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Easthampton City Councilor Justin P. Cobb won’t seek re-election

GORODN DANIELS
at the Easthampton city council meeting, Josep McCoy, right, reads a resolution concerning a remark  made by councilor Donald L. Cykowski .  Next to him is Justin Cobb who was elected city council president at the meeting.

GORODN DANIELS at the Easthampton city council meeting, Josep McCoy, right, reads a resolution concerning a remark made by councilor Donald L. Cykowski . Next to him is Justin Cobb who was elected city council president at the meeting. Purchase photo reprints »

“It’s my time,” he said Wednesday afternoon before making the formal announcement at the City Council meeting that night. “I’m due to retire and there are all kinds of home repairs I need to get to.”

In addition to serving as council president, the 58-year-old East Street resident is also a member of the finance and government rules and regulations subcommittees of the council. He handily won election as the District 2 councilor on Nov. 4, 2003.

“It’s had its high moments and its low moments, but the city has progressed since I started,” Cobb said.

He works as a customer service representative for the University of Massachusetts physical plant in Amherst.

He has seen the city go through many changes, including some he suggested. Among the numerous items he has proposed to the council in his 10 years is a city charter change, approved in December 2010, that gave the City Council more control over interdepartmental transfers. In 2011, he proposed that the council’s ordinance subcommittee should review and revise the city’s special permitting process, a matter the subcommittee is still considering.

His district has been the site of numerous housing development projects in the last decade and he has opposed many of them, sometimes as a citizen speaking out at Planning Board meetings and occasionally by asking the council to block them.

A year ago this month, he asked the City Council to consider rescinding $200,000 in Community Preservation Act funds it had approved in 2010 for the creation of a 38-unit affordable housing development planned for 69 Parsons St. after the Planning Board and numerous neighbors opposed it. His motion narrowly failed and the project was permitted to go forward by the Zoning Board of Appeals a few months later.

District 5 Councilor Daniel D. Rist, who has served on the panel with Cobb for his whole tenure, said his colleague’s diligence and preparedness will be missed on the council.

“He always did his homework and researched issues we were going to discuss more than any other councilor,” Rist said Wednesday afternoon. “You have to have your facts straight if you are going to debate Justin.”

And Rist said he has sometimes been in that position over the years.

“I have not always agreed with him, but he has been a good councilor for the district he represents,” Rist said. “He’s served his district well and he has always had what he thinks is the city’s best interest at heart.”

Cobb said he is making the announcement more than eight months in advance of the November election in the hopes that it will “encourage those who have thought about running to consider it.”

In the last municipal election in November 2011, all nine City Council seats and the position of mayor were uncontested. Rist said it is hard to attract citizens to join the City Council because it is a high-profile job with a lot of responsibility.

“And usually people don’t run if someone else is,” he said. “I think this might get the ball rolling.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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