WESTFIELD – Westfield and West Springfield voted in two new mayors, Brian Sullivan and Will Reichelt, respectively, while Agawam brings Mayor Richard Cohen back for a sixth term. Elections in all three towns took place on Nov. 3.
Sullivan took about a 1,000-vote victory over his opponent Mike Roeder in the Westfield election. Roeder also ran against Mayor Daniel Knapik in 2013, losing by about 300 votes.
Sullivan announced his intention to run in February at the Tavern Restaurant, and on election night, he found himself celebrating with his supporters in the spot where it all began.
The sitting City Council president said he could not have come this far without help.
“Tonight’s victory was a show of community involvement and cooperation, and the people that asked to help me showed up and helped and they did. It was a good day,” Sullivan told Reminder Publications. “It’s been great support. That’s why I am where I am. Family, friends and the support just showed up today. They’ve been there for 10 months for me and they really came through.”
Though he said the “stress level was high” on Election Day, Sullivan said he will be ready to work for the city.
“The people talked to us while we were out there, and I know what they want and I’m going to produce,” Sullivan said. “I’ve already talked to people in this room that are willing to step up and help, and we’re going to start Jan. 1. We’re ready to go.”
Roeder could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The mayoral seat opened up after Knapik made the decision not to seek reelection in January. Knapik was a finalist for the town administrator positions in Walpole and Wilbraham, but was not selected and withdrew, respectively.
Though Knapik is not returning to the mayor’s office, he will continue to serve Westfield in the public sector as an at-large city councilor.
He was voted in an at-large seat along with incumbents Daniel Allie, Matthew VanHeynigen, Brent Bean II, Cindy Harris and Dave Flaherty. Steve Dondley was also elected as an at-large city councilor by three votes over John Beltrandi III.
Incumbent Ward 1 City Councilor Christopher Keefe was voted out, with Mary Ann Babinksi garnering roughly 150-vote win. Andrew Surprise topped incumbent Brian Hoose for the Ward 3 seat by just more than 100 votes. Mary O’Connell, incumbent Ward 4 councilor, retained her seat by 50 votes against challenger Katherine Bentrewicz. William Onyski was voted into the Ward 6 spot over Cheryl Crowe.
Incumbents Ralph Figy and Robert Paul Sr. of Wards 2 and 5 both ran unopposed.
Ramon Diaz Jr., Diane Mayhew and Kevin Sullivan were all voted back onto the School Committee, and Patricia Steel-Perkins ran unopposed for the a six-year term as Athenaeum Trustee.
Reichelt took West Springfield by nearly a thousand votes over state Rep. Mike Finn. Reichelt, who has served as the town’s attorney under Mayor Edward Sullivan, said hard work and visibility through social media, community events and throughout town made up the core of his campaign.
“It was a great day. I’m thrilled. We worked really hard this past summer, not just me. It was everyone – my brother, my family. It was an absolutely fantastic campaign. I loved it. I had a blast and I look forward now to being the mayor,” Reichelt said.
He also said the five-point plan, which has served as the core of his platform, showed residents what they could expect from him once he takes the mayor’s seat. Reichelt’s plan breaks down to being accessible, approachable and accountable, creating a safe community, supporting quality education, business development and fighting blight.
The Sept. 8 preliminary election, which eliminated former mayor Greg Neffinger from contention, saw Reichelt lead over Finn by nearly 500 votes. He said he wanted a “big win” in the general election, and the effort that brought success in September came through again, he said.
“It was hard work that got us there at the preliminary election, and it was hard work that got us here now,” Reichelt said.
Reichelt and his supporters packed into the Dante Club after the election, waiting only 30 minutes after the ballots closed at 8 p.m. before Finn made his concession speech at Sorrento’s.
Finn made his way to the Dante Club to congratulate Reichelt and his supporters. Though Finn will remain in his place as a state representative, he said running again at the state level is something he and his wife will discuss as the 2016 election draws closer.
In this election, however, Finn said he was proud of his campaign.
“We ran a hard, honest, clean campaign. The support that we got along the way was fantastic, and I’m not discouraged at all,” Finn said. “I think at the end of the day the town of West Springfield wins, and the voters have spoken.”
Sullivan made the decision not to run in the 2015 election to return to his family business and refused to make an official endorsement for either campaign. It was important to him and the town that he did so, he said.
“I specifically didn’t want to endorse anybody because I wanted them to win or lose on their own,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s important. It’s almost like a public interview process, and you’ve got two guys who are very capable.”
In Town Council elections, West Springfield brings back all five of its incumbent at large councilors, including George Kelly, Brian Griffin, Bruce Gendron, Bridget Fiala and Brian Clune.
Nathan Bech defeated incumbent District 2 Councilor Lida Powell, and Jill Fortier-Withee edged out Michael Eger for the District 1 seat. District 3 Councilor George Condon returns to his post, running unopposed, and Daniel O’Brien will take over the District 4 seat left vacant by President John Sweeney.
All six current School Committee members will retain their seats. Kathy Alevras, Nancy Farrell, Joey Sutton, Michelle Serafino, Patricia Garbacik and Jose Irizarry, Jr. ran unopposed for the available spots.
In Agawam, Cohen was able to stave off a write-in campaign started by business owner William Clark. This marks Cohen’s sixth term as mayor.
The City Council race that saw 17 candidates ended with all but one incumbent being re-elected. Councilor Dennis Perry was voted out, and Richard Theroux has been elected onto the council. Theroux has spent the last 32 years as the city clerk but will leave the post in January for a job in the private sector. He has previously served on the council.
Returning City Councilors are George Bitzas, Cecilia Calabrese, Paul Cavallo, James Cichetti, Gina Letellier, Joseph Mineo, Donald Rheault, Robert Rossi and Anthony Suffriti.
Current School Committee members Anthony Bonavita, Shelley Borgatti-Reed, Roberta Doering, Diane Juzba, Carmino Mineo and Wendy Rua have all been reelected. Challenger Brian Burbank was unable to secure a seat on the committee.