Coffin and Moulton vie for seat in Northampton City Council Ward 1

NORTHAMPTON – Two candidates are running to replace Ward 1 Councilor Michael Quinlan in the Nov. 2 election after Quinlan joined the race for a general seat instead of being re-elected.

Ward 1 is the northeast corner of the city. The district stretches from the town of Hatfield to King Street to Summer Street and includes Damon Road, Bridge Road and Industrial Drive. The ward is bordered to the northwest by Leeds and Cooley Dickinson Hospital is just across the western border in Ward 5A.

The Ward 1 candidates, in the order they appear on the ballot, are Emily “Lemy” Coffin and Stanley Moulton.

Lemy coffin

Social worker, family therapist and queer community organizer from Los Angeles, Coffin has lived in Northampton for over 10 years. In California, Coffin, who uses them / them pronouns, was an advocate for teaching LGBTQ history in schools and fighting the school-to-prison pipeline, among other social justice causes. like marriage equality.

Coffin served in AmeriCorps before moving to Northampton to major in government studies at Smith College and also worked in a group home for troubled teens in Springfield and for DIAL / SELF Youth and Community Services in Greenfield.

Coffin, a tenant, said housing affordability is a central concern of their campaign and that in addition to building new units, the city and state need to ensure repairs and energy upgrades are made. existing affordable housing.

In an interview outside their Aster Fields apartment, Coffin said they were “progressive and pragmatic,” with a “fresh and informed” perspective on the issues facing the city.

Voters are worried about empty downtown storefronts and how to revitalize the local economy after being hit hard during the pandemic, Coffin said. With $ 21.7 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds available to spend over two years, Coffin said the city also has an opportunity to focus on low-income people and people of color.

Coffin supports the new Department of Community Care, an alternative emergency response service that will handle calls from suspicious people, mental health crises, wellness checks and other matters typically handled by police. The ministry received an allocation of $ 424,000 in the fiscal year 2022 budget, about half of the amount recommended by the Police Services Review Board.

“When the police are not the right person, who do we call? Usually we don’t call anyone, ”Coffin said. “I don’t want to call the police on a neighbor or a family member who has come to a rally. I just want to give people more options.

A former member of the Western Mass SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) treasury team, Coffin said the success of the department depends on hiring the right implementation director and providing that person with the support and support. resources it needs to apply for more funding. from the city and from outside sources.

Voters will answer poll question 1, asking if they support the city providing broadband internet service. Coffin said internet service “has become as necessary as water and electricity,” and supports the issue of giving Northampton residents another choice than Comcast.

Coffin has secured the support of outgoing Ward 7 Councilor Rachel Maiore, former Ward 7 Councilor Alisa Klein and Dan Cannity, who served as co-chair of the Northampton Police Review Board.

Stanley moulton

Moulton worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette for 42 years as a journalist and editor before retiring in 2018. He serves on the board of directors of Northampton Open Media, chaired the charter review committee of the city ​​in 2019 and spent a decade as Chairman of the Citizens Scholarship Foundation of Northampton.

A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Moulton bought his home on Perkins Avenue in Northampton more than four decades ago. He grew up in New Hampshire.

Moulton is supporting the construction of affordable housing at 33 King St., the former Hampshire County Hall of Records, and he said the city must prioritize the needs of low-income people and people of color when distributing federal COVID-19 relief funds, called ARPA.

ARPA money, Moulton said, is expected to support families disproportionately affected by the pandemic, provide a bounty for frontline workers and boost small businesses.

Moulton said he was a “big supporter of Issue 1”, which would allow the city to continue the process of establishing municipal Internet service. He said the state-mandated language of the issue is “confusing” and it is up to supporters to explain it to the general public.

“People want their councilor to introduce themselves, to provide clear answers to their questions, to communicate with them,” said Moulton, adding that one of the goals of leadership is “to act early.” Try to find common ground rather than allowing divisions to fester.

During the campaign season, Moulton said he walked the more than 60 streets in Ward 1 and knocked on hundreds of doors.

“My approach has really been to have one-on-one conversations. I feel like I can make that connection when I’m at someone’s door, ”Moulton said.

The state legislature recently approved a package of charter changes recommended by the committee chaired by Moulton. He said he was “very, very proud” that the post of city clerk is now appointed rather than elected, which “reflects the professionalism of this work”.

Moulton said he is concerned with enabling the Ministry of Community Care to be successful and improve downtown safety and accessibility through the Main Street redesign.

He garnered the support of Sam Hopper, vice chairman of the Charter Review Committee during his tenure, and four former Ward 1 councilors – Maureen Carney, Judith Fine, Michael Kirby and outgoing General Councilor Bill Dwight.

Moulton also won the support of Local 1459 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. On UFCW, Moulton said the union represents thousands of “working families, and they are certainly people I will work hard for on City Council.”

Brian Steele can be reached at [email protected]

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