Race shapes up for Easthampton City Council at-large positions

  • A race is shaping up for the four at-large positions on Easthampton’s City Council. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

@kate_ashworth
Published: 7/13/2017 10:11:13 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Two political newcomers have signaled they will run for at-large seats on the City Council, setting up a contested race with three the board’s incumbents.

Owen Zaret, 43, and Jared Hinkle, 38, took out nomination papers this week and are working on gathering the 100 signatures needed to have their names placed on the ballot for the November election. No more than 25 signatures can come from a single precinct.

Incumbents Joseph McCoy, Margaret “Peg” Conniff and Daniel Carey have all pulled papers for an at-large seat, while at-large councilor Tamara Smith will not run for re-election.

The nine-member council includres four at-large seats and five precinct positions.

Zaret, a physician assistant at Holyoke Medical Center, is originally from Connecticut and has lived in Easthampton for 17 years. He is married and has an 8-year-old daughter. In his spare time, he brews beer.

When it comes to serving the city, Zaret said he thought about joining the School Committee and becoming involved with the pre-K through eighth grade consolidated school building project, but found he had more interests in the city.

“My love for the city is a little more broad than the schools,” he said.

As a health care provider, Zaret said he would like to look into ways to bring accessible, community-based health care — including an urgent care center — to the city. He also wants to explore options for mental health practices and a place where residents can go to get blood drawn.

Hinkle is originally from Arizona and has lived in Easthampton for eight years. He is married with four children, coaches baseball and is a Cub Scout leader.

He was a corrections officer for about two years and served in the military for seven years. He was stationed in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart. He currently works as a shift maintenance supervisor for a trucking company in Springfield.

“I chose Easthampton because of the small-town feeling,” Hinkle said about moving to the area. “I want to make sure those values are being kept in Easthampton.”

Hinkle said he wants to focus on promoting local business in Easthampton. As a parent, Hinkle has been following the school consolidation project and believes a new school is more cost efficient than renovating existing schools.

Other council races

In addition to the four at-large positions, Precinct 5’s Daniel Rist has taken out nomination papers to run again, and James “JP” Kwiecinski of Precinct 1 said he plans to do the same.

In Precinct 3, longtime councilor Joy E. Winnie will give up her seat to run for mayor. Councilors Salem Derby of Precinct 4 and Jennifer Hayes of Precinct 2 could not be reached.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.




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