Foster throws hat in ring for Northampton’s Ward 2 council seat

  • Karen Foster, right, is seen with her wife, April Cannon, and their two sons, Jesse, left, and Gavin. Contributed Photo—Contributed Photo

  • Karen Foster is running for Northampton’s Ward 2 City Council seat. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2019 11:38:10 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Karen Foster is running for the Ward 2 seat on the Northampton City Council, and she wants to make sure that underrepresented voices are heard.

Foster said that a friend told her about the practice of looking around a room where decisions are being made, and seeing who is not represented.

“That’s really something that guides me as I move through the world,” said Foster.

Foster, 41, moved to Northampton with her wife, April Cannon, a little less than two years ago when their oldest son was about to start kindergarten. Their sons, Jesse and Gavin, are now 7 and 4.

“This is where we wanted to raise our kids,” said Foster.

Foster cited Northampton being a community that comes together around progressive values, the independence she sees in older children and opportunities both for children and adults as reasons for their choice. However, this is not Foster’s first time living in Northampton, as she lived here from 2004 to 2007, and she remained in the area after, first living in Easthampton and then Belchertown. Her work is also Northampton-based.

“I’ve been working in Northampton for a long time,” she said. “It’s always been home, even when I lived in neighboring communities.”

Foster has worked as the executive director of All Out Adventures since 2007, a Northampton nonprofit that offers outdoor recreation programs to seniors, veterans and the disabled.

“I think my current job has given me a really open window into groups that are marginalized,” said Foster, who began working for the organization in 2004.

Affordable housing is one of the issues Foster is running on, saying that the only reason she initially moved out of Northampton was to purchase a home in a more affordable community, namely Easthampton.

Foster said she wants the city to continue with traffic-calming measures and improving access to bike paths. She also expressed an interest in looking at the issue of snow removal from sidewalks, particularly noting its effect on those in wheelchairs.

“People who use wheelchairs can’t get around on our sidewalks very frequently,” she said. “That’s something I’d like to dive into.”

She also said she would like to see Northampton continue to lead on social and environmental issues, such as the plastic bag ban. And she said that she would advocate for and draw attention to the schools.

“I really believe in public education and supporting the schools,” Foster said.

She said that several people approached her to run for the Ward 2 seat, and that she’s had coffee dates and chats with people about her candidacy.

“The feedback I’ve been hearing has been really positive,” she said.

The Ward 2 seat is being vacated by Dennis Bidwell, and Foster said Bidwell has offered to have those interested in running reach out to him. She said their conversation, where they discussed what went into being a councilor, was a good one.

“He was so gracious,” said Foster.

In addition to Bidwell, Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa Klein and At-Large City Councilor Ryan O’Donnell are not seeking re-election, while Ward 4 City Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra is running for at-large city councilor.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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