In Agawam, Mayoral Hopefuls Talk Experience, Taxes

Nov 3, 2017

In the Agawam mayoral election on Tuesday, voters will choose between City Council president Jimmy Cichetti and former school superintendent Bill Sapelli.

The candidates are running to replace outgoing Mayor Richard Cohen, who is not seeking re-election after eight terms as mayor, but is on the ballot for a spot on the City Council.

Throughout a mayoral debate on WWLP TV, the two candidates spent a fair amount of time going after each other's records. Sapelli had this to say about Cichetti's work on the City Council:

“Your voting record clearly indicates your inability to bring important items to resolution in a timely manner," Sapelli said.

And Cichetti said this of Sapelli's results as superintendent:

“You claim strong leadership, yet our schools are losing ground,” he said.

A key issue among Agawam voters has been attracting more businesses to town. That came up during the debate when Sapelli fielded to a question about the city's business tax rate, which is almost double the residential rate.

“Businesses will come to a community because of the breaks they can get with taxes," Sapelli said. "And I think we have to take a close look at that, we have to work with the treasurer’s office, take a look at that rate, and see what we can do to ease that burden.”

Cichetti agreed with easing taxes on businesses, but said the focus should be on increasing Agawam city revenue.

“There must be a universal approach to developing more creative streams rather than just depending on taxes," he said. "Without a long-range plan for revenue management our ability to increase revenue by taxing everyone to death will fail.”

Cichetti enters the election with a clear disadvantage. Sapelli, who worked in Agawam's school district for more than four decades before retiring in 2012, has raised more than twice the campaign cash as his opponent. And he received double the number of votes during the preliminary election last month.