Voters in two western Massachusetts cities ousted incumbent mayors yesterday. In Chicopee, four term mayor Michael Bissonnette lost to former mayor Richard Kos. Political consultant Tony Cignoli describes them as two very different personality types, Bissonnette more gregarious, Kos more laid back.
Cignoli says that perhaps “the hard working folks who are of polish and french ethnicity who are 2nd and 3rd generation were looking for something not as rockin’ and sockin’ and out there as the current mayor.”
Among Bissonnette’s accomplishments – cleaning up the site of the Uniroyal tire company, which was for years an empty Brownfield. Cignoli says Kos’ campaign had a focus on economic development and getting out of the shadow of Springfield.
Another incumbent went down in West Springfield. One term mayor Greg Neffinger lost to Ed Sullivan, a former city council president and business owner. Cignoli says for Neffinger, it was death by a thousand cuts.
“He did a lot of things that were very controversial,” Cignoli says. “He had a lot of firings, removed a lot of people from different departments within the city right away. He definitely had a very confrontational kind of attitude.”
Neffinger’s loss comes less than two months after voters in West Springfield roundly rejected a casino deal the mayor struck with hard rock.