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Matthews-Kane Launches Rep Bid Vowing to Bring Home the Policy…and the Bacon…

UPDATED 6/13/24 3:06PM: To include comment from Rep Pease received subsequent to posting.

Avengers, er, Team Matthews-Kane, Assemble! (WMP&I)WESTFIELD—While introducing Bridget Matthews-Kane Tuesday evening at the Shortstop Bar & Grill, former Springfield Mayor, one-time Governor’s Councilor and retired judge Mary Hurley touted the candidate’s biography. She explained how the three-term city councilor and State House hopeful has deep family roots here and across Hampden County.

Upon taking the mic to speak for herself at her kickoff, Matthews-Kane shifted to her granular work on the Council. Unopposed in her first bid to represent Ward 3, she hit the doors anyway. Residents told her how big an issue speeding had become. Once in City Hall, she described diving into state accident records and reaching out to victims to find solutions. That was the diligence she would bring to Beacon Hill.

“You want a state representative who listens to you. You want a state representative who communicates with you. Most importantly, you want a state representative who listens to what your concerns are and comes up with actual concrete policies to address them and gets them over the finish line,” Matthews-Kane said.

“Furthermore, you want a state rep who brings home money for Westfield and Southampton,” she continued, promising to be that representative.

Matthews-Kane, a Democrat, is running for the 4th Hampden House district which Republican Kelly Pease won in 2020. Pease reclaimed the district for Republicans after John Velis, also a Democrat, vacated it to take a State Senate seat.

4th Hampden

The 4th Hampden is Southampton and Westfield–with a bit of the Whip City nibbled out. (via

During that election in 2020, the district exclusively covered the whole of Westfield. Since redistricting, a few precincts in the city shifted into a neighboring district while Southampton joined the 4th Hampden.

Democratic presidential candidates have often won the city in recent decades, but the Whip City has leaned right in many other races. Solidly Democratic Southampton balances out the loss of some Democratic-leaning Westfield precincts that now reside in West Springfield State Rep Michael Finn’s district.

In short, the 4th Hampden is a true tossup.

It is no surprise then that Matthews-Kane, 55, has emphasized both her ties to Westfield and her track record on critical needs here. It mirrors, if not directly replicates, the path Velis took in his 2014 race when the district was just Westfield. Back then, he played up his roots and leveraged his background as a JAG officer to focus on veterans issues.

Hurley described Matthews-Kane’s connections to the constellation of the region’s Irish Catholic luminaries from the late Judge Daniel Keyes to Sister Jane Morrissey at the Sisters of St. Joseph. The former mayor and judge, who held the same position Keyes once had in Chicopee District Court, also underscored the neighborhood activism that led Matthews-Kane to run for City Council. Another highlight was Matthews-Kane’s pursuit of education—she holds a PhD in English—and work teaching.

Mary Hurley

Mary Hurley, a woman of many hats herself, trumpets Matthews-Kane’s quest for a State Rep hat. (WMP&I)

“As somebody who’s been in politics for a long time, we have to look for somebody with a lot of brains,” Hurley said. “She’s got character. She’s got intelligence. She’s got honestly, absolutely.”

On stage, Matthews-Kane said that residents’ concerns about speeding pushed her to research the state’s Complete Streets program. Over the objections of some, she led the charge to pass an ordinance to implement it. She dug into the 2016 municipal reform law that gave cities and towns more power over speed limits. On the Council, she pushed the city to reduce the speed limit in thickly settled areas.

She also pointed to historic preservation, ordinance enforcement and a memorial for Jose Torres. A police officer, Torres died while on duty when a truck hit him.

“My hallmark is I listen to my constituents and hear what their concerns are and come up with ways to address what they’re saying,” she said. “I want to go and do that for you at the State House.”

In an email sent after this article originally posted, Pease said he had spoken “thousands of people” before and since taking office. The condition of roads, education and how both affect property taxes were top concerns. Pease also wrote at length about working on PFAS contamination. He also contested the suggestion he was unresponsive to constituent concerns.

“As the State Representative, I have attended multiple events within both communities, along with welcoming new businesses and I am always being told that I seem to be everywhere,” Pease emailed.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the 4th Hampden District. I promise to continue to engage and work hard when representing them at the state house and throughout our community,” he continued.

In an interview, Matthews-Kane said her campaign had drawn a lot of excitement from across the district. She was still preparing a rollout of her platform and declined to share details. However, she has noticed residents’ concerns have shifted toward issues of affordability since her first Council run.

Bridget Matthews-Kane

Councilor Matthews-Kane, ready to jump into the deep end of the pool on state policy. (WMP&I)

Matthews-Kane returned to this subject, describing how she had seen Westfield evolve since she was growing up. She observed that 10,000 people have moved into the city since then. School figures show the number of children in poverty has gone up.

“It’s increased dramatically, which ties in with my issue about affordability,” she said. “So, I think people are struggling a little bit more, and we have to get creative about ways to address that.”

Based on recent elections, Southampton is likely eager to elect a Democrat—before redistricting, Northampton State Rep Lindsay Sabadosa represented the town. Local Democratic activists had been agitating for somebody to challenge Pease and welcomed the candidacy from the ward councilors from next door. Yet, there will still be work for Matthews-Kane to do.

It will not be entirely new territory, though. Matthews-Kane said she has spent time in Southampton throughout her life, as an aunt of hers lives there. The candidate has already begun touring municipal offices to hear about the town’s need.

“I already feel I know it fairly well, but there’s more to learn,” Matthews-Kane said of Southampton. “I can’t wait to meet more people.”