LaChapelle eyes another 4 years as Easthampton’s mayor

  • NICOLE LACHAPELLE

Published: 6/11/2021 9:14:58 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Mayor Nicole LaChapelle will run for a third term in the coming municipal election, setting her sights on four more years as the city’s mayor.

For the first time, the next mayoral term will be for four years, rather than two. LaChapelle, 54, is only the third mayor to serve in Easthampton. No other candidates have publicly announced plans to run for the office.

In an interview Thursday, LaChapelle said she hopes to continue working on initiatives such as affordable housing, redevelopment of former mill and school properties, and increasing equity in economic development.

“I really want to continue this work and push things forward and set Easthampton on the path that residents have said they want to see,” LaChapelle said.

“COVID certainly slowed that down,” she said, “so I’m looking for hopefully four more years if the voters are amenable.”

While the city has used federal and state funding sources to assist with housing throughout the pandemic, LaChapelle said increasing the availability of affordable housing must remain a focus in the coming years.

“I think no one is fooled that, as we come out of this pandemic, it’s not that everyone’s salary goes up to what it was,” LaChapelle said.

Additionally, she anticipates that services such as child care and health care will increasingly burden residents.

Continuing development at the 310,000-square-feet 1 Ferry St. mill complex, which includes some affordable housing units, is a “very big priority,” LaChapelle said, and remains an ongoing goal from her first mayoral campaign.

A private developer is renovating the old mill buildings as part of a $45 million project while the city makes road and utility upgrades in the area. Last summer, part of the complex, known as 3 Ferry St., opened to commercial and resident tenants and was fully leased as of January.

Three city elementary schools — Maple Elementary, in addition to Center and Pepin elementary schools — are also pegged for redevelopment, though their future uses have yet to be decided. The new Mountain View School, which is under construction, is on track to accommodate students from the older elementary schools next year.

During LaChapelle’s time in office, the city launched its Blueprint Easthampton program in 2019, which focuses on encouraging entrepreneurship and microenterprises.

“There are many things we need to look at and address as a city, a state and a region around equity,” LaChapelle said, “and for me, the glaring equity gaps are just going to get more dramatic.”

LaChapelle was first elected in 2017, following former mayors Michael Tautznik and Karen Cadieux. At the time, she ran against Joy E. Winnie, a 21-year member of the City Council, winning with about 54% of the overall vote. An attorney and 20-year Easthampton resident at the time, LaChapelle had not previously held elected office. LaChapelle ran uncontested in 2019.

Residents voted to extend the mayoral term from two to four years in 2019.

LaChapelle plans to hold a signature-gathering campaign kickoff event on July 1 on the patio of The Boylston Rooms at 122 Pleasant St. 

Candidates for elected office in Easthampton can take out nomination papers beginning July 1, and have until Sept. 19 to return these papers with enough signatures. The city election will be held on Nov. 7.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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