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Residents file motion in response to complaint

Date: 2/22/2013

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD — On Feb. 13, a Motion to Intervene was filed in response to the city's Complaint for Declaratory Judgment that seeks clarification of the its Charter.

If granted, the motion would enable residents to address the issue of the vacant Ward 2 seat without formally filing a civil suit.

Attorney Mark Tanner of the Bacon Wilson law firm in Northampton filed the motion on behalf of Ward 2 constituents to intercede the complaint process in order to have the residents' concerns addressed immediately.

Tanner submitted notice to City Solicitor Susan Phillips on Feb. 1 of his intent to move forward with a civil action suit if resident Brian Winters was not seated by conclusion of the City Council meeting on Feb. 7.

According to the City's Charter, the one write-in vote Winters received in the last election made him the next highest vote getter since Councilor Jim Brown ran unopposed.

In the motion, Tanner declared, "The defendant is the duly elected representative of Ward 2 under the City Charter but the mayor and City Council have refused to seat him."

Mayor Daniel Knapik filed the complaint on Feb. 7, seeking interpretation of his duties in filling the Ward 2 City Council seat, which has remained vacant for six months after Brown resigned last August.

The motion stated, "This action was brought against Brian Winters in direct response to a courtesy copy of a complaint provided to the city of Westfield, Mass. that the voters intended to file if Mr. Winters was not seated as the City Councilor for Ward Two. In direct response to the Voters' proposed civil action the Plaintiffs filed this action."

A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. at Hampden Superior Court.