The following campaign announcement was submitted to Reminder Publications by Agawam City Council Vice President Cecilia Calabrese.
I was born in Iowa City, Iowa. My parents, Daniel J. Spinella and Josephine G. Spinella are both deceased. I have one brother, Daniel N. Spinella, he resides in Bether, Conn., he is a call-firefighter. I have one sister, Elizabeth Spinella-Jones, she lives in Granada Hills, Calif., she is a nurse administrator. Dan has three children, Liz has two children and three step-children.
I was raised in Danbury and Brookfield Center, Conn. As a young adult in Brookfield, I was very active in the Democratic party, being a member of the Democratic Town Committee and served on the Brookfield, Conn. Conservation Commission. I was an active campaign volunteer for numerous Connecticut governors, starting with Ella Grosso. I also worked on the first senatorial campaign of Joseph Lieberman.
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Biology (with an emphasis on Marine Biology) from the University of Bridgeport. I did one year's graduate work at U.B. in that field. During my senior year of my undergraduate studies, I studied and conducted scientific research projects at the Bermuda Biological Station, St. George's Bermuda.
While studying in Bermuda, I took part in three working Scuba dives, two to three days per week, studying the effects of pollution and environmental change on coral reefs. I was afforded the rare field-study opportunity to count species diversity and observe sea creature behavior in the reefs surrounding Bermuda to gain first-hand knowledge about the health and sustainability of these reefs. While in Bermuda, I also met and got to know my husband, Agawam native, Dr. Michael Calabrese. Michael was part of the graduate student team while he was working on his Masters in Health Sciences.
Michael and I married in September 1985. We have two children: Charles, an 8th grader at Agawam Junior High School; and Michaela, a 6th grader at St. Mary's Elementary School in Westfield. My in-laws are well known in Agawam, most of whom are, like my husband, lifelong residents of Agawam.
Following college, I worked as an assistant curator at the Smithsonian Institution Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. on a grant program.
Following the Smithsonian, but before entering law school, I worked for several years as general manager and corporate sales coordinator for the Bethel, Conn. office of Fugazy International Travel.
During law school, I attended a semester abroad to study International Law at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England.
After graduating from Law School in 1990, I went to work as an associate attorney at Bacon/Wilson, PC in Springfield in the Commercial Law Department. My area of emphasis was Bankruptcy Law, representing individuals and families, large and small businesses in Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In 1992 I left Bacon/Wilson and worked as an associate attorney general for L. Scott Harshbarger in his Springfieldfield office. I missed the pace the private practice of law, and so opened my own law practice, again, primarily focusing on debtor representation in bankruptcy.
Because of the health requirements of my ailing mother and other family members, I retired my law practice in 2003, but remain an active member of the Massachusetts Bar.
I attended STCC to receive my Dental Hygiene Associates of Sciences degree, graduating, with Honors in 2005.
In addition to my duties as Vice President of the Agawam City Council, I help my husband in his Dental Practice as a Registered Dental Hygienist and with marketing and advertising.
To sum-up the degrees I hold (in chronological order): B.A. in Biology from the University of Bridgeport 1981; one-year graduate work in Marine Biology from University of Bridgeport 1982; Juris Doctorate from Quinnipiac University School of Law 1990; Associate of Science Dental Hygiene from STCC 2005.
What will you bring to the table as a Mayor?
As a 19-year veteran attorney, I assisted in the successful financial re-organization of countless families and small businesses. I have a knowledge of financial stewardship from working in the trenches of the legal system that none of my opponents possess. Having been trained to think like an attorney, the citizens of Agawam will reap the benefit of having these critical thinking skills in the mayor's office.
Also, I have worked in family business, the heart-and-soul of small businesses here in Agawam. I know what it is to make payroll, pay the rent, the water and sewer bills and residential and business real estate taxes. So, I stand in the shoes of a vast number of agawam Citizens. I will bring that real-world experience to the office of mayor.
I have perspective from the past and a stake in our future. Having been raised outside of Massachusetts, I know what has worked and what has not worked very well, in other communities. For example, the town in which I was a young adult, Brookfield, Conn, suffered from the same cycles of ups and downs that Agawam has gone through and will continue to go through. Zoning policies that Brookfield enacted made the dream of home ownership all but impossible for many of those my generation, frequently finding priced-out of the residential real estate market. Therefore, remaining in ones childhood home became the impossible dream for many. I do not want to see those policies duplicated here in Agawam.
As we move forward with updating our Master Plan; with the prospect of Charter Review being on the horizon, I intended to maintain the goal of making Agawam the ideal community in which to raise our families for generations to come.
Will you introduce any new projects for the city as Mayor and if yes, what will they be?
New projects keep a community fresh, vibrant and modern, therefore, as mayor; I anticipate the following projects for the town of Agawam:
1. All roads and sidewalks along which students walk to and from schools will be evaluated for safety and integrity of long term condition. Sidewalks along these routes will be installed or placed as needed so that our students may have safe passage.
2. The Tuckahoe Turf farm property is a wonderful natural resource that should be made to be more inviting to all citizens of Agawam. I would look in to environmentally neutral methods of making that area more accessible so that everyone can safely view nature and wildlife in their natural setting.
3. The handicapped accessibility of Town Hall has been a longstanding issue for many physically challenged citizens needing to conduct business with the town. Therefore, I believe it is time to have open and frank dialogue regarding the pros and cons of renovating the existing Town Hall to make it handicapped accessible to all citizens versus building a new structure.
4. I will work closely with our Department of Public Works to begin researching the benefits and feasibility of making the transition to bio-diesel for town vehicles. Increasing the use of renewable sources of energy is not just sound environmental policy, it is also good business. Therefore, as the time comes for improvements or upgrades to town structures, I would look for ways that promote sound environmental stewardship, including the use of solar, wind and water power generation.
5. Having experience in sales and marketing, I have the skills to go beyond the Pioneer Valley to draw new businesses into Agawam. By highlighting our low business tax rate, our enviable location at the confluence of two major highways and the accessibility to an international airport just 20 minutes away, I would encourage businesses from outside of Western Massachusetts to relocate to Agawam. Our Industrial Park is the envy of the Greater Springfield area. By working with business and industry leaders, I would help encourage bringing other businesses, like those in the high-tech industry, to Agawam.
6. With regard to economic development, I will take the lead in looking for new and innovative ways to revitalize the blighted areas of town. For example: the Agawam Pavilion may be a good location to replicate the program conducted in Pittsfield. In Pittsfield, empty store fronts were leased out to artists looking for space in which to work and display their art works. Low or no-rent leases would be in place, with the artist paying for utilities and insurance for that store front, with the understanding that once a viable tenant appeared, the artist would move on. The idea is to beautify the area, increase foot traffic and make it attractive to retailers, coffee shops, boutiques, etc.
7. Work with local growers to establish a year-round farmers market. This is long-over due and gives our agricultural community a centralized outlet in which to market their wares.
8. I will actively look for ways to establish community gardening.
Are there any current projects happening in the city that you feel have gone well, such as the new senior center?
1. Our new Senior Center is a state-of-the-art facility. The Building Committee dispensed their duties admirably and should be delighted to have had their imprint on that project. Further, the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center have tirelessly raised funds for the beautiful furnishings. I support their efforts and applaud their dedication.
2. I look forward to breaking ground on the sewer expansion project in Feeding Hills. That is most certainly a project whose time is long over-due.
3. The Rosie Robotics Program within our schools is something about which I am extremely proud. Working with the Program mentors, teachers and parents, I would request an evaluation of the adequacy of the facilities they have in which to work and would be receptive to recommended upgrades if needed. Robotic engineering is the future in a vast array of fields, from robotic surgery to missions under sea and in space. Agawam is a reservoir of young, talented individuals in this field. This is a program that deserves support well into the future.
Is there anything about the current way the town is run that you will change as Mayor?
As Mayor, I will introduce televised quarterly reports from the Mayor in addition to the annual State of the City report given by the current and past mayors. Many changes and events occur over the course of a year. Since the Mayor works for the citizens of Agawam, I believe it is the mayor's duty to be accountable to the citizens more frequently than just once a year.
I will require all departments, starting with the Office of Mayor, to do more, with less. A new mayor takes office in the middle of another mayor's fiscal year, which will mean that I will be inheriting a budget that I, as a sitting councilor now, will only be able to cut, approve or disapprove, as the case may be. Regular public hearings during the formulation process will ensure that the citizens of Agawam, and the full City Council which votes on the proposed budget, will have full disclosure of each budget item discussed.
Under the current budget process, the City Council has very little input, in a meaningful way, on items contained in the budget which the Council is called up to approve or disapprove. My administration will provide the City Council with more detailed information regarding each budget proposed.
Why are you running for Mayor?
Being mayor of Agawam will enable me to make the highest and best use of my professional education and experience for the benefit of my town. This is the town in which my husband and our children were raised. This is the town I hope to keep as a place we can be proud in which to raise children for future generations.
As a predominantly bedroom community for surrounding cities, I see Agawam maintaining the family-friendly environment that we have always enjoyed. Our roots being founded in agriculture, we need to maintain and nurture the farms that remain.
As mayor I will be in the leadership position necessary to set in motion the policies which I have stated above.
How will your experience on the City Council help you as Mayor?
After my first term on the City Council as Chair of the Finance Committee I knew that I wanted to become mayor. As a three-term City Councilor I have obtained a deep understanding of the legislative process on the local level. My legal training gave me private sector insight and understanding of legislative history and the impact public policy has on the individual. My time on the City Council has given me the working knowledge to use my skills at the next level: mayor.
Serving as Vice President of the City Council I have hands-on leadership experience and have honed my skills as a moderator and meeting facilitator.
I have been able to identify the talented employees in town government that make our community stable, safe and financially sound. Serving on City Council has enabled me to see the strengths and weaknesses of our local government from the "inside" and given me insight regarding how improvements are best navigated.
Now that I have had the chance to state my case regarding my run for mayor, I hope that the voters will have gotten to know me better. My vision for Agawam is to maintain what we do well, improve where improvements are required, and take new paths previously obscured.
Please support me in my run for mayor and I ask for your vote.
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