Jarrett announces bid for Ward 5 council seat in Northampton

  • Alex Jerrett, a candidate for Northampton City Council's Ward 5, talks about his policy ideas at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, April 19, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • Alex Jerrett, a candidate for Northampton City Council's Ward 5, talks about his policy ideas at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, April 19, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • Alex Jarrett, a candidate for Northampton City Council's Ward 5, talks about his policy ideas at the Gazette, Friday. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

Staff Writer
Published: 4/21/2019 11:37:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Alex Jarrett says he’s hopeful about the city’s future, and he’s running for the Ward 5 seat on the City Council to enact policies that will keep it on that track.

Jarrett, 43, is a founder and worker-owner at Pedal People, a Northampton worker-owned cooperative whose services include trash and compost pickup and moving services, all done entirely by bicycle.

Jarrett helped start the business in 2002, which formally became a worker cooperative in 2006.

“We had no idea if it would be successful,” he said.

Pedal People now has 17 worker-owners and two non-worker-owner employees. Its clients include the city of Northampton.

Jarrett will be getting married in June, and is set to become a stepfather of two. He grew up in Boston, and first moved to Northampton in 1998.

He listed U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, and state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, as political inspirations.

“They really speak from their heart,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett will be running against Ward 5 City Councilor David Murphy, who said Friday that he will be seeking his eighth term on the City Council.

This is Jarrett’s first run for elected office.

One of the issues that Jarrett highlighted in his conversation with the Gazette is affordable housing.

“Many people can’t afford to live here,” he said.

Jarrett, who serves on the Northampton Housing Partnership, said he’s interested in exploring structures that allow for more affordable housing in the city, and as an example cited the success of the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont.

Development is another issue that Jarrett is concerned with. He said he’s interested in encouraging dense development in town, including Florence Center, and discouraging it on the outskirts. However, he said that this won’t involve doing away with services.

“It’s really a zoning question,” he said.

Jarrett said that denser development is beneficial to both the city, because it costs less money to deliver services, and the environment, because people are able to walk more, while also citing the health benefits of walking culture.

Climate change is another issue Jarrett is running on.

“It’s caring about us here in Northampton and it’s caring about the world,” he said.

He cited energy standards for municipal buildings and continuing Northampton’s tree planting efforts as examples of policies for tackling it.

Jarrett would also like the city to promote cooperatives, saying that they involve “people who are living in the community in charge of the business.”

And Jarrett said that he would look to models from other cities, such as New York, that are actively working to encourage their creation.

“Where would a small investment make a much larger one?” he said.

Jarrett said that as a councilor he would want to reach out to people who don’t necessarily come to council meetings, such as those living in affordable housing projects.

He also said that social justice is important, and that he would want to examine actions and policies to determine, “is there something oppressive,” in them, for groups such as racial minorities, veterans, and women.

Jarrett also said that it is important to include the voices of such groups.

The City Council is set for significant turnover, with Ward 2 Councilor Dennis Bidwell, Ward 7 Councilor Alisa Klein and At-Large City Councilor Ryan O’Donnell all choosing not to seek re-election. Ward 4 City Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra, meanwhile, is running for city councilor at-large.

The election is set for Nov. 5, and if there are more than two candidates for any seats, a nonpartisan primary will be held on Sept. 17.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com


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