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City Council Ward 2 seat remains vacant

Date: 12/12/2012

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD — The Ward 2 City Council seat remains vacant, with no immediate fulfillment of the position in sight.

Mayor Daniel Knapik said he is not seeking a quick solution.

The spot has been empty since August when Councilor Jim Brown vacated the seat, citing increased duties with his job as assistant field office director for Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations in Boston, as reason for the resignation.

Back in October, the council passed on the responsibility of choosing a successor to Mayor Daniel Knapik, after its members could not agree on the most efficient and fair process to fill the void.

Resident Brian Winters, who received one write-in vote in the most recent election, had come forward with interest in fulfilling the vacancy. Winters was the next highest vote getter since Brown ran unopposed. One source of debate among the councilors was whether a single vote solidified Winters' candidacy, since ballot listings require 50 signatures as a stipulation.

Another cause for concern among some of the councilors was Winters' involvement as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city regarding the construction of the Ashley Street School Project and the demolition of Cross Street Playground.

The discord was not resolved, and the council voted on Oct. 4 to make it the responsibility of the mayor to fill the seat.

"I have a variety of different options," Knapik said. "I have not made a decision yet and don't currently have a timeline designated for doing so — it's an enormously difficult decision."