Did you remember to Vote?

I hope you went to the polls last Tuesday.

I don't say that selfishly. Yes, I'm running again, but I'm running unopposed this year. And I thank you for that, and for the opportunity to serve you for another two years.

Serve. An interesting word. Which I hadn't really thought about until after you elected me to the Legislature. After two years, I know what it means to serve.

And, I enjoy it. I enjoy it very much. And the best part of all is helping constituents solve their problems.

Right now, the Legislature is considered to be out of formal session. We still meet, twice a week, in the House. But we can't do anything controversial. And, anything that even one Representative objects to is considered controversial.

Our terms are two year terms, in House and Senate. Even years, election years, we meet in full formal sessions through July, and then in informal sessions through year's end. In odd years, in non-election years, formal sessions continue into November.

But we still work! Year around.

Last month, for example, I got 447 calls from constituents. Just in my Westfield office. My Boston office probably fielded as many. I hope I answered them all. My aides and I try to answer each and every call and letter. Within a week.

I think, when you're tired of dealing with bureaucracies, and government, that you deserve a prompt reply. Now, you may not always like my reply (don't kill the messenger) but you will get an answer as soon as possible.

But, if you don't hear back, call again! Some messages do get lost, and you'd be surprised how many people ask me to call, and then don't leave a phone number.

Lately, most requests have come from constituents who want information, and applications, about the new Veterans Cemeteries. Most comments have focused on education and the new gun laws.

Most complaints? Well, they're certainly varied. From people with septic tank problems to getting out of jail to attend a funeral, from bills unpaid by the state to the additional charter schools.

Most problems are intensely personal. And you are always assured of confidentiality when you talk to my office or me.

In addition to informal sessions and constituent calls and questions, and reading and answering our mail, we're also getting legislation ready for next year. Preparing to reintroduce bills that didn't get passed this year.

I'm also on the conference committee--three representatives and three senators--trying to work out House and Senate differences in the managed care legislation.

And, there are still events to attend, in Boston and the district. Meetings with the governor and constituents. Breakfasts with the Realtors, the PVTA, and the Labor Council. Voter registration at a nursing home.

The Chamber breakfast. A speech to doctors. Another to secretaries. An awards banquet with airport managers. The inauguration of a new president at Westfield State. Open houses at the Sportsmen's Club and the Samaritan Inn. Ribbon cuttings. Writing weekly columns.

And, some events just for fun. Octoberfest at the Turn Verein. The Sheriff's Picnic. The St. Patrick's Day Committee Party at Sons of Erin. The Big E is coming, with Westfield Day.

So, even though the Legislature is out of session, we're still working for you. Although, I'll admit, I've taken a few days off in the past two months.

And, we're all running for office. Every Senator, every Representative. Campaigning, raising money, putting up signs, buying advertising, and urging you to vote.

And, asking you for your vote. It counts!

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