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Guest Editorial

Your vote can make a difference By G. Michael Dobbs Managing Editor, Reminder Publications The other day when I was driving down Dwight Street in Springfield, a woman old enough to know better started crossing the road against the on-coming traffic. Naturally most people stopped and she didn't bother to wave "thanks." My wife can't get a cup of coffee straight from the Big Donut Shop. No matter how specific she makes her request, the folks behind the counter just don't get it. I never know if the garbage guys are going to accept my offering of recyclable. Some times they take them and some times, they reject them. There appears to be no pattern. Complain. Moan. Gripe We all do it about things over which we have no control. My wife can't sic Lucky the Wonder Bichon on the donut morons it's illegal to have a dog shred someone's ankle. I can't pull a Kreskin and determine which kind of trash is going to be suitable for the garbage dudes. And even Kreskin can't predict which pedestrian is going to place his life in my hands. We can, however, have a positive effect on our lives on next Tuesday, though. In many communities, this year's elections give people real choices on real issues. And if you decide to complain, moan or gripe about an issue and you don't vote, well, you deserve your agony. Springfield, the unofficial capital of western Massachusetts, has the most important election it has had in years. With the Finance Control Board set to depart the city in 2007, the sitting mayor and City Council at that time will have the responsibility of keeping the progress going that the city has made so far. Springfield voters need to look beyond the rhetoric that has marked the mayoral campaign and examine for themselves if the city is in better financial shape after two years of leadership from Charles Ryan. School Committee member Thomas Ashe's campaign has not been served well by the appointment of his wife to a teaching position at Putnam Vocational High School over a much more qualified candidate. Whether or not Ashe had any influence he has said he didn't there is certainly the appearance of such. The City Council incumbents face an up-hill battle with many voters as they have been blamed for having rubber-stamped too many of the budgets of the Albano years and have been seen as preventing some of the reforms advocated by Ryan. In Chicopee, where politics is a blood sport, the mayor's race has attracted a lot of attention. In essence, the race has been about Richard Goyette's record in office versus Attorney Michael Bissonnette's past. Bissonnette hasn't tried to hide his problems from years ago and has concentrated on what he would do for the city if elected. Ultimately, what the Chicopee election should be about is whether Goyette has done what he has promised or whether it is better to take a chance on Bissonette. In Agawam, there is a token mayoral race and incumbent Mayor Richard Cohen will undoubtedly be re-elected. The ballot question that affects the proposed new shopping center in the town is the hot-button issue that should draw people to the polls. This is one of those moments an electorate faces in which every vote on both sides of the issue counts. I hope there is a large turnout so the Agawam can decisively move forward from the controversy facing this issue. In Holyoke, incumbent Mayor Michael Sullivan faces Alderman Mark Lubold in what many see as a referendum on the issue of privatizing the city's waste treatment facility. There hasn't been the kind of cutthroat campaigning that has characterized the Chicopee race, but clearly this election could be a single issue one for many voters. In these times where a person's patriotism is often questioned, there is no better way to show how you feel about this country than to exercise your right to vote.