|Councilor Wright (campaign photo)|
Western Mass Politics & Insight has learned that Keith Wright, Ward 6 City Councilor has resigned. In a letter to his friends and supporters, Wright explained that his infant son required round-the-clock attention having been born prematurely several months ago. The resignation is effective December 31. Under municipal law, his opponent in last year's general election, Amaad Rivera, would take the seat. Absent that the City Council would appoint somebody from Ward 6.
Wright's departure may somewhat upset the balance on the City Council, which had moved in a somewhat independent direction since the body was expanded to eight ward seats and five at-large. For much of the last six years, the council had been relegated to second banana status following the Control Board's arrival. For only 6 months between the FCB's departure and this past January did the old format council enjoy any power. Before the Control Board, the council often failed to challenge the mayor on a range of issues. Their last vote of consequence was the vote to formally request state assistance, at the behest of then-mayor Charles Ryan.
Wright also belonged to a bloc of councilors known to confront issues a bit more pragmatically than usual. Complex issues like taxes, the budget, and economic development often received a less populous and more cerebral treatment from Wright, Ward 2 Councilor Michael Fenton and Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen. Their colleagues on the council, as well as the mayor, have often responded to this approach with hostility and, even bewilderment. At last Monday's meeting when the three councilors abstained from both votes on trash fee proposals, the motivation was not one of abdication as the mayor suggested, but in fact a protest and a demand that they receive clearer financial information before taking a side. As WMassP&I noted Tuesday, their abstentions would have changed nothing, contrary to the mayor's comments. WMassP&I incorrectly recorded the vote for Tosado's anti-fee resolution as 6-4. It was 7-3, meaning, the abstentions would have left the result unchanged. The mayor's home rule petition needed 9 votes, but failed 5-5.
While nobody knows what to expect from Amaad Rivera, this blog and others worried aloud about his socialist tendencies in endorsing Wright. Should Rivera take a seat on the council, we wish him well and have no hard feelings. Last year after the election, Rivera in an email to WMassP&I accused us and others of misrepresenting him and his views. We kindly reminded him that he, in addition to many council hopefuls, had been invited to participate in our election survey. He ignored our request and so we only had what little data we could locate on him. It certainly was not personal and we urge him to remain in contact with us, should he take the seat.
In any event, we conclude with thanking Councilor Wright for his service to the Springfield City Council and to Ward 6, the home ward of WMassP&I. Our thoughts are with the Wright and his family as they and the city move forward.