Bidwell Advisors
February 6, 2019
To neighbors and friends, Ward 2 and elsewhere,

It has been a privilege and honor to serve two terms as a Northampton City Councilor, representing the people of Ward 2. During this time the Council has tackled issues of neighborhood, citywide, state and national significance. I've greatly enjoyed being a city councilor but after considerable thought and discussion with family and friends, I've decided not to run again for the position of Ward 2 City Councilor or for an At-Large position on the Council.
I will continue to work hard and to do the best job I can until my term is up at the end of this year.

I've been going to too many memorial services in recent years, including for friends my age and younger. There are many things I want to do in the years ahead - spend more time with family (including with my 18-month old granddaughter), travel and pursue the many interests I have set aside for far too long. 
I am hoping that some younger folks in Ward 2 might be interested in running for this open seat. I know it's a challenge for youthful people to take on a City Council role - juggling City Council work with raising a family, in some cases, and developing a career, can be daunting. But the rewards are many.

I welcome the chance to sit down and talk with anyone who might want to consider running for this office.

I've enjoyed being an integral part of the workings of City government. Supporting Sanctuary City status and all that goes with it in the age of Trump; understanding the operations and financing of our utilities and enterprise funds (water, sewer, storm water, solid waste); playing a role in the development and approval of a $112 million annual budget; reviewing and approving the hiring of department heads and appointments to boards and commissions; finding ways to help constituents get their problems and concerns addressed (potholes, paving, lighting, traffic, plowing...); becoming involved in important land conservation, affordable housing, public health and social services issues; finding ways for all voices to be heard regarding the complex issues facing downtown, including affordability, panhandling, homelessness and availability of services; advocating for our public schools and the families they serve; sponsoring ordinances and resolutions addressing local matters like recreational marijuana, state legislation on a carbon tax, and pressing national concerns - it's all been fascinating. 

And I've enjoyed writing these occasional newsletters, in which I have had the opportunity to explain, offer commentary, and advocate.

I have come to appreciate the excellent performance of Mayor David Narkewicz, who holds a very demanding position. My admiration for the City's department heads and other employees has grown as I've come to know more about the complexities of their jobs, especially in an attentive and activist-oriented city like Northampton.

I've also appreciated the hard work, commitment and thoughtfulness of my colleagues on City Council.

When friends tell me that serving on City Council seems like a thankless job, I push back every time, telling them that no, I frequently hear from people who express their appreciation, which means a great deal to me.

I've been asked what sort of people would make a positive impact on the Council in the years ahead. Since there will be one, perhaps two, openings for At-Large Council positions, and at least three openings for Ward Councilor positions, it is important to reflect on what we want to see in City Councilors in the near term.

I hope that in the years ahead we are served by Councilors who take as seriously the impact of their votes and voices on the operation of City departments as they do the purity of their ideology or their alignment with national movements. I hope for City Councilors who are thoughtful and balanced, rather than knee-jerk, when staking out positions. And I hope that our City Councilors will be willing to stand up to the loudest and most intimidating voices in Council chambers, recognizing that most issues are way more complicated than simplistic bumper sticker slogans.

Though I won't be in the middle of the fray in Council meetings after the end of this year, I expect to stay involved with the issues, organizations and campaigns that define our wonderful community.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve Northampton.


Dennis Bidwell
Dennis Bidwell City Council Ward 2
19 Forbes Avenue
Northampton, MA 01060