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Briefings: Has Chicopee Reached the Edge of the Kos-mos?…

UPDATED 2/26/19 9:00AM: To include a link to Kos’s statement on WWLP and to correct the year Kos first became mayor. It was 1997, not 1995.

Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos (courtesy Mayor’s office)

Not long after pulling papers for reelection, Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos has declared he will not seek reelection in 2019. In press conference Monday, the chief executive of the 413’s second largest city announced plans to return to private practice after serving three terms in his second mayoral stint. Kos also served as mayor from 1997 to 2003.

That return to Chicopee City Hall in 2013 came at the expense of then-mayor Michael Bissonnette, whom Kos defeated. After Bissonnette, who had served four two-year terms before his defeat, failed to reclaim his seat, Kos seemed secure for as long as he wanted the position. But the grueling hours and passive-aggressive nature of Chicopee poiltical probably made a return to law more attractive.

Kos’s full statement was  published by WWLP.

A moderate Weld/Baker Republican in a diversifying Chicopee, Kos will likely be remembered for steering several low-key, but long-lingering economic development projects. This month, he also kicked off a major renovation of the historic, churchlike City Hall on Springfield Street.

Compared to his first crack at mayoring, Kos has enjoyed largely good relations with the Council. With rare exceptions, he and the body have gotten along. This is in stark contrast to mayor and councils in neighboring communities.

Although arguably as urban mixed with expanses of suburban tracts like Holyoke or Springfield, Chicopee only recently began picking up a substantial Hispanic population. But politics has not entirely caught up. The Council today is probably as diverse as the one elected 100 years ago. Youth, not gender or race, are the biggest contrasts on the body. However, women do current serve on the City Council and some elected executive functions.

Time for Kos to disembark from the Starship Chicopee? (created via Google Maps & wikipedia)

One consequence of that bland official class is an absence of obvious contenders for mayor. Unlike in Westfield, which will also have an incumbent-free mayoral contest this year, the factions in the city are far vaguer. Many Chicopee watchers often shorthand sides in city politics to where people came down in the last Bissonnette-Kos standoff. Others point to perhaps politicos alliances with the mayor or Democratic State Rep. Joseph Wagner. The absence of clear lines complicates even guessing about who might enter the race.

A random shriek of mayoral maybes would probably include Bissonnette, City Council President John Vieau, at-large Councilor Frank LaFlamme and Ward 1 Councilor Joel McAuliffe.

At the start of the year, Lower Valley politics was primed to be a snooze. Now, Westfield’s mayoralty is open and Police scandals threaten to consume Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. Today, Chicopee joined the battle for the Valley’s attention and contributions.