Social worker 1st to announce for Ward 1 council seat in Northampton

  • Emily Coffin, who goes by Lemy, is the first to announce intention to run for Ward 1 seat on the City Council. The seat is up for grabs in the Nov. 2 municipal election after current Ward 1 councilor, Michael Quinlan, announced plans to run for an at-large seat on the council. SUBMITTED PHOTO


Staff Writer
Published: 5/10/2021 8:31:20 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A social worker who has lived in the city for nine years is the first to announce intentions to run for the Ward 1 seat on the City Council being vacated by incumbent Michael Quinlan.

Emily Coffin, who goes by Lemy, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Smith College. Coffin now works as a family therapist and care coordinator at Center for Human Development.

“I want to be on the City Council because I love Northampton, and I am excited to build relationships with constituents in Ward 1 to foster governance that allows for everyone in Northampton to thrive and grow,” Coffin’s website reads.

Quinlan is leaving the position to make a run for an at-large seat on the council in November’s municipal election.

“My priorities with the council are deepening relationships with people who live here — and all sort of people who live here — so increasing accountability with residents, increasing representation on commission, committees and boards, and also getting more participatory structures like participatory budgeting,” said Coffin, 26, who lives on Barrett Street.

“I would love to integrate racial justice perspectives, similar to how we integrate environmental perspectives, in every project and policy we plan,” they said.

Some other areas of focus are increasing accessible and affordable housing, maximizing access to outdoor spaces for everyone, and including more people in local government. “I love thinking about how to make systems more accessible and healthy overall,” Coffin said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity to do that in municipal governments.”

Coffin also has been involved in Northampton Abolition Now, an activist group, and expressed support for the Policing Review Commission and its report.

“Deep thinking went into that report,” Coffin said. “So I would hope that the City Council and the city can take that report and take it in good faith … I definitely feel committed to doing the best we can with council, if I do get on, to support that work.”

Coffin is also interested in making sure the proposed resilience hub — a facility that would support residents who face chronic and acute stress, such as those who are homeless, a project that the mayor has said is one of his top priorities — is accountable to the people it serves. “I’m curious about how to continue the evolution of the Resilience Hub to be for unhoused folks and not just for people in Northampton who don’t want to see unhoused folks downtown,” they said.

City elections are scheduled for Nov. 2, and if necessary, a preliminary election will be held on Sept. 28.

Coffin is planning a meet and greet event on May 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Childs Park at the corner of Jackson and Prospect streets.

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