WESTFIELD Mayor Richard K. Sullivan announced his resignation on May 23 in City Council Chambers during an emergency press conference. He said his decision came quickly after word from Governor Deval Patrick and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles that he was selected to serve as Commissioner of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
"Personally this is an exciting day for me," Sullivan said. " I am humbled and gratified by this position elected. Westfield is in my heart. I will be living here," he added.
He expects to travel to Boston four times a week during the early stages of the transition and then hopes this number greatly reduces after that.
Sullivan said he has two sons who are at the Westfield High School and that he and his wife decided long ago to see them through it.
During his speech he concentrated much of his attention on thanking his family and specifically his wife for their support in his position as mayor and now as commissioner.
Sullivan said that the job as mayor was, "anything but stale."
"There is no perfect time [to leave] if you are doing your job," he said. "Though I will miss this, the person to really thank is my wife. The spouse of an elected official does not have an easy life."
Sullivan went onto acknowledge his children Michael, Courtney and Richard "Kick".
"They have been a rock at home and allowed me to do the job," he said. Sullivan's last day as mayor will be June 11. City Council President Charlie Medieros will replace him as acting- mayor.
Sullivan said there is no need for special elections. He said nomination papers are available in the city clerk's office as of May 23 for the fall election.
"I am happy for Rick and Lisa and the family," Medieros said. "You stay in there for as long as Rick did and you can't make everyone happy. It is about time that Rick moves on. The Governor appointed the right guy for job. We didn't always agree on everything but I think he has done a great job on the school system."
Medieros, who has served in public office for 32 years, said he is familiar with the limited powers that come with being mayor- elect because he served this position before.
As far as running for the position of mayor Medieros said,
"I will leave it open. I will analyze who is in the race. My personal choice is Mike Knapik. If he runs I wouldn't consider."
Sullivan said his new responsibilities charge him with focusing the DCR on its core mission of maintaining parks and beaches.
"That is exactly what I intend to do," he said. "I will strive to be responsive to the many constituents while working with the beaches and the communities."
Sullivan described Massachusetts as having the oldest park system in the country with over 450,000 acres of trees.
"I will focus resources on the maintenance and the up-keep of the facilities," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that the forests and beaches are an important part of the quality of life for the state because they affect commerce, tourism and the overall quality of life.
Sullivan spent time talking about the achievements he was proud of during his 14-year term.
"We have accomplished many great things in the public school system and with the parks and I've only been allowed to do that because of the support of the community," he said.
Sullivan went on to address ongoing projects in the city. He said the budget's release in early summer was not a concern because he and city officials were already two weeks ahead in their work.
Sullivan spoke of the Great River Bridge Project and the Rail Track Project and that in his new position he would be able to work more closely on them.
Sullivan said specifics as to the terms of the transition from this position to the new one are still being discussed.