WESTFIELD – For the second time in as many months, Brian Sullivan was sworn into the mayor’s office in Westfield on Jan. 4. This time, however, he gets to drop the word “acting” from his title, he joked.
Sullivan stepped in as acting mayor after former Mayor Daniel Knapik resigned from his post for a position within Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, becoming the director of green communities for the Department of Energy Resources. As sitting City Council President, Sullivan was called upon to fill the role between the end of Knapik’s term and the beginning of his own.
Though he has been in his role for two months, with some limitations, Sullivan said he used the time to get a head start on the official start of his elected term.
“I’ve actually used my two months to get accustomed and acquainted, and I’m ready to go,” Sullivan told Reminder Publications. “We have a lot of new things going on that we’re going to get completed, and I’m looking forward to the next two years.”
In his inaugural address, Sullivan noted how much has been changing in the city.
“I’ve realized one of the biggest words in Westfield right now is ‘new,’” Sullivan said.
With the completion of the Westfield Senior Center, the aviation program at Westfield Technical Academy, the merging of Baystate Noble and an incoming president for Westfield State University, the city has opportunities for expansion and to “take advantage of what we have right here in Westfield.”
Sullivan said he would finish the Little River Road Fire Station process and evaluate and reorganize city departments, which will allow the city to examine and change how it functions internally.
“In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not a person who agrees with ‘Well, that’s just the way we’ve always done it.’ We’re going to change that attitude,” Sullivan said.
Pushing these projects and initiatives forward starts with his office, Sullivan said.
“What ties all of these together is a new administration,” he said. “My administration has already started, and I look forward to growing what we have, completing what we started and envisioning what we might get, and I know we can do that. I’m committed to progress.”
A key part of this would be keep lines of communication open, especially between the Mayor’s office and City Council Chambers. After 18 years on the Council, Sullivan said he knows “what it takes … to make things happen.”
Sullivan was sworn in alongside his children Chris and Tori, his girlfriend Sonia Brockney. His father Richard Sullivan, Sr. read the oath of office, and Sullivan thanked his mother, Edie, who sat in the front row, for her constant support.
In addition to Sullivan’s oath of office, the City Council was also instated. At Large Councilors Dan Allie, Brent Bean II, Dave Flaherty, Cindy Harris, Matthew VanHeynigen and Ward 2 Councilor Ralph Figy, Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell and Ward 5 Councilor Robert Paul Sr. returned to office after serving the previous term.
The newcomers to the council are At Large Councilor Steve Dondley, Ward 1 Councilor Mary Ann Babinski, Ward 3 Councilor Andrew Surprise and Ward 6 Councilor William Onyski. Knapik also took his oath as an at large councilor.
Ramon Diaz Jr., Diane Mayhew and Kevin Sullivan all were installed for another term on the School Committee, and the entire previous Westfield Gas and Electric Commission moved forward for another term.