Why I’m So Pleased to Serve on the City Council
Since I moved to Northampton in 1997 with my family (wife Mary Ann Kelly, daughter Kelly, son Adam), the people of Northampton have been incredibly welcoming to all of us. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to give back by getting involved in many community and local government issues, causes, campaigns, committees and organizations. Now I am enjoying contributing further to the life of Northampton as a member of the City Council, where I bring the voice of a pragmatic progressive.
Why I Want To Continue to Serve on the Northampton City Council
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first term as City Councilor from Ward 2. I am pleased with what I’ve been able to contribute in my first two years and, if reelected, I expect to have even more of an impact in the future. It’s a fascinating and surprisingly complicated job that I feel privileged to take on.
Here are areas where I’ve concentrated so far, and where I expect to deepen my involvement in the years ahead:
I have enjoyed being responsive to constituent requests/complaints/input in areas ranging from parking, paving, and traffic control, to neighborhood development issues and state legislative issues.
EDUCATING AND INVOLVING THE PUBLIC
I have appreciated having the chance to share information about the workings of city government and to encourage the involvement of our residents, especially younger folks, in City government’s committees, boards and commissions.
As Chair of the Council’s Public Works and Utilities Committee I have had an opportunity to address the City’s infrastructure issues big and small, including bringing attention to the need to repair methane gas leaks in our streets. In the months ahead I expect to be part of the effort to thoroughly explain and vigorously defend the City’s Stormwater Ordinance and fee.
DOWNTOWN AND BUSINESS ISSUES
As Vice-Chair of the Council’s Community Resources Committee I was pleased to author the Committee’s reports and Gazette guest columns reporting on the findings and recommendations from our study of the Downtown Economy. One outcome I pushed for is a Panhandling Advisory Group which now meets with the Mayor and his staff and a range of social service and housing organizations, to address the City’s panhandling issue and the related matter of services to our at risk populations. I was co-sponsor of a Resolution addressing the issue of wage theft while acknowledging the “high-road” approach and vital contributions of the majority of our City’s restaurant owners. I will continue to bring the voice of Northampton’s small business owners to the work of the City Council.
THE CITY’S FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
I have become quite knowledgeable about the City’s quite excellent financial management and have sought to involve more of the public in the budget process. We should all be proud of the City’s financial health despite continued inadequate state funding in many areas.
SUPPORTING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Our Northampton Public Schools are excellent and will remain so, in part because a statewide referendum that would have allowed the creation of new charter schools was defeated. I was pleased to author a Resolution calling for no expansion of charter schools until there is fundamental reform of the funding formula that is crippling to public school systems like Northampton’s.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
I was pleased to be a cosponsor of a Resolution calling on our State legislature to approve legislation that would place a tax on carbon pollution, which is considered to be one of the most effective policy interventions regarding greenhouse gases. Also, I will be a cosponsor of a resolution declaring Northampton a Blue Community, meaning we have declared we’ll never privatize our water system, we have done an excellent job protecting our watershed lands, we are committed to maintaining our excellent (and complicated) municipal water supply, and we will work toward banning bottled water in municipal buildings and at City-sponsored events.
SUPPORTING OUR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
Northampton is home to wonderful non-profit organizations that add immensely to our quality of life. I have had the opportunity to highlight the work of, and bring assistance to, such organizations as Cancer Connection, Historic Northampton, Northampton Neighbors (the aging-in-place non-profit now forming), Hampshire YMCA, and the National Priorities Project. I will continue to be a champion of our vital non-profit sector.
SPEAKING OUT ON STATE AND NATIONAL ISSUES
We find ourselves in a time where the role of local and state government has never been more important. We can no longer count on the federal government for support around issues of public education, social services, climate change and the environment, support for our cities, protecting our more vulnerable residents, etc. Increasingly, cities like Northampton must work with state government to take care of ourselves. At the same time, I believe we have an obligation as elected local officials to speak out on matters of national significance, and to join in solidarity with other communities around the country committed to progressive policies and local democracy.
With your support this is the work I’ll continue to do in the years ahead as your Ward 2 City Councilor.