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Briefings: Lamontagne’s Thin Blue Line out of City Hall…

Ward 1 Councilor Adam Lamontagne (via Facebook/non-campaign)

This weekend the race for the Ward 1 seat on the Chicopee City Council began. Joel McAuliffe, a former aide to Mayor Richard Kos and Senator Eric Lesser’s district director, announced his bid. Dino Brunetti, who held the spot until 2014, has taken out papers. But what of the incumbent, Adam Lamontagne?

There has been no formal statement, but the two term-councilor essentially plans to sit out reelection. Following ten years in elective city government—the first six on the School Committee—and many more on appointed boards, Lamontagne is slated to join Chicopee’s Finest.

“My intention is to focus on my career in law enforcement,” Lamontagne said in a phone interview last week.

Currently working with the West Springfield public schools, Lamontagne, 30, said he has wanted to be a cop since he was young. He recently completed the civil service requirements and physical evaluations and is waiting for the academy class to begin.

Per the Chicopee city charter, councilors cannot hold another city position. Most municipalities do not have this restriction, though state law does not allow local elected officials who work for the same community to collect both salaries.

Chicopee City Hall in 2009 (via wikipedia)

Chicopee sources have suggested Lamontagne will, at a minimum, serve until the academy begins. He has not pulled papers for reelection and Brunetti and McAuliffe are proceeding as though the seat will be open in November. Depending on when—and if—Lamontagne leaves the Council early, his colleagues  could pick a replacement to serve until the election.

While Lamontagne would not confirm his immediate plans, he did discuss his tenure on the Council and School Committee.

Lamontagne said officials’ focus should be, “How can we collectively make Chicopee a better place for all?” He added, “Kos has done that.”

Chicopee’s ward 1 precincts are in red and maroon (via MA Sec. of State)

This bonhomie could be political. Anecdotally there have been “communication” problems between Lamontagne and his colleagues on the Council and School Committee. For his part, Lamontagne said disagreements were often over resources for Ward 1.

He came to the council by unseating Brunetti just as Kos supplanted Michael Bissonnette, an ally of Lamontagne’s. Consequently, Lamontagne never fully benefited from the era of good feelings between mayor and Council that Kos’s election ushered in.

Still, observers have highlighted the grueling constituent services regiment Lamontagne maintains. Slapping a sign on his car, he runs a “pothole patrol” every spring. Others, even detractors, have noted his responsiveness to resident’s needs and concerns.

Speaking to his accomplishments, Lamontagne noted his time in government stretches to his teenage years. He served on bodies like the Mobile Home Rent Control Board and Conservation Commission.

While on the School Committee, the city got Race to the Top funds from the federal government. “I’m glad we were able to come up with a comprehensive plan,” he said, noting that the drop-out rate fell among other improvements.

Lamontagne tried to attend all of the city’s two public high school graduations and was pleased to be “seeing those kids, really now they’re adults, moving into the future.”

In addition to quality of life issues, Lamontagne highlighted economic development projects like the cleanup of the Uniroyal site that straddles the Chicopee River. Again he praised Kos’s work on that front.

For now, Lamontagne is ready to step off the electoral playing after playing such a big part in this life. Being a cop is the focus now, but will politics beckon again?

“Only time will tell,” he said.