Jonathan A. Wright: Narkewicz’s ‘outsized’ skill as Northampton’s leader

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz. Gazette file photo

Published: 12/1/2021 1:30:58 PM

Many remember when David Narkewicz was Northampton City Council president and was uncertain about whether to run for mayor. I am so, so grateful that David did run, and has continued to serve Northampton and the commonwealth with such outsize skill, warmth and dignity.

During David’s terms, so much has been undertaken and accomplished. City finances have been stabilized and made more resilient against considerable odds. David has managed to hire department heads brilliantly in fire, police, schools and public works, and within the mayor’s office. Senior staff have been retained with so much institutional knowledge.

All department have modernized and become easier to access for citizens We have an appropriate and up-to-date police station, and community riverfront access, both of which are generational upgrades. We have an arborist and arbor program that has empowered hundreds to know our street trees better and to treasure them. We have updated city charter.

As viewed from the outside, city government functions exceptionally well. The back-to-back arrivals of casino gambling and cannabis presented significant challenges which David has navigated deftly, for mitigated impacts and enhanced revenue. The intractable national problems of homelessness remain with us, but Northampton remains a welcoming place, and the promise of the planned Resiliency Hub will make a difference.

All of this is against the backdrop of a successful build-out at Village Hill, implementation of a gradual payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, program to support public safety services, and a host of other important projects. His relations with the council have been forthright, exemplary, and dignified.

When I pause to reflect on David’s tenure, I see advocacy and accomplishment at every level. A casual reading of the Gazette will reveal a fraction of the non-business hours that the mayor has been on duty around the city and the commonwealth. And all with so little of the pettiness that plagues public life. Energetic debate, yes, which is good.

I don’t know what the future holds for David, but it will be filled goodness. As for me and so many of us, the lasting gifts, stature and caring of this man will stand for a very long time.

Jonathan A. Wright


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Northampton, MA 01061


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