O’Donnell tapped as president of Northampton City Council

  • Ryan O’Donnell sits down for the first time as the president of the Northampton City Council during an organization meeting Tuesday. GAZETTE STAFF/Bera Dunau

@BeraDunau
Published: 1/2/2018 11:59:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After six years, the Northampton City Council has a new president.

Councilor At-Large Ryan O’Donnell was unanimously elected to the position by the council at its organizational meeting on Tuesday. Previously the body’s vice president, O’Donnell was nominated by Ward 6 Councilor Marianne LaBarge and Ward 5 Councilor David Murphy.

“I’m extremely honored,” said O’Donnell, following the meeting. “Being on the council is probably … the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

First elected as the councilor for Ward 3 in 2013, O’Donnell was elected to the position of councilor at-large in a special election in 2016.

“Because you can work on issues that are important to the entire city,” said O’Donnell, on why he’d chosen to become a councilor at-large.

He also said that he thinks the council can accomplish a lot over the next two years.

The organizational meeting also the saw the unanimous election of Ward 4 Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra to the position of vice president. Sciarra, like O’Donnell, was first elected in 2013.

“I would be honored,” said Sciarra, at the prospect of assuming the vice presidency.

She said she would do her best to foster constructive conversations between various viewpoints.

O’Donnell replaces Councilor At-Large William Dwight, who served in the position for the previous six years. Dwight will remain on the council for the rest of his two-year term. He was also the first councilor to serve as president under the city’s new charter, and his performance in this role was praised fulsomely by his colleagues at the meeting.

“Part of me has a hard time picturing any other council president but Councilor Dwight,” said O’Donnell, praised his predecessor’s sense of moral courage.

Indeed, Sciarra shared that Dwight’s leadership was the prime inspiration for her initial run for City Council. “I will miss you,” said LaBarge, who expressed the belief that Dwight would eventually return to the presidencany .

“We’ve got a lot of work done,” said Ward 3 Councilor James Nash, who also praised Dwight’s engagement with the public.

For his part, Dwight expressed his confidence in both Sciarra and O’Donnell. “I feel comfortable with the leadership and the backup leadership,” he said. “I’m genuinely looking forward to the next two years.”

Dwight has previously stated that not being president will lead to him being “unmuzzled” as a member of the council. Following the organizational meeting he did note, however, that his time as president may have mellowed him out. Nevertheless, he said he was “psyched” for his new role on the council.

“You have both figuratively large and factually large shoes to fill,” said Ward 5 Councilor David Murphy, to O’Donnell, prior to his election.

“Absolutely,” said O’Donnell.

“Crocs,” chimed in Dwight.

O’Donnell then pledged then and there to never wear the laceless footwear.




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