WESTFIELD – For former Mayor Donald Humason Jr., this new year marks the first time he has no job in sight since he started working for Westfield District Court the day after obtaining his university degree.
“I’ve never been out of work,” he said during the final week of his two-year term as mayor of Westfield, which ended on Jan. 3 when Mayor Michael McCabe took over. make an oath.
Humason’s first job at age 13 and a half was picking tobacco for Clark Brothers Consolidated Tobacco. He was a slow picker, so he became a basket checker and then a basket loader as he grew older.
He also worked for Southwick Chimney Sweeps for two years.
“It was neat work,” he said, though he recalled dreaming of sliding down the pitch and sinking into the roof. “It’s funny what you remember. “
Humason worked throughout high school and Westfield State College, where he studied criminal justice and psychology. During his studies he also worked for Westfield Area Mental Health as a crisis counselor. He graduated from college on a Friday and then started working at Westfield District Court on a Monday, a job he saw posted while in court to answer for a traffic ticket.
Prior to being elected to the Legislative Assembly, Humason served as legislative assistant to Michael Knapik and administrator-advisor to the Secretary of State for Health and Director of Legislative Affairs from 1998 to 2002.
“I had the chance to work with some really great people. I wanted to work in criminal justice – I didn’t intend to be in politics, ”he said, although the connections he established led him to an elected post.
Humason said that when Cele Hahn announced that she would not be standing for re-election in 2002, he put his hat on for Westfield State Representative, winning that election and keeping that post until 2013. When Knapik left for a post at Westfield State that year, Humason won a special election for the Senate seat, which he held until 2019. In total, Humason won 10 elections for state legislative seats before moving to become mayor on the first Monday of January 2020.
He stepped down from his Senate seat mid-term, with no break between his job at Beacon Hill and his new job at City Hall. Losing his reelection bid in November 2021 was his first electoral defeat after nearly 20 years of consecutive victories.
Now he’s not sure what’s next, but at 54 he said he was wide open for the first time since picking tobacco. Most of his career has been spent in the public service, in the public sector. Now he wants to use his experience and is open to city or state administration, advocacy, legislation, lobbying or advice.
“I really enjoyed being a director, which I have been doing for the past two years, making decisions with the town hall team,” he said. “I have spent many years watching the governor and the senators. Then I became a Senator and Deputy Minority Leader myself, and started working with people on both sides of the aisle.
Humason said the legislative experience has been helpful, as mayor, working with city council. He said working with department heads was the biggest part of the job as mayor.
“Then the pandemic happened. I was sworn in the first week of January 2020, then came the March closure; not just locally, but impacting the entire country, state and region. He said that even in responding to this challenge, the mayor still needs to make sure the government is working and the streets are cobbled.
Humason said economic development has not stopped during the pandemic either, although it has slowed in the first year. After the state government lifted the state of emergency and Westfield followed suit, the town’s mayor and his director of economic development began to receive calls from companies that were previously interested in coming. in the city.
“Peter Miller got calls and I got calls,” he said.
Work on the new primary school also continued. City council is expected to approve a $ 61 million bond, of which $ 31 million will be repaid by the state, at its next meeting on Jan.6. Once the bond is approved, the bidding process will be initiated and the two adjoining houses the city purchased on Franklin Street will be demolished.
Humason said he, purchasing director Tammy Tefft and school superintendent Stefan Czaporowski negotiated the purchase of the homes during the pandemic, transactions he said were friendly and not hostile.
“This administration was scandal-free,” Humason said. “I made sure that we behaved correctly. I’m proud of it. He is also proud to have granted taxpayers a full two-year term, following the departure of the previous three mayors before the end of their terms.
When asked if he was interested in working in state government again, Humason said Boston was not his first preference, although “it all depends on the job.”
Regarding the elected post, although in previous comments he said he was done, this time he said: “I will always keep the door open.”
“For me, it’s disappointing to accumulate all this experience, some of which were quite hard-won. Now I have no place or outlet to take advantage of this experience. Humason has said for years that as a member of the legislative minority his job is to represent his party and bring the minority party perspective to a strong “monolithic” party.
“The good thing about being mayor is that I didn’t have to continue the political position. I have become less partisan over the years, ”he said, adding that he liked to say“ there is no Republican or Democrat pothole ”.
“A lot of people think of the mayor as the most powerful office in town. This is not true, by design. I think it will be a surprise for the new mayor – it was for me, ”said Humason. “The legislature has the authority, then the executive, then the judiciary.”
When asked if it was a bit of a relief to be out of public view, Humason replied, “Absolutely. It’s funny. I was in a lot of conflict after losing the race, ”he said. “There is as much relief as there is disappointment. “
Humason said he looks forward to spending the Saturday afternoon with his son Quinn, who is now in fifth grade, rather than having to represent the city at a public event.
“Whatever job I take, I can take one that allows me to spend time with my son and my wife,” he said.
Humason said being fiscally conservative, he and his wife Janice, who works for Friends of the Homeless in Springfield, have always lived within their means and paid off all their debts.
“Janice and I worked really hard to get this position,” he said.
But Humason said he definitely plans to keep working.
“I don’t have to go to work, but if I stay home Janice has four pages of stuff for me to do which is more difficult than going to work,” he said in jokingly, adding, “My family has been great. They are sad that we have lost, but relieved that now we have time to do the things we want to do.
Becoming a philosopher, Humason said there are sacrifices in public service.
“No personal enrichment – I didn’t get rich doing the job. You are supposed to do the job for the good of the people you represent. This is what you are supposed to do, ”he said.
“I feel very rich because of the people I have met, the experiences I have had and the people I have been able to help. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s wealth that money can’t buy, ”Humason said.