Easthampton’s Owen Zaret seeks second term on City Council  

  • Easthampton City Councilors Owen Zaret, left, and Thomas Peake attend the first day of recreational pot sales at INSA on Dec. 22. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Easthampton City Councilor Owen Zaret GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/11/2019 4:21:46 PM

EASTHAMPTON — At-large City Councilor Owen M. Zaret has announced his candidacy for re-election to a second term and is holding a campaign kickoff event on Friday.

“I want to make sure everyone’s voice is included in government,” Zaret, 45, said Tuesday.

“As I’ve gained experience, I feel like I can facilitate that more,” said Zaret, a 20-year city resident. His campa ign will include listening sessions during July and August to hear constituents’ concerns and priorities for Easthampton.

The kickoff event will take place at the Nashawannuck Pond promenade Friday from 6 to 7 p.m., and will include the shaved ice cream truck, Chill Out, and a “surprise” performance, according to the Committee to Elect Owen Zaret.

In March 2018, the City Council passed a resolution, introduced by Zaret, in support of a new prekindergarten through eighth grade school. The resolution stated that because of the declining conditions of the city’s three, century-old elementary schools and White Brook Middle School, building a new school was necessary for the city.

Two months later, Easthampton voters approved a debt-exclusion override to authorize borrowing for the new school by a margin of nearly 15 percent and the city was recently issued a $50 million bond for the project. The new school, to be built on the site of White Brook, is expected to open in the fall of 2021.

“It felt very important to get the school built,” Zaret said.

The financial impact that the tax increase will have on the city’s senior population, in particular, has to be considered, he added.

“There are many in the older community that have spent all their lives, and sometimes multiple generations, in Easthampton,” Zaret said. “We are thrilled to advance in the city, but it’s not a success if we can’t keep everyone here.”

During his first term, Zaret also introduced a resolution to the City Council in May 2018 that asked the city to set aside a significant amount of revenue from recreational marijuana sales for tax relief, but the resolution failed in the council’s rules and government relations subcommittee. 

To help address the needs of the senior population, Zaret said he is working to form a group called Easthampton Neighbors, with the goal of creating a network of volunteers to help residents 55 and over age in place. 

Other resolutions introduced by Zaret and adopted by the council include an October 2018 resolution in support of Question 3 on the November ballot, which was to retain the state’s anti-discrimination public accommodations law, and an April 2019 resolution to increase gun safety education in the city.

Zaret said he has been a lifelong ally of the LGBTQ community and has worked to foster inclusivity in Easthampton.

He organized the city’s first contingent for this year's Noho Pride Day parade, formed the Easthampton Pride Committee, and encouraged Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle to write a proclamation in support of Pride Month and to raise the pride flag over city hall. 

“We are sending a clear and open message to the entire community that we are taking a stand for what the city stands for,” Zaret said. “Being able to march (at Pride) and showing we support the community … It’s a clear signal of what we stand for and broadcasting those values.” 

Nomination papers for city councilor and mayor will be available beginning July 1. 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com. 




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