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Cronyism, nepotism reign for Democrats

September 24, 2015
Westfield Republican

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter to the editor by Barry Underwood a few weeks ago in which he questioned what is going on in the Democratic Party here in Westfield. Can he really be surprised?

If Mr. Underwood had read the paper that day, he would have seen the headline "Westfield Democrats make nominations." What he also would have seen was that the two Democrats nominated were both born and raised in Westfield. While born here, I was not raised in Westfield. I have lived and travelled to many other places and returned here 17 years ago. I am not a born-and-bred, multigenerational Westfield native. I have worked hard in every aspect of my life here to make Westfield a better community.

Although I was not here for the Democratic caucus (I was on a planned vacation), I was at the July 28 meeting at Eason Hall where I informed the chairman of the local Democratic Committee of my intention to run for town supervisor. I "certainly have the right to do so," he stated while also disparaging my endorsement by the Working Families Party backing his candidate for town clerk also received. He proceeded to inform those in attendance that "they" (we, the Democrats) were supporting Andrea Babcock for town clerk, James Spann for town justice and Dave Babcock for town highway superintendent. No vote. Just because he said so?

To me, the only truly disturbing part about the caucus was that NO ONE on the Democratic Committee ever bothered to contact me at any time over the past three-plus years that I have been in local government. I answered an 18 page questionnaire by the Working Families Party but received nothing from our local Democratic Party. No phone calls, no "Hey Deb, what is going on? - I have been hearing things?" from anyone when I was a trustee for the village or since then. I sat on the Democratic Committee for several years and contributed substantially in time and monies to the local democratic nominees. Instead of being embraced for my advocacy on behalf of my fellow citizens as an elected official, I felt I was shunned and ostracized by my Democratic colleagues on the village board. While more than 30 Democrats showed up at the caucus, no one else dared to throw their hat in the ring for any position.

The news article said, "Those in attendance felt that good government transcends party lines." I agree. However, show me where the "good government" part is. The party gladly accepted the $1,000 that my husband and I gave to the last town supervisor campaign in 2011 against the incumbent Republican. What has changed in this period of time that is now declared to be "good government" in Westfield?

So, in short, the "status quo has got to go" Democratic campaign was all for show. The one glaring thing that happened at the Democratic caucus is what I have believed and personally experienced in Westfield for years: nepotism and cronyism reign. Quite frankly, I would have expected nothing less from the leaders of our local Democratic Committee.

I have not yet lost faith that the local party (as a whole) is hopeful that there will be other candidates to challenge the recurring theme of "keeping things the way they have always been" here in Westfield. Hopefully, they won't stand by waiting for an invitation to participate in the democratic process any longer. Then and only then will we begin to see an open and inclusive electoral process in Westfield, rather than the closeted and questionable process that keeps happening election cycle after election cycle.

Now, let us get on with important things around here.

Debra Puckhaber

Candidate for Westfield Town Supervisor



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