Local politicians celebrate opening of Rep. Jim McGovern's office in Northampton
CAROL LOLLIS Jim McGovern in the Northampton Office Sunday afternoon, Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern drew a crowd Friday night at the opening of his regional office on Pleasant Street in Northampton. Dozens of local officials, political staffers and Democratic activists jammed the sidewalk for a ribbon-cutting.
McGovern, the Worcester Democrat who has been in Congress for over 15 years, began representing some Valley communities in January after the area was redistricted. He said the new office will help community members connect with him about local economic issues and provide a resource for constituents.
“Getting to know some of these new communities I have discovered some of the most beautiful parts of the commonwealth, and indeed some of the most beautiful parts of the country,” said McGovern. “I feel blessed to be able to have an office in a community like Northampton.”
The office will employ two full-time district representatives, Natalie Blais of Sunderland and Keith Barnicle of Northampton. Both Blais and Barnicle worked for U.S. Rep. John Olver, who represented many towns in Hampshire County for over two decades until his retirement this year.
The office will focus on constituent services — such as helping people navigate Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and immigration laws — and local economic development, said Scott Zoback, the congressman’s district press secretary.
Local politicians came Friday to welcome McGovern. Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz, who introduced McGovern, said he was excited for the office and for McGovern to represent the city.
Bill Dwight, president of the Northampton City Council, said he thought that McGovern, who is considered among the most liberal members of Congress, had found “kindred spirits” in Northampton.
“It’s nice that we actually have a congressman seated right here in the city of Northampton,” said Dwight. “It confers a certain status upon us that is very flattering, but at the same time, it also acknowledges what we always knew to be true, which is we’re a hub.”
The main reason McGovern chose to locate an office in Northampton is because it’s a regional center, according to Zomack. “We really wanted to be some place where people who need and want services could get here by public transportation or drive, and be able to easily access help,” he said.
McGovern’s primary district office is in Worcester, and he is opening another district office in Leominster Saturday.
Susan Enz, a Northampton resident, said it was about time a congressional office was opened in the city. “I’m happy he’s here because I think Western Mass. is definitely an ignored part of the state,” said Enz.
Many of those who turned out for the event were enthusiastic supporters of McGovern. Elliot Fratkin of Northampton and Lisa Baskin of Leeds said they volunteered for the congressman’s campaign.
“I think he’s a great congressman, one of the best in the country,” said Fratkin. “We’re very fortunate to have him represent our views.”
“I’ve been a supporter of his for years,” said Baskin. “He wasn’t my congressman but he reflected my political attitudes. So I’m so pleased that he’s now representing our political district.”
The 94 Pleasant St. office can be reached at (413) 341-8700.