SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hampden County Sherriff Nick Cocchi hosted his annual summer cookout Wednesday afternoon at the Springfield Elks Lodge as he campaigns for re-election.

The gathering followed the annual golf tournament, with lunch and dinner served Wednesday. Between meals, there was live music, lawn games, and raffles. The continued tradition started years ago by Sheriff Mike Ash. Plenty of candidates running for state seats, including Governor, attended this year to connect with Western Massachusetts voters.

“Sometimes when you are an elected official and you hold office, sometimes people feel you can be unapproachable. That’s not the way it should be. We work for the people, period. We are allowed to do our jobs because they’ve given us their trust,” said Sheriff Cocchi.

The event is an important opportunity for law enforcement and state and federal lawmakers to come together and enjoy time with the public as well.

There are three major seats open this year, including Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. Candidates saying they want to tackle the major issues that matter most here in the western part of the state, like the Roderick Ireland Courthouse.

“I think we’ve got to make the investments there. I am open to a new court house. It is imperative that people are able to work in a safe and healthy environment, said Attorney General and Governor candidate Maura Healey.

As well as the construction of the East-West Rail. Senator Eric Lesser, and Lt. Governor candidate, told 22News, “This is the exact reason why we need a Western Mass Lt. Governor. Frankly, if I’m there I’m not going to let them quit on East-West Rail, we’ve been working on it for eight years.”

Addressing issues plaguing the whole state, like inflation and the housing crisis was also brought up by Andrea Campbell, candidate for Attorney General, “Make sure that families feel seen and heard, especially outside of the 495 and that we are delivering real results for people who need it the most.”

A reminder that the statewide primaries are September 6th and August 27 is the last day to register to vote. The statewide election will take place on November 8th.