Scouting out the new neighborhood

 

Greenfield Recorder 11/21/2011, Page A01

Redistricting brings Rep. McGovern to Greenfield

By DAVID RAINVILLE

Recorder Staff

GREENFIELD — The man who may be the northern Pioneer Valley’s next representative in the U.S. House of Representatives visited the area Saturday, meeting with local officials and potential constituents.

James “Jim” McGovern, D-Worcester, toured Amherst, Northampton and Greenfield Saturday, just days after the release of the map showing how the state’s 10 congressional districts would be split up and reconfigured into nine.

“If I’m lucky enough to be reelected (in 2012), I want to hit the ground running,” said McGovern, addressing area politicians and residents gathered at the Greenfield Grille.

The newly approved districts split the first Massachusetts district, held by retiring Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, and distributes it between the current second and third districts, held by Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and McGovern, respectively. The new districts will go into effect when winners of the 2012 congressional elections are sworn in.

In the meantime, McGovern intends to maintain a presence in the newly-drawn 2nd District.

“I don’t care how small or big an event or group is, I want to come out, and I want to listen,” he said, asking those in attendance to help him network with those in the community. He said he would do his best to attend meetings himself, or send members of his staff.

“I’m a very hands-on politician, I want to work with local and community leaders to make things happen,” he said. “I want to be able to point to things that we helped build.” He also said he would work closely on local issues with Olver, and try to learn as much as he can about the towns he may be serving.

Greenfield Mayor William Martin gave McGovern a USB thumb drive packed with Greenfield history, current happenings, and future plans, and the congressman jokingly thanked him for the homework. All kidding aside, McGovern said he plans to devote himself to learning about the newly-formed district between now and the 2012 elections.

“It’s kind of like going back to school,” he said.

Earlier Saturday, he did just that, making a stop at Greenfield Community College to meet GCC President Robert Pura, as well as state Rep. Paul Mark, Martin and other Greenfield Democrats. He toured the school, and said how important education is to him.

Education will be a big factor for the congressman if he is elected to serve the new district. His current district encompasses Worcester and its colleges. College towns Amherst and Northampton, previously in separate districts, will join it in 2013.

In addition to education, McGovern is an advocate for farming. A member of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, he believes his experience would be an asset to the farming economy in the new district.

Martin is confident that McGovern would serve Greenfield well.

“He’s going to be a perfect fit,” said the mayor. “He has similar interests, and his history of agricultural advocacy and focus on community are to our benefit. On a national level, his status in the House Rules Committee is an asset, and he is a strong voice for veterans. I think he really parallels our local interests.”

McGovern said he is dismayed that many Washington politicians believe the only way to balance the budget is to cut funding for human services.

“We borrow $10 million a month to fund the war in Afghanistan,” he said. “If we want to balance the budget, we either have to end the war, or pay for it (outright).”

Martin said that he thinks the inclusion of Amherst, Northampton, and Greenfield in a single district will give the area a stronger voice in Congress.

For McGovern’s biography, stance on issues, contact information and more, visit www.jimmcgovern.com.

David Rainville can be reached at:drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 279