|By G. Michael Dobbs
Former Mayor Richard Kos addressed about 500 people at his campaign kickoff.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – Former Mayor Richard Kos promised about 500 supporters at his campaign kickoff on July 23 that he would run a campaign that would focus on issues and remain civil.
Kos is seeking a political comeback by running against incumbent Mayor Michael Bissonnette.
He served six and half years as mayor and since leaving office he has served on the Regional Employment Board, the Board of the Trustees of Elms College and as chair of the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, besides pursuing his career in law.
Attending the event at the Castle of Knights were a number of city officials, some of whom have been involved in public clashes with Bissonnette. City Councilors John Vieau, Fred Krampits, Frank Laflamme, Jean Croteau and City Council President George Moreau. Treasurer Ernest Laflamme attended, as did his daughter Marie who is running to succeed her father in the position. City Clerk Keith Rattell and School Committee member Michael Pise also were there.
Kos personally greeted almost all his supporters who stood in a line to greet him.
Standing in front of a campaign sign emblazoned with his name and the words, “honesty” and “integrity”, Kos said, “Campaigns are public conversations about what a community’s future should be,” he said. “Let’s make this conversation an intelligent one, a civil one. I am committed to a positive campaign, not a negative one. Let’s make it about ideas. Let’s make it about more jobs, stronger schools and safer neighborhoods.”
Kos only referenced Bissonnette by speaking briefly about two issues and never mentioned the mayor by name. Kos said, “I believe that a mayor in Chicopee should stand before the voters for election every two years. Shorter terms keep politicians closer to the people who employ them: the voters.”
Bissonnette has long advocated extending the term of mayor to four years as Springfield has done. His last effort to do so, a petition drive to place a ballot question before the voters was marred by the discovery that numerous signatures had been forged. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office cleared Bissonnette of any wrongdoing and placed the blame on former state Rep. Francis Lapointe who had worked on Bissonnette’s staff earlier in Bissonnette’s tenure.
The other reference to Bissonnette made by Kos referred to Bissonnette’s interest in Chicopee competing as a site for a casino.
“I do not believe that a casino in Chicopee is an option to this challenge [of economic development]. Make no mistake, however, real opportunities do exist,” he said.
Kos said the turnout “shows how badly we all want to come together and build a better Chicopee.”
In building the economy in the city, Kos said he would focus on marketing the Chicopee River Business Park, the Airpark complex. He would identify Chicopee’s strengths and support innovation and entrepreneurship, fight for funding and seek “regional and statewide economic development partners.”
“I want to be very clear on this point: in addition to safety, schools, seniors, neighborhoods and our youth, jobs for Chicopee will one of the most important priorities of my administration,” he said.
Speaking after his address, Kos said that he would suspend his law practice with Egan, Flanagan and Cohen if he were elected.
When asked why he would seek a potential decrease in his salary from switching from his legal career to being mayor, Kos said, “I really care about the city and we can do better. That’s what I’m all about.”
His campaign’s first fundraising event will be a pancake breakfast at the Castle of Knights on Oct. 27.
He has started a Facebook page for his campaign at www.facebook.com/RichardJKos.
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