protect and nurture our children and grandchildren.
Honor, respect, and help our elderly, to include protection of their social security checks.
Bring new jobs, tourism, and affordable housing to the 1st Congressional District.
Support our troops each and every day.
Support alternative sources of energy and new technologies to drastically reduce pollution.
Support strong national defense and homeland security programs.
Support teachers and public education
Support our police and capital punishment for murderers of police.
Fight against stereotyping of ethnic groups, races, and citizens of other countries.
Support the rights of the unborn (Pro-Life) and encourage abstinence in our youth.
Stop illegal immigration no automatic pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Support the Flag Amendment to the Constitution and efforts to fight anti-Americanism.
Support American marriage the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.
Support workers' rights and oppose corporate greed and outrageous executive compensation.
Honor and respect the heartland of America the working and middle classes.
Protect the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms and to defend themselves.
Clean up Congress end "pork," reform campaign financing, and support federal term limits.
His reason for running is Olver's record. There's nothing personal in the contest "I think he's a good man," Szych said but Szych disagrees with Olver's "very liberal voting record."
"I strongly believe his votes don't represent the First District," he said.
Szych doesn't approve of Olver's acceptance of political action committee money and said the way campaigns are financed in this country "stinks."
His is a grassroots effort and he said he doesn't need a lot of money for that kind of a campaign.
If elected as a member of Congress, Szych would undoubtedly be voting on issues on the war in Iraq a war he has seen first-hand. He said his experience was "very valuable" and he praised the men and women serving there.
"The quality of the young people waters your eyes," he said.
Szych believes his experience gives him an advantage on voting on the war as he has been in the planning sessions with the general staff.
He said the war has not been totally successful and the administration underestimated the strength of the insurgency.
He said the average American doesn't get to see the Iraq he's seen.
"The image the average American has is a bombed out car. They don't see the traffic jams, the teeming markets," he said.
Szych said that Olver has not gone to Iraq and has not visited any troops, unlike other members of Congress.
Szych said that running for Congress "has been one of the greatest honors of my life."