Art Means Business

Local arts and culture non-profits including the Springfield Central Cultural District have asked the candidates for Springfield City Council to answer a brief questionnaire about where they stand regarding arts in our community. 

Please use this information to both inform your vote on September 12 and November 7, but also reach out to candidates and ask them about their responses! It's your community that they represent - stand up for the arts and how it can improve and impact our City.

The candidates were sent a brief introduction, along with a one page informational flyer outlining some of the ways arts and culture organizations contribute to the Springfield economy, and were given two weeks to respond.  We have posted the candidates' responses below.  The questions were as follows: 

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1. Personal Connection
Springfield is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please name two places where you have had personally significant arts and/or cultural experiences. How have these organizations positively affected your life?


2. Addressing Citywide Issues
Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems such as safety in the downtown district?


3. An Arts Destination
While Springfield is growing as a community, the city has yet to fully leverage the strength of our arts, culture, and creative community as a means for branding and attracting residents, employees, and visitors. How would you utilize our community to make Springfield a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit?


4. Your Priorities
When elected, what actions will you take to provide support and resources to the creative community?


At Large City Council Candidates

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Justin Hurst

At Large Incumbent

1. The first arts experience that I can remember was when my older sister brought me to the Springfield Science Museum where my brother and I were able to experience a multitude of exhibits, see animals that I had only read about in books, learn about astronomy in the planetarium, and of course, I can’t forget about the dinosaurs that amazed us when we first entered. I am now able to provide my two sons with a similar experience that I enjoyed as a kid.

In addition to the museums, I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the Harambee that many of our younger children now know to be the Stone Soul Festival. It was a place where people came together to listen to music, eat cultural foods that nourished the soul, shared history and celebrated accomplishments, enjoyed the rides, and fellowshipped with friends and neighbors.

Both of these events created memories to last a life time and reminded me of the rich tradition of Springfield and all that this city has to offer.

2. The more people you have in the downtown area celebrating the arts, culture, and Springfield’s rich history the less likely you will have people frequenting downtown who are up to no good. Whether it is the Jazz or Craft Beer Festivals, performances and shows at Symphony Hall or City Stage, or the Painted Pianos Project and Art Stops, the more we do to bring people downtown the safer residents are going to feel. My goal would be to work with the Springfield Central Cultural District to expand upon the great projects that we already have and identify resources to implement projects that will draw people from throughout the Pioneer Valley to frequent our downtown. I also think it is important to work with the Business Improvement District to ensure that events like Cruise Night, White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays continue to take place.

3. The first thing I would do is work with the Business Improvement District and the Springfield Central Cultural District and its member organizations to encourage them to continue bringing a wide variety of events to our downtown. Springfield has grown tremendously over the last few years when it comes to offering a variety of rich, cultural activities to our Springfield residents and the Pioneer Valley. I would also make sure to include MGM in the discussion as there should be many ways in which the aforementioned organizations can collaborate with MGM to leverage the strength of the arts, culture, and creative economy even more.

4. If a creative economy indeed has all of the economic impacts that the research says it does, then as a City we need to make it a priority to adequately fund the Springfield Central Cultural District to expand on the great work it is already doing. In my four years on the City Council, I have never seen a specific line item dedicated to the arts and it is my intention to lobby the Mayor to included funding for the Springfield Central Cultural District as part of the 2018 budget.

Jynai McDonald

At Large Candidate

1. The Springfield Jazz and Arts festival is an incredible testament to our rich mix of arts and cultural organizations in Springfield. Highlighting musicians, poets, artisans, vendors, and all manner of community participants, there is truly something for everyone. Local dedication and collaboration makes it possible for people from all walks of life to enjoy the downtown area, arts, and culture. By supporting organizations and individuals who have made it possible for the Jazz Festival to continue to expand in fun and exciting ways, we can help ensure a legacy of cultural arts in Springfield for years to come.

Just recently, I had a wonderful experience at the Springfield Museums, watching the solar eclipse with a large crowd of Springfield residents and guests. My campaign manager and I took our lunch break to walk to the Museum, where we enjoyed the large telescopes set up by the Museum, as well as the special eclipse glasses that were given out. Adults and children alike were so excited by the solar eclipse- you could see people sharing glasses and viewing boxes, and generally enjoying being outside together as a community. This is just one small example of the rich additions to our overall city enjoyment that supporting local arts and culture can bring.

2. `By prioritizing arts and culture, we are able change the dynamic of our City – but especially our downtown district. With more people heading outside than ever before to enjoy the events happening in our city, are able to influence the atmosphere in which they take place. Initiatives like the art stops or painted piano projects are crucial – adding color and flair Springfield can restore our vibrant downtown and support new cultural developments. Bringing people out of their homes and into the community is crucial to solving any social perceptions of safety.

In addition, I truly believe by incorporating more programs for music, art, dance, and more in collaboration with the Springfield Public School district, we can encourage a new generation to appreciate arts and culture in Springfield. We have a rich history of cultural institutions, such as the Symphony Hall, City Stage, Springfield Museums and Libraries – I would seek to build a coalition of community partners to support the work of the incredible initiatives we already have, and find ways to identify more sources of revenue to support the expansion of arts and culture programming for our youth in schools. By sharing a passion for music and culture with our youth, we build our children towards the future while giving them somewhere safe to go after school. We should encourage arts festivals on the same scale as adult community gatherings for our children.

3. I would seek to establish a full time cultural arts director, or its equivalent, for our city. While we have devoted and enthusiastic people working on behalf of our downtown space, utilizing a dedicated chief of arts and culture for the entire City would be crucial to establishing branding, which in turns attracts residents and visitors to Springfield. Artists, local institutions, and the downtown districts must be supported not only financially by our city, but patronized and supported in action as well.
I would work closely with the offices of the Mayor, Council, City Planning and Economic Development, as well as the Springfield Business Improvement District and Springfield Central Cultural District to establish a central, branded city calendar. By centralizing information, we are able to share information about upcoming events and opportunities with a wider audience of people.

4. I hope to continue the great work of the Cultural District to recruit and pay artists to continue to bring beauty and art throughout Springfield, and display our City’s rich cultural history. I would be a strong supporter of any proposals that came before the Council requiring funding or publicity to support the efforts of our downtown renaissance.
In addition, I would work with other councilors, city officials, developers, business owners, and more to address stagnant zoning issues in the downtown area to encourage small business owners thrive. According to the SCCD factsheet, the arts truly do mean business – the direct economic impact of the creative economy in Springfield is over $50 million annually. We have valuable space just blocks from our reviving downtown that could be redeveloped or otherwise improved for future use and investments. By working with local partners to identify proper land use of developable parcels, ensuring dedicated investments for further improvements to downtown, and fostering relationships between innovative maker spaces for the community to express themselves - we are able to attract more robust spaces for living, working, and visiting. Springfield is truly blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations.
 

Victor Davila

At Large Candidate

1. I can never forget the majesty of the Springfield Science Museum when I first saw it. The Chinese art exhibit and the Japanese Samurai armor were impressive. I relive these memories every time I visit for the yearly Christmas community party. The Christmas carols, the ginger house displays and the buzzing of people ,make it a special holiday event.

During the summer, I enjoyed the annual Caribbean Parade ending at Blunt Park and become all smiles during the annual Puerto Rican parade, marching from Wasson Ave to Main St downtown. I look forward to the day that the Puerto Rican festival returns to Springfield.

2. We have a serious problem with detracted walkers and drivers. Particularly in the Main St and State St area and in front of the central library. There have been several fatalities and serious injuries. We can look at a creative campaign involving the arts to help address this issue. There have been several fatalities and serious injuries.

3. I have supported Sen. Eric Lesser push for a high speed rail in Springfield. A high speed will help to increase home ownership, increase college enrollment, and overall foot traffic. The multiplying economic effect this would bring to downtown is enticing. We must also work to improve our overall cit transportation system.

We should look at a similar version to Chicopee downtown get down for Springfield. It appears that we may have already developed the raw blueprint for this with the successful White Lion summer events.

4. Arts and culture are a powerful historical reminder for future generations of who we are. I am open to lobby the mayor to create a line item for funding for the SCCD. The economic impact and community pride a strong and vibrant arts, culture and creative economy would bring to the city would me a welcoming change. We must look at Holyoke and see how they are slowly using a creative economy to change and improve downtown.

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Kateri walsh

At Large Incumbent

1. My connection to the Arts started at an early age. My mother was an Art teacher and artist. She instilled in me an appreciation for art and culture.
 
As a mother myself I brought my children and now my grandchildren to Springfield Museums, supported art contests, festival and always supported programming for Art Education

 In my capacity as a Springfield City Councilor, I attend school presentations and Community events including The Community Music School Forums, Springfield Renaissance presentations, Stone Soul Picnic, Mattoon Street Art festival to name a few.

2. For many years, I have had the honor to serve on the Springfield Central Cultural District’s board where I have worked with people of various backgrounds, all dedicated to the renewal of Springfield’s downtown. The Cultural District sponsors dozens of events for the community throughout the year. In sponsoring programs like “Utility Box Paintings,” "Painted Piano Project,” and “Art Stop,” the Cultural District is making the arts and culture more accessible to our entire community, by breaking down traditional barriers for access to the arts—showing everyone that the arts matter. 

This is important for a few reasons: First, studies suggest that children who are exposed to the arts and culture are more likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely to excel in math and science - subjects critical for success in a global economy. Second, the arts and culture are an economic engine for our city. For every public dollar invested in the arts and culture, we receive $7.00 worth of economic output locally. Those are people who visit our museums, eat in our restaurants, and stay in our hotels. The new “Amazing World of Dr. Seuss” at the Quadrangle is estimated to generate $16 million in economic impact for Springfield alone. 
 
Yet for all of our cultural assets, we are not doing enough to highlight the vibrancy that the arts bring to Springfield. We are not investing public dollars in the arts at the same rate as other, similar cities. The arts and culture are not part of our economic development strategy. We do not focus our efforts on the arts in the same way that we focus on new manufactures, tourist destinations, and businesses. In fact, it's the arts and culture that will bring new investment into the city — spurring development and sparking the economic revitalization our city is yearning for. 
 
Exciting things are happening all over Springfield, and as a City Councilor, I’m proud to play a role in Springfield’s renaissance, but we cannot rest solely on the progress that we’ve made. Without infusing the arts and culture into Springfield’s lifeblood we are missing key opportunities for new investments and greater economic development. 

3. Last year, I joined several members of the business, tourism, and arts community to learn about creative place making. Springfield is full of cultural assets just waiting to visited and enjoyed. We’re the home of Dr. Seuss, and a new museum dedicated to his work and life. We have a symphony orchestra, a stage company producing high quality productions, a zoo, and rich parks with beautiful architecture. We need to highlight our assets and make them part of our identity. We should use Basketball and Dr. Seuss as hallmarks of our community, ensuring that people around the world know that Springfield not just the city of firsts – but a city that gave the world memorable characters like Horton, The Cat in the Hat, and the Grinch.

4. On the City Council, I am committed to investing in the arts. I will introduce legislation creating a “percent for the arts” program, requiring one percent of the budget in a publicly funded project to be spent on public art. This model has been successful in other urban centers like Cambridge and Boston and it will be a catalyst for other investments in the city.
 
We need a real strategy for the future, and a dedicated office in City Hall that is responsible for growing a cultural economy. This office will focus on building sustainable, walkable neighborhoods infused with arts and culture that will create a sense of community for all residents. Cabinet level positions like this exist in cities across the country, working to leverage existing cultural assets to spur new development and growth.

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Jesse Lederman

At Large Candidate

1. Some of my earliest memories are visiting the Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle, and participating in Springfield Public Library programming. Today, the many festivals and cultural gatherings that fill Springfield’s summer months come to mind, including the Jazz & Roots Festival, the Mattoon Street Arts Festival, the Caribbean Parade & Festival, and the Stone Soul Festival, which provide endless entertainment, exposure to new experiences, and an opportunity to socialize with friends from across our community. I also sit on the Board of Directors of the Springfield Preservation Trust, which advocates for the protection and restoration of historic homes and buildings, contributing to the culture of our city that is home to some of the largest in-tact historic neighborhoods and buildings in the country. Indeed, these things are some of the best examples of the role the arts play in our community, and highlight the uncommonly large number of opportunities that exist to engage with arts and culture in a city the size of Springfield. They are some of the many reasons I am proud to call Springfield home.

2. I believe that the arts can be indispensible in addressing the local issues that we face in Springfield. I would like to see more support for youth programs related to arts, culture, and theatre, and support for organizations that offer such programming, like The Bing Arts Center. I would also like to see more opportunities for our schools to partner with organizations like this. These activities can provide a safe and beneficial space for our city’s youth. I also believe that creative place-making, which I discuss below, can play a large role in improving safety and the economy through inspiring people to visit and return to different areas of the city.

3. I think that creative place-making can play a significant role in revitalizing community, and drawing people to areas they may not otherwise go, or have not been for a long time, exposing them to the benefits and uniqueness of our many neighborhoods. Places that come to mind that could benefit include Main Street in Indian Orchard, the Springfield Riverfront Park, and the Basketball Monument in Mason Square. An example from another community is the Water Fire event that takes place weekly in Providence, drawing an estimated 350,000 visitors a year to their Downtown. By giving people another reason to come Downtown, they in turn encourage visits to local restaurants and businesses. We are seeing good examples of this already in Springfield, like the weekly White Lion Wednesday and Thunderbird Thursday events. We can build upon events like this in other parts of the city, and draw more visitors from both throughout our own neighborhoods and also from outside the city.

4. I am prepared to be both a partner and a resource for the Springfield Cultural District and the creative community as an At-Large Springfield City Councilor. I am willing to participate in the planning of events, provide letters of recommendation for grant and funding opportunities, and liaison between city departments as necessary. I would also look forward to meeting regularly with representatives of the Springfield Cultural District and other representatives of the creative community to discuss on-going needs and ideas.

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Ernesto Cruz

At Large Candidate

No response submitted

Tim Ryan

At Large Candidate

1. Most recently, I was home watching the Charlottesville, Virginia incident happen on CNN, before heading to the Jazz Roots festival in Court Square. The news from VA was both depressing and demoralizing. I then went downtown for the Jazz fest and it was beautiful on so many different levels. Instead of anger, violence, and hate, my wife and I shared Court Square with hundreds, from all ages and races, and enjoyed some very wonderful performers.

I have attended many shows and concerts in downtown, as well as the Springfield Adult forum and have always found them to be enjoyable and rewarding.

2. I have followed closely the fine work done by John Simpson, both within the 1350 Main Street building and across the face of downtown. The arts do not provide safety in and of themselves, but they create a sense, a vibe, and that leads to more people on the street, more activity, and that makes downtown safer. Recently, I was talking to a 30 year old woman from Holyoke, who stated that the White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays were very nice events and creating some very positive buzz for downtown Springfield.

As to how the arts interact, I have to leave that to the artists, and I just want to work with them moving forward to creating a better downtown, but also getting into the neighborhoods.

3. As noted above, Springfield is generating significant goodwill through the White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays. The Seuss Museum is a real achievement. We need to continue to work on that, draw in the Hoop Hall better, and in a more meaningful manner, so that Springfield is a local, as well as national, attraction.

4. I will solicit the views and opinions of the creative community and work to see what funds are available from the CDBG budget, as well as government grants and assistance to fund deserving initiatives in Springfield.

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Tom Ashe

At Large Incumbent

No Response submitted

Kelli Moriarty-Finn

At Large Candidate

1. I was raised in an arts-centric home. I began studying dance at age 3 and playing trumpet at age 8. During my high school years, I played taps at military funerals for several American Legion Posts in Holyoke. My parents felt strongly that arts were a core component to our education, and were always seeking ways in which we could be further exposed to culture in Western MA. Making the short drive from Holyoke, we often came to Springfield to visit the museums as well as the then Springfield Civic Center and Symphony Hall to see various performances. As a young adult, I always enjoyed the Taste of Springfield, a wonderful event I wish we could resurrect again. As an adult citizen since 2001, I am pleased to enjoy all our city’s venues, and I’m so pleased that many of our cultural events are free to all citizens of Springfield.

2. Safety is not just a ‘downtown’ issue; it is city-wide. Therefore, arts and entertainment activities must take place in every neighborhood. People perceive Springfield as being unsafe, and having few quality neighborhoods; both thoughts are untrue. Our city does face public safety issues, and some neighborhoods are more at-risk than others. But unless we work hard to highlight the cultural diversities and create events to showcase the ‘Cultural Springfield’, this perception will continue to exist, and we cannot afford that to occur.

3. Live, work, play, visit – a wonderful concept that must come to fruition. Certainly events such as White Lion Wednesday and Thunderbird Thursday, along with Cruise Night have gone a long way to keep commuters in Springfield after the workday has completed, but we can do so much more. I’ve stated that as a City Councilor I will advocate for a comprehensive marketing plan for Springfield that encompasses the above – living, working, playing and visiting the City of Homes. We cannot, however, think only in terms of the downtown when we think of Springfield as an arts destination; we must incorporate our 17 neighborhoods and ensure that events occur throughout the city, making art and entertainment accessible to everyone. I’ll advocate for a collaborative effort between neighborhood councils, MGM, the Business Improvement District, and Springfield Central Cultural District to ensure diversity in our cultural offerings.

4. Typically, when people think of the City’s budget, we think of snow removal, pothole repair and items such as those that are services yet lend to a certain quality of life. However, the arts should be included in that grouping. Providing access to quality art and entertainment programs also lends significantly to the quality of life for every citizen in Springfield. While I understand that the city budget must cover a host of essential items, I’d like to see budget dollars appropriated for the support of a yearlong calendar of arts activities within the city. We are very fortunate that several of our largest employers are generous with their sponsorship of events throughout the year, but we must also seek additional funding from our state and local agencies and I will do so as your next City Councilor At-Large.

TracyE Whitfield

At Large Candidate

1. The first place that I remember exposure to the arts was music class in Springfield Public Schools. I chose to play the violin. I was fascinated because I was the only seven-year-old girl and only black person that I knew that played the violin. I felt special and important. At an early age, I learned about responsibility and teamwork. I give partial credit of that to the arts. It was my responsibility to care for the instrument and bring it to every music class. I also had to know my parts and when it was my turn to play. The entire chorus depended on me to sound good. Therefore, I always strived to do my best for them.
In my teenage years, I participated in art and culture programs at community centers like the Boys and Girls Club and MLK. Without those curriculums and funding, I would not have had such opportunities. When I found out that the Dunbar Community Center was in jeopardy of being sold, I knew I had to be part of the solution. I was approached by Ellen Freyman to be on the Forever Dunbar Board in an effort to raise funds to save the Dunbar building. I accepted. She then asked if I would chair the Board. I accepted. The board and the committee showcased a Broadway themed performance on October 2016 called “Broadway Comes to Springfield”. It happened right here in our great city at Center Stage. We raised over $27,000 but netted $9,000. Dunbar has subsequently been bought by Mt. Zion Church. In October, we will donate that money to programming held at the Dunbar.

2. Live music, festivals, plays and movie nights bring people together and change the perception of public safety. Residents feel safe leaving their homes to bond over music and performances. It simply creates a since of community. I will advocate and support programs like the Jazz Fest, art gallery debuts and live entertainment. I will also continue to partner with organizations, like the Dunbar Center, to bring quality programming to underserved youth and families and provide a platform for residents to express themselves through creative art.

3. I believe the arts and social change go hand in hand. Art is a way of expressing ones feeling which can turn into dialogue and over time effect change. Arts and Culture also has a way of shedding positive light on any community. A variety of art and culture activities give our residents positive things to do so they are visible and as a result decrease crime. Studies show that youth involved in the arts and sports do better in school than nonparticipants. As a City Councilor, I will look for area, ideas and programs that change the perception of Springfield and improve the city’s overall state. I will bring the community together to raise awareness about and raise funding for arts and culture programs A.S.A.P. Always Springfield Always Positive!

4. The Creative Community is the bedrock of any society because it helps shape the cultural life and enhances diversity. If elected to City Council, I will increase awareness and be an advocate for programs that uplift the arts and culture. During the City’s Budget review, I will advocate that arts and culture is represented because it touches all aspects of our City. If there is money to increase a stable reserves account, there is money to give to the arts and invest in our city.

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Tim Ryan

At Large Candidate

1. Most recently, I was home watching the Charlottesville, Virginia incident happen on CNN, before heading to the Jazz Roots festival in Court Square. The news from VA was both depressing and demoralizing. I then went downtown for the Jazz fest and it was beautiful on so many different levels. Instead of anger, violence, and hate, my wife and I shared Court Square with hundreds, from all ages and races, and enjoyed some very wonderful performers.

I have attended many shows and concerts in downtown, as well as the Springfield Adult forum and have always found them to be enjoyable and rewarding.

2. I have followed closely the fine work done by John Simpson, both within the 1350 Main Street building and across the face of downtown. The arts do not provide safety in and of themselves, but they create a sense, a vibe, and that leads to more people on the street, more activity, and that makes downtown safer. Recently, I was talking to a 30 year old woman from Holyoke, who stated that the White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays were very nice events and creating some very positive buzz for downtown Springfield.

As to how the arts interact, I have to leave that to the artists, and I just want to work with them moving forward to creating a better downtown, but also getting into the neighborhoods.

3. As noted above, Springfield is generating significant goodwill through the White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays. The Seuss Museum is a real achievement. We need to continue to work on that, draw in the Hoop Hall better, and in a more meaningful manner, so that Springfield is a local, as well as national, attraction.

4. I will solicit the views and opinions of the creative community and work to see what funds are available from the CDBG budget, as well as government grants and assistance to fund deserving initiatives in Springfield.

Ward Candidates

Adam Gomez

Ward 1 Incumbent (unopposed)

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1. Springfield is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please name two places where you have had personally significant arts and/or cultural experiences. How have these organizations positively affected your life?

Growing up in Springfield and being able to represent this district has been a pleasure. Two locations that have been a great experience for me has always been our Museums and Quadrangle, with the opening of our new Dr Seuss Museum is just a great addition. Also just so recently the projects on Beautification of the power boxes by Springfield cultural district were such a great addition to the district. Looking forward to the Mural project that will bring art and humanities back into our neighborhood. These colors and abstract art will had a vibrant feel and an awakening long over due.

2. I believe that since the Jazz Festival, Indie Soul Festival, and also The Springfield Puerto Rican Parade to name a few are just examples that bring cultural awareness are just the great things that already exist. Bringing more culture and creative minds to the Downtown District is really going to show and improve the collaborative efforts of the BID, Springfield Cultural District, TDI, and E3 public safety business committee. As an advocate of all these organizations, our business, and Resident community I see this community flourishing.

3. Continuing working with our downtown metro community ensuring its safety and infrastructure is number one. If our neighborhood isn't safe our visitors and employees will not enjoy the Architecture, Museums, and Future Murals. The light boxes and piano project are just examples on what we have done but what more we could do to implement these art projects.

4. Looking to meet and learn more of their needs. Become more transparent with ideas of not only organizations but our Historic District which exist in our footprint of Downtown Metro. Support innovative projects that create cultural awareness also we can collaboratively seek different streams of funding. Looking to meet and learn more of their needs. Become more transparent with ideas of not only organizations but our Historic District which exist in our footprint of Downtown Metro. Support innovative projects that create cultural awareness also we can collaboratively seek different streams of funding.


Mike Fenton

Ward 2 Incumbent

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1. I can only pick two?! I would have to say the Springfield Museums and the Mattoon Street Arts Festival. As a child my relatives would take me to see the Science Museum regularly and I was always impressed with the exhibits. As an adult, I return to the museums frequently when family is visiting from out of town or there is a fundrasier which I attend. I never miss the museums gala. It's a great opportunity to help the museums raise money and to see what's new in the Quadrangle. The Mattoon Street Arts Festival is an event that I've attended for the last several years. It's an amazing gathering of Springfield supporters and creative talent. It's one of my favorite events of the year.

2. I voted to support the creation of the Cultural District and I will continue to do so through advocacy for support and funding. Bringing the Cultural District into the fold with projects such as the mural program have assisted in beautifying our downtown and made more people feel comfortable when they spend time there. I want to help the Cultural District continue to do good work such as this.

3. Enlisting the assistance of artists to help with our downtown renaissance is critical. I want to get more artists involved in public art displays and using public and vacant space to display our City's rich cultural history. We have already done quiet a bit of this work with the revival of "The Marketplace."

4. I will continue to support the Cultural District through funding and the sponsorship of the BID. I will patronize the museums and support their programming as I always have. I will fight to utilize city resources, where appropriate, to assist with facilitating the efforts of the creative community. (E.g. assistance with more accessible public parking for the museums, provide opportunities for public art displays, encourage streamlined permitting for arts festivals and cultural events in the downtown.)

Kency Gilet

Ward 2 Candidate

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1. I was blessed to walk in the Holyoke St Patrick’s Day Parade with my company, River Valley Counseling. It’s one thing to watch the parade, but to walk and feel connected to a waving child standing with their family was personally rewarding. To have that experience happen over and over again is an experience I won’t soon forget. I was able to see the diversity of our communities and our ability to celebrate together a culture that has so heavily influenced our communities.

I attended the International 2016 Women’s Day Celebration hosted by AfriKque Limited with my daughter. This charity event benefited woman who are hungry, homeless, and poor. It also highlighted the talents, the strength and resiliency of women. My daughter, Ally, and I were blown away be the songs, dances, and spoken word performed by women of all ages and varied cultural backgrounds. We were also exposed to the different foods from local vendor and clothing from nations we haven’t even heard of. I’m happy I was able to share this experience with my daughter because we both learned that there is so much more to learn about people and that she (my daughter) is so special in her own way.

2. We have already begun to see art being used downtown as murals go up on electrical transformers on the sidewalks. My focus is to empower Springfield families to shape their own measure of success and happiness. In that vein, I want to ensure that each of our city departments are culturally sensitive to the backgrounds of employees and residents. That means being understanding of significant dates that someone of a particular culture or religion may observe and providing them the ability to celebrate without harm to their position or pay. This will ensure our city attracts a culturally diverse workforce, which in turn empowers our diverse teen population to aspire to positions of leadership.

3. There is a large number of college-aged students in our city during the school year. By hosting more shows, festivals related to the arts we could attract young adults to stay and put roots down in Springfield. The ongoing complaint I hear from my patients who are trying to structure their free time is that there are not enough artistic and musical events within Springfield. There is a strong interest among the young adults entering the workforce here to move to a thriving and entertaining city. I want to rebrand Springfield as the artistic and cultural mecca of Central and Western Mass. We have the talent; we just need to provide the venues and opportunities.

4. Part of my platform to reduce crime and violence, particularly within the teen populations, includes having safe and fun venues for teens to congregate in the evening. This includes using school buildings for open gyms, music and art related space to host events such as ‘Teen Open Mic nights’ and community talent shows. I want to provide a platform for our creative neighbors to shine and grow. This is an immediate priority for me. I will pursue grants and partnerships with other city departments and leaders on Beacon Hill to make this possibility a reality.


Melvin Edwards

Ward 3 Incumbent

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1. Growing up in Springfield, one of my elementary schools was Cathedral Grammar on Elliot St. Because of the proximity of the Quadrangle and National Armory Historic Site I was quite often found spending time after school at one of these two sites. These museums became safe places for me to spend time and to learn about art, science, and history.

2. I believe people who could be described as irresponsible, or those who would make bad choices are most likely to behave and be respectable in areas where large groups of people congregate. Creating venues for families and responsible people to gather and be engaged with cultural events, food and entertainment will help address public safety and draw disposable income to our Main St.

3. Our plan must be multi-facetted. We need to continue to address public safety and the perception that we are unsafe. We need clean, well lit streets, and a reduction in both commercial and residential taxes. Our schools must improve and we must find a way to create more collaborations with our local schools of higher education. The delivery of city services must be improved and our leaders must be more responsive to the concerns of citizens. Finally, I would suggest we reclaim our pride, re-brand our message, and refocus our energies on promoting our positives.

4. I will continue to support the work and funding of the Community Preservation Committee. I intend to maintain my seat on the Springfield Preservation Trust, Springfield Armory Alliance, and my involvement as president of Keep Springfield Beautiful. As an elected official, it is my duty to be a steward of the taxpayer's dollars and to be an advocate for all things to benefit the city, including resources for the creative community.

Kevin Dumpson 

Ward 3 Candidate

No Response Submitted


E. Henry Twiggs

Ward 4 Incumbent

No Response Submitted

Robert Kelly

Ward 4 Candidate

No Response Submitted


Marcus Williams

Ward 5 Incumbent (Unopposed)

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1. The Springfield Armory is an earlier example of a significant cultural experience that I was blessed to have growing up. I can recall visiting the museum as a middle school student and learning about how the Armory was at the center of gun manufacturing during the Revolutionary War. It was during the tour that I learned of Springfield’s geographical advantages during a time of war and how our City played a major role in the spawning of the Industrial Revolution. The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History is also rich is cultural artifacts. As a more recent site I have visited, having the opportunity to learn about the creation of the first motorcycle or the first Friendly’s restaurant, should make us all proud to be from where we are.

2. As a City, I do believe we are making strides in transforming the downtown district to be a place where people can frequent for a number of cultural attractions. In realizing that increased foot traffic means more people, the City has begun to implement initiatives such as Complete Streets which aim to enhance pedestrian safety measures. Private and municipal organizations, in complementing plans to revitalize the downtown corridor, have also begun making efforts to beautify the area by hanging flower beds or picking up litter. In championing the Mobile Food Truck Ordinance that allows for two congregations of food trucks in the downtown district, the Young Professional subcommittee worked closely with city departments, including the SPD, to ensure late night crowding was minimized. As a Councilor in my second term, I will continue to support programs and organizations that advocate for bike lanes, public art showcases, mobile food truck festivals, and City tours that show off Springfield’s rich cultural assets.

3. As a City, I do believe we are making strides in transforming the downtown district to be a place where people can frequent for a number of cultural attractions. In realizing that increased foot traffic means more people, the City has begun to implement initiatives such as Complete Streets which aim to enhance pedestrian safety measures. Private and municipal organizations, in complementing plans to revitalize the downtown corridor, have also begun making efforts to beautify the area by hanging flower beds or picking up litter. In championing the Mobile Food Truck Ordinance that allows for two congregations of food trucks in the downtown district, the Young Professional subcommittee worked closely with city departments, including the SPD, to ensure late night crowding was minimized. As a Councilor in my second term, I will continue to support programs and organizations that advocate for bike lanes, public art showcases, mobile food truck festivals, and City tours that show off Springfield’s rich cultural assets.

4. When I am elected, I will certainly be willing to offer my grants lens to the creative community as I’ve done in years prior. Individuals know that resources exist to support their work but sometimes have difficulty framing their argument to secure funding. As a grants writer in my professional career, I am poised to be of help to those needing advice. On the City Council, I will continue to vote to accept grants secured by the City that improve our cultural and innovative appeal. I am also prepared to more actively support our havens in the downtown district that sometimes get a bad rap because of isolated crime incidences, such as nightclubs. With more visitors bound to the City, we must make a better effort to be culturally sensitive in describing such businesses that patrons of all races frequent to unwind. Nightclubs are not breeding grounds for criminals no more than your local pizza shop or barbershop is and revitalizing any downtown district requires positive promotion to retain the businesses we do have while also attracting newer businesses. The creative community in Springfield is expansive and includes anyone who plays a role in attracting individuals here to experience what the City has to offer. As a member of this community, I will make it a point to first frame Springfield as the culturally-rich destination it should be framed as while standing up to generalizations and stereotypes that only impede people from wanting to participate in the City’s offerings.


Ken Shea

Ward 6 Incumbent (Unopposed)

No Response Submitted


Tim Allen

Ward 7 Incumbent (Unopposed)

No Response Submitted


Orlando Ramos

Ward 8 Incumbent (Unopposed)

No Response Submitted