I feel a sense of obligation and duty to bring a unique voice to the City Council chambers. I represent a younger demographic, which my work throughout North Adams and the surrounding towns has led me to connect and work with closely.
City Councilor Wayne Wilkinson had raised the idea of meeting earlier as the council's meetings crept longer into the evening. With meetings regularly running past 9 and sometimes closer to 10, Wilkinson thought a 6 p.m. start rather than 7:30 would get the councilors and audience out earlier.
The new Rules of Order are a return to past practice in only allowing the public to speak to agenda items at the beginning of the meeting during "hearing of visitors" and keeps the open forum portion at the end of the meeting.
Councilors have been grumbling for some time over having to go through the mayor's office to reach the city solicitor. The changes were implemented earlier this year when the city engaged KP Law of Boston, a firm specializing in municipal law.
The amendments are at the request of Council President Keith Bona, who was elected to the post a the Organization of Government on Jan. 1. Each council president has the option of proposing modifications during their terms.
The meeting was brief with Bona, an eight-term councilor, presiding over his first session and Mayor Thomas Bernard presenting his first orders — reappointments, a donation and a communique on the formation of an ad hoc working group on retail marijuana.
Mayor Thomas W. Bernard and the newly elected City Council took their oaths of office at the well-attended ceremony in City Council Chambers on a frigid New Year's Day. Councilor Keith Bona, returning for his fifth consecutive two-year term, was elected as council president and Councilor Benjamin Lamb as vice president.
Several councilors-elect from North Adams joined other newly elected councilors and aldermen from across the state at a training conference held by the Massachusetts Municipal Councillors Association, a member group of Massachusetts Municipal Association, on Dec. 2 at Framingham State University's Warren Conference Center in Ashland.
Fifteen of the candidates on the ballot for City Council pitched their experience at a forum on Thursday night that focused on crime, infrastructure and how the city's anchor institutions fit into its growth and development.
The candidates, not surprisingly, were in broad agreement on how to address these issues ("ditto" was used several times), although they did take some time during the hourlong forum to try to distinguish themselves from the pack.