Dwight ending long run on Northampton City Council

  • William H. Dwight pictured in 2017. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO


Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2021 8:10:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After nearly 20 collective years of being on the City Council, at-large member William Dwight announced he’s not seeking another term this fall.

“It really is the most important thing I’ve done,” Dwight said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m a slacker and an aging hippie. This was the thing that gave me personal value. That sounds kinda selfish, but by and large the reason was, I was able to at least work toward what I consider to be best for everyone … all the constituency.”

Dwight, 65, was first elected to the council as the Ward 1 member in 1997 and served four terms until he left in 2005 and hosted “The Bill Dwight Show” on WHMP radio. He returned to the council as an at-large member in 2012 and was elected City Council president. Outside of the council, Dwight was a longtime clerk at the now-defunct Pleasant Street Video, and worked at the Florence Pie Bar.

With current council president and at-large member Gina-Louise Sciarra announcing her run for mayor this week, the council will have some new faces next year.

“I think the next version is going to be pretty interesting by the shape of things,” said Dwight, who considered not running for reelection two years ago. “There will be two at-large seats open. I think at this point I don’t have much left to give folks that would be an enormous benefit.” He added that he’s not going to run “just so I can sit around and talk a lot.”

Former Ward 5 councilor David Murphy announced Wednesday that he plans to run for one of the council’s at-large seats (story, Page A3).

Asked about his accomplishments as a councilor, Dwight said “there are no real personal accomplishments when you are a city councilor — it’s a collaborative process,” he said. “To run around and tout my big doings ... it would be inappropriate for me to take credit.”

Some of the “more dramatic fights” he was involved in include restricting fixed surveillance technology downtown. Another, he added, was “my frequent and ongoing fight about continually reminding people that the city of Northampton, and downtown in particular, are a public space … primarily it is our public commons, and we sometimes lose sight about that.”

Dwight also represented the council on the Charter Review Commission.

Former colleagues weighed in on Dwight’s decision to not run again.

“I served with Bill when I was on the council and then when I was mayor. I worked with him on and off for a very long time,” former mayor Clare Higgins said. “He didn’t always agree with the crowd. He also had relationships with people from every corner of Northampton … from the person sitting on a bench downtown to someone out in Ward 6. He had very wide and deep relationships with tons of people throughout the city.”

Former Ward 2 councilor Paul Spector, who was on the council for 12 years until 2015 and worked with Dwight, said, “I think he had a knack for being able to communicate with all people.”

He was “willing to engage with people who felt left out of the political process in the city. That could have been people who were more conservative than the mainstream liberal bent of the city government these days or people who were more progressive on the far left,” Spector said. “Bill also just always seems he’s available to talk to anyone. He’s also available to talk for however long. Sometimes you wanted to get home by 12 o’clock,” he said, remembering meetings going late. Spector added he means it in a “positive and loving way,” he said. “I think he deserves a lot of kudos for the amount of time he put in.”

The remaining months of Dwight’s term will be busy.

“We’re at a significant transitional point,” he said. “Globally, locally, and neighborhood-wise. To that extent, we’re going to have a tough slog through the budget. We’re going to have a dialogue about what actions we’ll be rendering after the Policing Review Commission report is presented.”

Proposed zoning changes are also in the works.

Dwight isn’t sure what comes after being a city councilor. “I don’t have plans,” he said, adding that he lost his job at the Florence Pie Bar amid the pandemic. He is “looking forward to being a citizen.”

He does know he has no plans to go back to a radio show. “Does the radio need another old white guy? I don’t think so,” he said.

When asked if he knew of anyone interested in running for his seat, he said, “there’s been rumors floating around about any number of people.”

He added, “It’s why I felt it was important to do the announcement now. I thought, let everyone know what options are available so that the election season can start to set up.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

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