Knapik won’t seek fourth term, Roeder announces campaign
WESTFIELD – When the calendar pages flipped to 2015 last week, it not only meant a new year and fresh start for Westfield. It also marked the start of an election year, one in which Mayor Daniel Knapik
has decided not to participate.
At the beginning of his sixth year in office, Knapik made the decision not to seek reelection in November and said that he was “undecided” if he would finish out his term. Knapik said that he has the chance to be “selective” in deciding what his next steps will, so he is unsure what exactly that will be.
For now, Knapik has said that he is happy that he will leave Westfield “in a better spot” than when he entered office and is ready to pass along the responsibility.
“I just go back to my goals from 2009, and I accomplished them,” Knapik said. “It’s time for somebody else to take on this challenge.”
The announcement came as a shock Michael Roeder
, who was defeated by Knapik in the 2013 mayoral election
by 333 votes. Previous to Knapik’s announcement, Roeder said that he was considering a 2015 mayoral bid but was not anticipating making a final decision until the spring.
Instead, he threw his hat back in the ring after a Knapik’s decision was made public.
For the most part, Roeder said that his platform has remained the same. He said that his main concern is the fiscal state of the city, citing recent renovation projects, such as the Little River Fire Station, sitting alongside a tax raise for residents and business owners as a major cause for concern.
“Not a whole lot has changed since the last election, which is now about a year ago. We still have a mayor and a city council that is approving these expenses for an endless number of projects,” Roeder said. “I could stand here for the next 20 minutes and rattle off every single project coming down the pipeline.
“It’s unbelievable for a city of this size, and I think the people have had a enough … What you’re seeing now in the city of Westfield is a small group of people saying progress must be made at all costs … It’s an endless stream of projects that we cannot afford.”
Roeder said that his goal is the same as it was in 2013 – to give Westfield a fiscal break by cutting out the fat in the city’s budget.
Meanwhile, the entire election process hinges on a critical component: will Knapik finish out his term? If he does not, will there be a special election?
According to Roeder, there are a few different scenarios that could unfold in the coming months. The first scenario would be the most traditional. Knapik finishes out his term and the regular election is held in November.
If Knapik does, in fact, resigned and does so before July 1, a special election would be conducted. The candidate elected would hold the position for the remainder of the term and, conceivably, run again for a full two-year term in November.
If?Knapik resigns after July 1, the city council president would serve as acting mayor.
In the case of a special election, candidates would need to prepare themselves, essentially, for two elections in a year. If the special election is forgone, the city council president would be appointed to fill in for the remainder of the term.
A familiar name could be appointed acting mayor if Knapik should decide to not finish out his term. Brian Sullivan, whose brother Rick served as mayor of Westfield before Knapik, would be the man to fill in for the remainder of the mayor’s term. Sullivan was elected city council president on Jan. 4, making him the next in line if no special election is held.
“The last 20 years, the city has been run by the same clique of people,” Roeder said.
Because the Sullivans and the Knapiks are two prominent names in Westfield politics, Roeder said that he is aware that the close race in 2013 “surprised everybody involved,” and because of this, he said getting voters to turn out in November is crucial.
“We knew [in 2013] if we didn’t go over 10,000 voters out, I was probably going to lose,” Roeder said. “And I was right. This year it is critically important we get people to come out and vote.”