Endorsements on Parade: A Springfield Council Selection for 2015…
While the mayor’s race may be somewhat anticlimactic, the City Council races are not. Moreover, the City Council is an integral body in Springfield government. True, its power and its potential are weighted down by misperceptions of its power, even among its own members. However, that does not mean its membership does not matter nor does it mean that we should not strive for the very best from it.
Voters can select up to five councilors at-large on the ballot. One need not use all of their votes, however. Bullet voting, that is only voting for the candidate one particularly wants to win, may have the impact of increasing the chances of those preferred candidates.
A newcomer—or perhaps not—as Jesse Lederman has been an activist in Springfield since he was in his early teens. Now 20, he is seeking a seat on the City Council where he can apply his advocacy to a new arena. Few candidates for Council, whether incumbent or challenger, apply Lederman’s effort and enthusiasm. Door-knocking, aggressive social media and policy have been rolled into his campaign along with mailings and a ubiquity presence around the city. As an at-large candidate, he has committed to all of the city’s neighborhoods—not just the high-voting ones—and put forth serious proposals on ethics, collaborative approaches to public safety and a more active Council in civic affairs. Vote Jesse Lederman for at-large Springfield Councilor.
With a tenure and legacy as long as hers, Kateri Walsh could have rested on her laurels and (probably) gotten reelected anyway. In years past, she may well have done that, but in the last few cycles, that has not been the case. In addition to running the new ad hoc neighborhood business committee, she has taken a particular interest in new city cultural initiatives. But more than anything else, we have seen a self-awareness. Too many pols in this city either outright deny their records or offer not explanation. Walsh has done better than that. We recommend Kateri Walsh for reelection to Springfield Council at-large.
Though this term has been modest, Justin Hurst, who rocketed to first place in the 2013, still has potential. He is knocking on doors this cycle, to offer that personal touch. Hurst’s accomplishments this term include some projects of the ad hoc Young Professionals committee and proving and decisive vote in pawn shop reform. We want to see what else he can offer. Reelect Justin Hurst for Springfield Council at-large.
Since joining the Council, Thomas Ashe has chaired the Public Safety Committee, and while in theory some changeup might be nice, that committee is doing something right: legislating. It is not constant and it is partly driven by the public safety agencies themselves, but with Ashe as chair, that committee has produced new ordinances on pawn shops and taxis. It considered, if not approved, pedestrian safety rules and we understand rules to regular ridesharing services are in the pipeline. Good. Let’s keep it that way and reelect Thomas Ashe as a Springfield at-large councilor.
We make not additional recommendations beyond that and express no opinion beyond these four. We were going to make a negative endorsement, but that would put such people in the wretched company of our Holyoke negative endorsement. That would be unfair to anyone. Still, if any voter who reads this is considering Bud Williams, we would urge reflection. Ask yourself what, over his 20 years in office, has he accomplished? What promises of respect from state agencies, the mayor’s office, business interests, landlords poorly behaved cops or Beacon Hill have amounted to more than words? We leave the at-large races with that thought.
Ward Races (Wards 2 & 8 are uncontested and thus not listed)
Another cycle another abstention in this race. This year incumbent Zaida Luna faces perhaps her most compelling challenger. Adam Gomez has a commitment to community and an interest in reforming both neighborhood organizations and in City Hall. However, Luna remains an interesting figure in her own right, at least in terms of how she applies the job of city councilor, connecting her community to city services. That said, there is so much more about both candidates we would want to know and discover before we could choose either. We offer no endorsement.
Melvin Edwards is running for reelection, challenged, this year by Yolanda Cancel. Edwards would be the first say he is not the best councilor or human being on earth—humility is part of his virtues as an elected official. However, he has tried to bring his community a little closer to City Hall and vice-versa. His sense of fairness permeates the execution of his duties. Cancel by contrast seems to be a candidate in search of a cause. She talks about representing the whole ward—ostensibly Edwards does not in her estimate—but her confrontational approach suggest her focus, whatever that is, would in fact be very narrow. Keep what works. Vote Melvin Edwards in Ward 3.
In the heart of the city E. Henry Twiggs is an institution, still the challenge from Victoria Rowe at first promised a spirited race. Alas, that has not happened. We credit Rowe’s willingness to run—and perhaps we have not seen the last of her—but we have seen anything to suggest why she should replace Twiggs. He has served his community well and done right by issues of social justice and fostered the next generation in the process. We recommend E. Henry Twiggs for reelection in Ward 4.
The incumbent Clodo Concepcion faces a challenge from Marcus Williams. Nephew to the at-large councilor, Williams attracted attention to the fact that a polling place bears Conepcion’s name. It was subsequently covered up for the election. But beyond that, we’re not sure Williams is the prescription to replace Concepcion. Of course we have been, um, skeptical of Concepcion. But if he were to go, we would want to replace him with the right person. Is Williams that person? We cannot say and so we cannot endorse.
A real race on our hands in the ward center on Forest Park. Incumbent Ken Shea faces activist and social service worker Kim Rivera, mother of former councilor Amaad. Though each reach out across the ward, they personify different facets of the ward. More notably, each offers a different style. In a recent forum, we could see quite clearly that Shea appealed to the head, wielding a logical mind and the experience of Council processes. By comparison, Rivera tugged at the heart, with emotional stories of need combined with a determination to make it better. We could go on, but suffice it to say, we would be eminently pleased with either candidate. Shea, if reelected, would continue to provide effective representation and Rivera, if elected, would be a superb delegate for Ward 6. Regrettably, we can only choose one. In such an evenly matched contest, we must turn to other criteria. There is an utter lack of female voices in Springfield’s politics right now and that must change. In Rivera we have a qualified candidate. By a hair, we support Kim Rivera in Ward 6.
Finally we come to Ward 7, where incumbent Tim Allen is pitted against Lillian Gray. Without hesitation, we back Allen for reelection. Other races aside, our belief in Allen’s effectiveness as a councilor has never wavered. Gray, while earnest in her desire to help the community, has painted Allen as one of Springfield’s hacks, but that charge does not stand. Allen remains as committed to his ward as ever and provides one of the most diligent voices on the Council. We wholeheartedly support Tim Allen’s reelection as Ward 7 councilor.