State Senator Gomez Resigns Springfield City Council Seat
Newly installed Massachusetts State Senator Adam Gomez has announced he is resigning his seat on the Springfield City Council. It puts City Hall in uncharted territory when it comes to filling the vacancy on the 13-member council.
In a statement, Gomez, who had initially planned to keep both elected offices, said residents of Ward 1 “deserve someone who can serve them fully.” It will be up to the City Council to name someone to serve out the rest of Gomez’s term, according to Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola-Lopez.
" There is no special election and in this case because Adam Gomez ran unopposed in the last election there is no next-highest vote-getter ( to automatically take the seat)," explained Oyola-Lopez.
Because this has not happened before in the 12 years since ward representation was inaugurated in Springfield, Councilors will have to devise a process for appointing Gomez’s successor.
"It is important to have a very open, fair, and transparent process," said Springfield City Council President Marcus Williams.
He said beginning Monday, February 8 and continuing for a two week period, the Council will accept applications from people seeking appointment to the Ward 1 seat. A cover letter and resume can be mailed or emailed to the City Council office in City Hall.
"I imagine there will be a high level of interest in the Ward 1 seat," said Williams.
Depending on how many people apply, Williams said he might appoint a committee to narrow the field. Finalists will be interviewed by the Councilors in a public meeting followed by open deliberation and a vote. The person who gets a majority vote would get the seat. As Williams laid it out during an interview with WAMC, the process is identical to how the Council went about appointing a new City Clerk two years ago.
The only qualifications spelled out in state law are that the person be a registered voter of the city. That leaves it open for the Council to consider a potential appointee’s record of public service and civic engagement, said Williams.
"Things of that nature would shed light on who would be a good fit for the position," said Williams.
Williams said he would not preclude the person appointed to the seat from seeking a full two-year term in the next election.
"I am not comfortable with saying that at all because I don't know if that is legal," said Williams.
As of Wednesday, no one had filed paperwork to create a campaign account to run for City Council in Ward 1. Nomination papers for the 2021 municipal elections in Springfield do not become available until the end of this month.