David Kris announces candidacy for Northampton City Council’s Ward 3 seat


Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2021 4:03:56 PM

NORTHAMPTON – City Councilor Jim Nash of Ward 3 can expect a challenge in November’s election after David Kris entered the race on Friday.

Kris, 30, of Eastern Avenue, said he is running for City Council in part because Northampton is a great place to live, but the cost is becoming unsustainable for renters and low-income residents.

“People love living here, but the big thing I keep hearing is, ‘Hey, my rent’s going up,’ or ‘my landlord’s not honoring things in our contract,’” Kris said. “We need to find whatever tools and mechanisms we can to freeze the cost here.”

Kris graduated from Amherst public schools and studied history at UMass Amherst. He lived in Northampton for about five years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, then spent several months in Southampton during the lockdowns. He returned to Ward 3 last year.

A formerly homeless man, Kris spent about 15 years living throughout the Connecticut River Valley. At the end of high school, he was “living off of school lunches and sleeping on people’s couches.”

“I was able to kind of grind my way through it, but that’s not a policy for houseless folks. Luck isn’t a solution to people’s problems,” he said.

About four years ago, he said he found a job as a cook, worked hard, and became a sous chef.

“People who are struggling with houselessness are not a stereotype. They go to work and go to school, and in the richest country in the world, people shouldn’t have to live in their cars or live on the street,” he said.

Kris wants the city’s landlords to “move away” from requiring first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit in order to move in. He also would like to see changes to tenant background check procedures, plus more investment in public transportation.

Kris is planning a campaign kickoff at Bridge Street School on July 17.

“In the last year or so, I’ve been really inspired, in part by the uprisings of last summer,” said Kris, referring to nationwide unrest following the killings of Black men and women, including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.

He spoke at the June 17 City Council meeting at which the fiscal 2022 budget was approved in an 8-1 vote. The spending plan included a $424,000 allocation for the new Department of Community Care.

Kris said he was disappointed in the outcome of the vote because he, like other advocates, wanted the nascent department’s budget doubled. At the time, some councilors said it was too late to make amendments, but Kris said the higher allocation should have been included far earlier in the process.

“When elected, my plan would be to, as quickly as possible, allocate additional funds to the Department of Community Care,” he said. “This needs to come out of the city budget.”

Candidates for all city offices must submit their nomination papers to the Board of Registrars by July 31 at 5 p.m. In order to appear on the ballot, ward councilor candidates must collect signatures from 50 registered voters who live in Northampton. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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