Easthampton leaders start terms in Fire Department garage

  • Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle speaks during the inaugural ceremony held at the Fire Department. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard swears in city councilors during an inauguration ceremony Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Barbara LaBombard, the Easthampton City Clerk swears in Mayor Nicole LaChapelle during the Inauguration ceremony Monday, Jan. 3 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/3/2022 7:24:30 PM
Modified: 1/3/2022 7:23:52 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and other officials were sworn in on Monday in the vehicle bays of the Easthampton Fire Department in a ceremony that was followed by the election of the city’s first Latino president of the City Council.

The venue was a nod to safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and attendees and those being sworn in were all masked. Other officials were sworn in remotely.

Following her swearing-in to a third term, LaChapelle called attention to the pandemic.

“One in 602 in our county have died from COVID,” LaChapelle said. “Wearing your mask protects other people, but it also may save your life.”

LaChapelle became the first mayor in Easthampton’s history to be sworn in to a four-year-term, as voters adopted four-year-terms for mayor in 2019.

In remarks at the brief ceremony, state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, praised the actions of local officials nationwide, elected and otherwise.

“The folks who run for local office don’t do it for the power or the prestige or the fame,” Carey said. “Local officials preserve and sustain our democracy each day.”

Koni Denham was sworn in as an Easthampton city councilor for the first time in the ceremony.

“I’m looking forward to doing the business of Easthampton citizens and residents,” Denham said.

Salem Derby, meanwhile, was sworn in as a councilor for the 10th time, and he noted that the city has changed a lot over his service as a councilor.

Derby expressed an interest in sustaining the growth that’s been established in the city. He also said that he was late to the swearing-in ceremony because he had to teach a half-day at Northampton High School.

“That’s why I’m still in my gym teacher clothes,” he said.

Following the ceremony, the City Council held an organizational meeting where Homar Gomez was elected City Council president and Derby was elected vice president. Both votes were unanimous.

“It’s a privilege for me,” Gomez said. “I will take this role really seriously.”

Gomez, Easthampton’s first Latino city councilor, also becomes the first Latino council president in the city’s history.

“It means a lot to me,” Gomez said.

He also said it sends a message to the Latino community that they can get involved and have a voice in politics.

Gomez said he will be fair and that his door and phone will always be open to constituents.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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