Campaign Notebook: Candidates set for Northampton City Council race in Ward 6
Michael A. Janik
NORTHAMPTON — The three candidates vying to represent Ward 6 on the City Council have officially announced their candidacies in recent weeks.
Here’s a look at each of them: incumbent Marianne L. LaBarge and challengers Yvonne Keefe and Michael A. Janik. A preliminary election is scheduled for Sept. 17 to whittle the field to two candidates.
Marianne L. LaBarge of 698 Westhampton Road is seeking a ninth consecutive term on the council. Born and raised in Northampton, LaBarge remains passionate about the city and city government. In her 16 years on the council, she has served on nearly every committee and has written many ordinances and resolutions that have “given residents a better quality of life,” she said in a recent statement.
LaBarge is particularly proud of the conservation of the quarry on Turkey Hill Road and cites her record on sponsoring an ordinance to protect drinking water and prevent expansion of the landfill over the Barnes Aquifer. Her ability as a “hands-on” councilor proved beneficial during the two-year reconstruction of Route 66, serving as a liaison between the neighborhood and state and city officials.
She lists several issues that will continue to be priorities should she be elected again. These include quality education, including keeping Ryan Road and all elementary schools open and the city budget.
She calls for an expansion of revenue sources and more efficient use of city resources, including a better payment in lieu of taxes agreements with large nonprofits like Smith College and moving ahead with plans to install solar arrays over the closed landfill.
LaBarge is married to Richard LaBarge Sr.
Yvonne Keefe of 40 Hickory Drive retired in 2004 from the Massachusetts Army National Guard, where she was a lieutenant colonel and chief of environmental compliance.
She worked for more than 20 years in private and government sectors, where she gained experience in writing procedures and interpreting regulations at the federal, state and local levels.
If elected, Keefe aims to work to secure state funding so that the city’s school system and public safety are not “held hostage at the voting booth.” She also plans to encourage better communication between councilors and city departments; promote fiscal responsibility within the city budget; and push for economic development that benefits all citizens.
Keefe has children in school, but did not support the override because she said Ward 6 does not receive basic necessities. This lack of service is compounded by extra expenses families face, as well as the constant threat of cutting services, teachers and programs.
A substitute teacher in the Northampton school system, Keefe also serves as the voting warden for Precint 6B, volunteers for the American Red Cross, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the 104th Fighter Wing Family Readiness Group for the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
Other community involvement has included coaching youth sports, serving as an assistant Scout leader, teaching religious education classes and co-chairing the School Council at Ryan Road Elementary School, where she was a PTO member.
Keefe is married to Col. James Keefe and has two high school-aged children.
Michael E. Janik of 44 Pencasal Drive said he’s been approached by many Ward 6 residents encouraging him to run. These residents tell him that many of the themes he discussed two years ago during an unsuccessful run for an at-large position on the council still resonate with them.
Janik believes that if residents look at his past candidacy, along with his experience and education, they will see a candidate who works for more open government and has a vision to help continue making Northampton livable, affordable and economically stronger.
Janik said it’s a lifelong dream of his to serve in city government, and if elected he will be a person who is honest, accessible and committed.
Janik is a U.S. Navy veteran who, like two years ago, wishes to put his education and life experiences to work for the benefit of the city, including improving the schools, the local economy, budgetary decisions, and sustainability planning.
Janik added that he would bring a fiscally responsible approach to the council and describes himself as an independent thinker who will ask important questions.
Janik is married to Constance Janik and has four children. He grew up in Holyoke and has lived in Northampton for the past 20 years.