SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The community had a chance to meet with local and state politicians Wednesday night, during the Hampden County Sheriff Department’s annual cookout.

The Hampden County Sheriff’s annual summer cookout, a time to build bridges with state legislatures on Beacon Hill, in continued efforts to keep western Massachusetts on the map, when its comes to improvements and funding for the area.

“I think we always feel like the forgotten ones in terms of Boston and the state house,” said Retired Sheriff Michael Ashe.

State Representative, Budd Williams adding, “The city of Boston has more representatives than we do in all of western Massachusetts, so we have to work together, because we get more accomplished when we work as a unit. We can’t have the divisiveness.”

Many legislatures answering the call and gathering at the event in Springfield, to hear what the community has to say. Speaking with state and local leaders here, they say that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed across the state and right here in western Massachusetts, from the housing crisis, mental health, and public safety.

State Senator Velis says he’s ramping up efforts to expand mental health services in western Massachusetts, “Car fatalities and gun fatalities, together, there are more fatal drug overdoses than those combined. That is a problem and we need to do something about it. We got a treatment system that is flawed.”

Also in attendance, State Representative Angelo Puppolo, who told 22News, “I have a big bail reform bill, that we file every year and the mayor has been a big supporter of that, its a step of keeping habitual criminals behind bars.”

Even local mayors, such as Easthampton Mayor, Nicole Lachapelle, weighing in on what they need from the state house legislators, “They’re very focused on the youth, and opening paths for them to go forward and that is something western Mass has always gotten at the end of the trail, and I would just ask them to continue their efforts and keep it going.”

Election day for municipalities across the commonwealth is November 7.

Local News

Kristina D’Amours is a reporter who is a part of the evening 22News team. Follow Kristina on X @KristinaD_WWLP and view her bio to see more of her work.