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As a general rule, BusinessWest does not routinely endorse candidates for political office like daily newspapers do. We do so when we think a race is so consequential that our voice should be heard.


And that is the case in the upcoming race for Hampden County Sheriff. This is a vitally important contest for the Greater Springfield area, and for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that this election will decide a new sheriff for the first time in more than four decades. More importantly, though, it will decide who will be given the unenviable task of trying to fill the shoes of the office-holder since 1977 — Michael Ashe.


This past March, BusinessWest presented Sheriff Ashe with its coveted Difference Makers award (he’s the first politician to be so honored) for his work to revolutionize corrections and put the focus on rehabilitating prisoners, not simply warehousing them. These efforts have brightened the fortunes of those prisoners, the business community (many companies are currently employing such individuals), and area cities and towns alike by making their streets safer.


It is imperative that these programs are continued and that the tremendous sense of momentum in the Hampden County correctional system be maintained.

And for that reason, we strongly endorse Nick Cocchi, the deputy chief of security at the Hampden County’s Sheriff’s office and a 23-year veteran of that department in next month’s Democratic primary. He has helped Sheriff Ashe stay on the cutting edge of correctional rehabilitation, and he is by far the best candidate to continue this tradition.


… we strongly endorse Nick Cocchi, the deputy chief of security at the Hampden County’s Sheriff’s office and a 23-year veteran of that department in next month’s Democratic primary. He has helped Sheriff Ashe stay on the cutting edge of correctional rehabilitation, and he is by far the best candidate to continue this tradition.


We endorse Cocchi not only because of his managerial skill set but also because of his competition, especially his opponents in the Democratic primary, who are simply career politicians looking for more power, a fatter paycheck, and a much bigger pension.

This is especially true of former Springfield Mayor Michael J. Albano, currently on the Governor’s Council, an individual who certainly should not be trusted with running a correctional system with an $80 million budget, 1,000 employees, and up to 1,800 inmates.


The last time he was trusted with such responsibility, he sent the City of Springfield into receivership and a deep state of decline that required a decade to fix, not to mention many of his appointees and closest confidants going to prison in the process.


We find it ironic that Albano is demanding — and decrying a lack of — transparency, accountability, and honesty from that sheriff’s department as he campaigns. Sadly, those were qualities sorely absent from his mayoral administration, and the city paid an enormous price for his failed leadership.

The talents most required of the sheriff are those of hiring a competent team and then providing the leadership to manage it. Albano has shown that he is incapable of either.


Meanwhile, Springfield City Councilor Tom Ashe, no relation to the current sheriff, has shown that there’s seemingly no seat he won’t seek — whether he’s qualified for it or not, with the latter usually being the case, especially in this instance.


Ashe also needs to explain the child support and tax levies listed in his campaign account. If he can’t manage his own financial affairs, how can he be trusted to manage our correctional system? If accurate, these tax and child support levies disqualify Tom Ashe from being sheriff because there are or have been inmates serving time for doing exactly that — not paying child support.

As we said, Cocchi is the clear choice for Hampden County sheriff. We cannot leave the public’s safety to an unqualified career politician who will only have their own interests in mind. That’s why Sheriff Michael Ashe has endorsed Cocchi, and we wholeheartedly agree that he is the best person to serve as our next sheriff.



BUSINESS WEST ENDORSES COCCHI FOR SHERIFF