Who is State Senate Candidate Melvin Edwards?

Four weeks before the Democratic State Primary, Springfield City Councilor and State Senate Candidate Melvin Edwards tore the tendons in both his knees during a charity basketball tournament. Edwards’ injury required reparative surgery followed by three weeks of hospitalization and in-patient physical rehabilitation. All the while, Edwards’ campaign for the State Senate carried on.

From a hospital bed, Edwards continued to rally support for his campaign to unseat incumbent State Senator James Welch. On the ground, an all-volunteer staff continued to market Edwards’ candidacy in Springfield, West Springfield and Chicopee vis-à-vis daily door knocking, phone banking and other grassroots activities.

On Saturday, September 1, Edwards was released from in-patient rehab. Twenty days after he was injured, Edwards is home and back on the campaign trail – albeit, in a wheelchair. It will be a month before Edwards will be able to walk again.

Edwards has a long history of tackling daunting tasks and getting the job done in the face of adversity. Edwards says it is this experience that qualifies him to represent the Hampden District in Boston.

Proof of Performance #1

Edwards is President of Keep Springfield Beautiful (KSB), a position for which he receives no financial compensation. KSB, the “go to guys to get clean and go green,” is Western Massachusetts’ premier non-profit organization promoting litter and graffiti prevention, recycling, conservation and beautification of communities.

Edwards is at the helm of KSB’s Annual Citywide Cleanup. It is a massive undertaking and its success is contingent entirely upon community support. Working with an all-volunteer staff, Edwards secures donations of goods and services, and recruits and organizes thousands of individuals and hundreds of groups to clean, green, and beautify all of Springfield’s 17 neighborhoods – removing graffiti, rehabilitating blighted parks and properties, planting trees, flowers and shrubs, and clearing trash from illegal dumpsites and city streets. In the last 7 years, at no cost to taxpayers, 8000 KSB volunteers have cleared well over a million pounds of trash and debris from the city.

Litter devalues surrounding property by 20%: the impact KSB has had on the community is staggering.

In the State Senate, Edwards says he will continue to foster and support programs that improve communities through innovative solutions and frugal spending of taxpayer dollars.

Proof of Performance #2

Edwards is President of Maple High Six Corners Neighborhood Council, a position for which he receives no financial compensation.

In June of 2011, the tornado that ripped through the City of Springfield tore a devastating path through Maple High Six Corners (MHSC), the oldest and one of the most depressed neighborhoods in Springfield. An abundance of historic, costly to restore, properties – many of which were uninsured or underinsured – were damage or destroyed in a community already handicapped with the lowest percentage of home ownership and one of the highest concentrations of poverty in Springfield.

Edwards initiated a grassroots campaign that leveraged MHSC’s greatest asset, the diversity of its residents, and put the responsibility of neighborhood restoration in the hands of the residents themselves. Edwards compelled community participation by promoting the truth: “The city couldn’t fix our problems before the storm. They won’t fix our problems now. It’s up to us.”

The end result was the development of a comprehensive Community Vision plan to rebuild and redesign Maple High Six Corners. The plan was created and continues to be executed by neighborhood residents. It has forced positive change continuously since its inception. It has forged friendships between neighbors and win-win partnerships with public, private, and non-profit groups. In the process, MHSC Neighborhood Council became the most active and proactive, efficient and effective, resident-run organization in Springfield. Edwards’ efforts galvanized residents into action, which in turn inspired a model and catalyst for the city as a whole.

Edwards notes the absence of Senator Jim Welch during the tornado recovery efforts of Maple High Six Corners.  Welch did not tour MHSC or attend any neighborhood meetings. Welch continues to be absent from Rebuild Springfield meetings regarding the restoration of sites like the Brookings School, with the exception of attending press events.

Proof of Performance #3

In 2008 Edwards was elected to the Springfield City Council, the inaugural office holder of the Ward 3 seat following the switch to ward representation in Springfield.  Ward 3 contains two of the city’s most debilitated neighborhoods, Maple High Six Corners and the South End. Edwards says he considers himself a Councilor for all of Springfield, addressing the concerns of both his Ward residents and the residents of the entire city. Edwards lists his personal cell phone number on the city website, and answers constituent calls himself. Edwards has passed historic legislation as a City Councilor.

Edwards was one of the earliest and strongest opponents of the proposed biomass incinerator in Springfield. Many Councilors took campaign donations from developers. Many Councilors refused to take a position on this controversial issue. Edwards met with both opponents and proponents of the incinerator and made an informed and unbiased determination that the incinerator posed serious health risks to residents, especially children and seniors. Through the leadership of Councilor Edwards, the incinerator was halted.

Edwards was a strong supporter of the Home Foreclosure Mediation Ordinance, a home rule piece of legislation passed by the Springfield City Council in 2011 which forced predatory banks to meet in mediation with homeowners they intended to foreclose upon and attempt to workout solutions for the families to keep their homes and make the necessary payments. The ordinance stated that should a compromise not be possible, that the bank post a 10,000-dollar bond to secure the property and maintain it. The Home Foreclosure Mediation Ordinance was praised nationwide as the strongest protection against predatory banks in the country.

Edwards has released statements detailing his interest in introducing legislation to place homeless families in real homes and give them the tools they need to be employable and self-sufficient, as opposed to the current system of housing these families in welfare motels, with no long term plan for self-sufficiency or for reducing homelessness.

Edwards’ received the endorsement of the Massachusetts Sierra Club who praised Edwards work against the biomass incinerator and for his plan to bring green jobs and a green economy to Western Massachusetts. Edwards credits his keen understanding of the green industry to volunteer work with Keep Springfield Beautiful, the “go to guys to get clean and go green.”

The District:

The Senate is comprised of 40 members, with each Senator elected to represent a district consisting of approximately 159,000 people. The Hampden State Senate district was altered in 2011 to include more precincts with large numbers of black and Latino residents; it is now a “minority-majority” district that is 41% white, 37% Hispanic and 18% African-American. It includes all of West Springfield; Wards 2, 3, 4 in Chicopee; Wards 1, 3 and majority of Wards 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, in Springfield.

Edwards’ camp contends that Springfield, the 3rd largest city in the state, does not have proper representation on Beacon Hill. As Springfield is the hub of the Pioneer Valley, this adversely affects all of Western Mass.

  • James Welch has never lived in Springfield. He was born, raised, and now lives in the affluent suburb of West Springfield, which is comprised of 28,000 people. The Hampden District State Senate Seat is comprised of 159,000 people, the majority of whom live in Springfield. Senator Welch did not maintain a District Office in Springfield – until after Edwards announced his campaign. Given the vast socio-economic disparity between Welch and his constituents, Edwards’ camp contends that Welch cannot adequately represent the Hampden District.

Melvin Edwards was born and raised in Springfield, the center of the Hampden District. He is a resident and homeowner in Maple High Six Corners, one of the City’s most depressed and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Edwards’ family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and constituents reflect the demographics of the newly altered Hampden “minority-majority” district.

  • The bulk of James Welch’s financial contributions and union endorsements come from Boston.

All of Melvin Edwards’ endorsements and the bulk of his financial supporters are local.

  • Historically, James Welch has not been a top performer in the public, private, or non-profit arena. A career politician, Welch’s has spent the majority of his adult life in an elected office he “inherited” from Stephen Buoniconti. Welch was a state rep for the 6th Hampden district – a position previously held by Buoniconti (when Welch was his aid). In 2010, Welch won the Senate seat – vacated by Buoniconti to run, unsuccessfully, for district attorney. In Boston, Welch votes with the Democratic Machine and has yet to introduce broad sweeping legislation that would promote economic prosperity in the Hampden district.

Melvin Edwards is a proven top performer in the public and non-profit sector. On the City Council, Edwards is a leader, having already passed historic legislation. Edwards is a Proven Public Servant with a long legacy of doing more with less. Edwards is an engaged and responsive two-term Springfield City Councilor; President of Keep Springfield Beautiful; President of Maple High Six Corners Neighborhood Council; board member of Springfield Partners for Community Action and board member of the Housing Allowance Project.

PRESS CONTACT:            

Jesse L. Lederman | Press Secretary | 413 351 6785 | jesse@votemelvin.com

Carol de Carlo | Marketing Director | 413.265.0891 | camelothot@comcast.com

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Melvin Edwards
Proven Public Servant