Springfield City Council President Marcus Williams to serve second term
Plans return to in-person City Council meetings in January
Springfield City Council President Marcus Williams will serve a second one-year term as leader of the city’s legislative body.
Williams, who ran un-opposed for re-election to his seat on the City Council from Ward 5, announced he had secured the unanimous backing of his colleagues for a second term as council president.
In an interview with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill, Williams talked about his priorities and his plan to have the Council return to in-person meetings in 2022.
I'm truly honored and blessed to have been elected as the 34th. President, you know, last year. And, you know, that unanimous support from my colleagues, I'm just truly, truly humbled by the vote of confidence that they have placed in me to serve as the the president for another term. And it's an honor that I certainly take very seriously.
What are your goals for the for the City Council, when the new sessions begin in January?
Yeah, it's going to be a return to some form of normalcy. You know, I'm certainly looking to bring the council back to the chambers. And also in terms of welcoming our two newest City Councilors that have been elected: Zaida Govan as well as Maria Perez. And, you know, there's there's a lot of in-house things that I have been focused on to, you know, just better streamline just some of the services that the city council office produces. So, you know, working hand in hand with Gladys , the City Clerk to ensure that our admin and the office have, you know, the tools they need to, to best also serve the constituents of, of each and every single counselor. So one of those things, for example, is I'm going to be looking to, you know, increase our social media presence, you know, the Springfield City Council is engaged in a lot of work and, you know, attends a lot of events that, you know, I think the public should be aware about. And so, you know, for example, creating and re instilling a incident Instagram and Facebook page is going to be one of the things that I'm going to be looking to do, and this next year, for example, and we're going to have a robust agenda for sure, you know, we're going to be dealing with some public safety issues as us, as you've been seeing, there's been an uptick in car accidents throughout the city and speeding, always been a concern, but it seems like it's being exacerbated now, for some reason, and we need to tackle that.
The Maintenance and Development Committee had a discussion earlier this year about the possibility of putting speed bumps or elevated crosswalks in some areas to try to cut down on speeding. Do you think that's something that might get some (no pun intended here) some traction in the coming session?
Yeah, It certainly could. I think we need to explore all options. And I think that in doing so, you know, we also need to work with the state legislature to make sure we are understanding what a city like Springfield can and cannot do, as it relates to, you know, trying to stop the the speeding, curb the speeding in the city. So, you know, I think it's going to be kind of a two pronged approach there. But beyond beyond, you know, speeding and car accidents, you know, there's a lot of Whole Health helmet issues that we're going to be tackling him, I think about public safety, you know, I'm anticipating that we will have a ruling from the appellate court, on the Police Commission, for example. And if it is favorable for the City Council, then we want to have an active voice in how that's established. And, you know, kind of the role that they will be playing the new role that they will be playing in terms of, you know, the disciplinary action of officers, and the list goes on. So, you know, that's, that's going to be coming up, I think, within the next year, if I had to put my money on it. And beyond public safety, again, maintenance, development issues, and also just those quality of life issues. I know, one of the concerns that I've had from residents in Ward five is around even, you know, the college and kind of residential relationship, right, and folks respecting kind of resident residential neighborhoods at the time of throwing parties and, and all of that stuff, but it's the little quality of life issues that really make Springfield the place to raise a family and and to keep a family here. So you know, we can't forget about those two, the ARPA, the ARPA funds are, of course, a hot topic, you know, hot topic. And we're looking to certainly diversify how that money gets spread throughout the city, making sure that residents have access to it, making sure that the RFP process is certainly seamless, and certainly seamless for folks like our seniors who, you know, we don't we don't want to drag them down with a four or five page application for an RFP if they are, you know, entitled to some type of funding. You know, there's a lot there's a lot of things that we will be discussing in the next year and I look forward to working with my colleagues to handle and tackle it all.
Let me get you back to the in-person meetings is that your goal or your plan to resume in-person meetings come the first of January?
It is Paul. Yes, it is my intention and I've communicated this already to some of the council and I've also solicited some of their input on that, and a lot of counselors feel that it is appropriate to return after the holiday season. Now, what I am hoping is that there is not another uptick in COVID cases due to, you know, gathering of families and all of that during the holiday season. So, you know, we're still gonna be monitoring that. But I think folks want to get back. I think people from the public want to engage with the council, again, in the chambers. But again, approaching this delicately, I still think, for subcommittee meetings, for example, I know the executive order from the governor should be lifted, I believe, April or May. So therefore, you know, if there's an option to keep subcommittees of virtual, was, I think, have actually boost participation, and made it easier for counselors to join those types of meetings. That I think, you know, I would love for that to be a permanent mainstay, if possible. And I think I'm going to be working on drafting a letter with the counselors to of course, send to our friends in Boston, and stressing why, you know, we need to, of course, come back and person but we certainly need to accommodate those that might not be able to get there and I think a virtual platform for subcommittee meetings, certainly seems appropriate.