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Briefings: Moriarty-Finn Launches with Eye on MGM, Public Safety…

Kelli Moriarty-Finn, center, speaks with supporters Tuesday night. (WMassP&I)

SPRINGFIELD—The steady drumbeat of the at-large Council race grew a bit louder with the formal kickoff of Kelli Moriarty-Finn’s campaign Tuesday evening. The prospect of a vacancy among the five at-large seats has drawn a sizable and growing field. Both returning challengers and newcomers are eyeing the seat, which will only heighten the challenge for Moriarty-Finn.

Nevertheless, Moriarty-Finn, who pulled papers last month, has one asset most political unknows lack. As an active part of Atwater Park’s influential civic association, she could gain entrée to the city’s still-relevant old-school political circles.

Moriarty-Finn, a financial services project manager, emphasized one perennial issue and a newer one coming into focus: public safety and holding MGM to its promises.

“Public safety continues to be number one,” she said in a brief interview.

The focus on public safety is no surprise. She sits on the new Police-Community Relations Committee Council President Orlando Ramos formed. But supporters also emphasized Moriarty-Finn’s commitment to Springfield.

Councilor Michael Fenton in December (WMassP&I)

Ward 2 Councilor Michael Fenton, a neighbor of Moriarty-Finn’s, said he met her after she arranged a welcome basket when he and his now husband first moved to Atwater Park.

Fenton noted Moriarty-Finn, a Holyoke native, moved to Springfield and later purchased and renovated a foreclosed home in Atwater. He said her commitment to the city and professional background would be welcome at 36 Court Street.

“What a wonderful addition to the City Council she would be,” Fenton told the crowd.

Among those gathered at Nathan Bill’s Bar & Grill kickoff were Hampden Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi, his predecessor Michael Ashe, Councilors Timothy Allen and Kateri Walsh and former Rep Sean Curran.

Many expect Bud Williams to forego another term after becoming a state rep this past January. That, and perhaps a post-2016 surge in engagement, has spiked interest in Springfield’s election. Well more than eleven candidates necessary to force a preliminary have pulled papers including several women.

Not too many women elected here. (WMassP&I)

Indeed, in her remarks to supporters, Moriarty-Finn noted the city’s “historically and grossly” poor representation of women. She committed to quarterly community meetings across the city and posting and justifying her votes online and on Facebook.

Moriarty-Finn called for more emphasis on the current opioid crisis. She also suggested using programs like D.A.R.E. to help bridge the gap between police and residents. Speaking to WMassP&I, Moriarty-Finn added, the city had to ensure “police are trained to be culturally sensitive” to improve police-community relations.

On the casino, Moriarty-Finn said the anticipated funds could be directed toward tax relief or invested into neighborhoods, which often struggle for attention, if not always funds, compared to downtown.

“Nothing is off the table,” she said.

Kelli Moriarty-Finn with supporters on the day she pulled papers. (WMassP&I)

At this stage, Moriarty-Finn has a great deal of work ahead to win a citywide race. Atwater Park, a well-off neighborhood of curling streets and massive homes, is a good base. However, it is not the leg up a former campaign is. Still, she has avid supporters backing her.

Ellen Hurley said she thought she had enough of campaigns after the slog her sister Mary went through during last year’s Governor’s Council race. But Moriarty-Finn’s run ended Hurley’s brief hiatus from politics. She will be stumping for Moriarty-Finn.

“Kelli is intelligent, articulate and will stand up for what the people of Springfield need,” Hurley said.