Issues and Record
Leading Northampton has been an incredible honor and I am extremely grateful for the support I have received since being re-elected to a second term in 2013. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with people from all over the community to address the challenges and opportunities we face as a city.
I am proud of my record as Mayor of Northampton. Whether it's stabilizing city and school budgets, repaving our streets, increasing government transparency, investing in affordable housing, creating new transportation options for seniors, or rebuilding Pulaski Park, we've accomplished so much since you first elected me on a platform of positive change and moving our great city forward.
Please give me your vote on November 7, 2017 and I will continue to work hard every day to advance these and other important issues.
As Mayor, David has managed our tax dollars wisely and built stable budgets by:
- developing the city’s first multi-year Fiscal Stability Plan in June 2013. This plan, which David has updated annually as part of the budget process, has been the backbone of the city’s financial planning strategy guiding decisions related to operating costs, collective bargaining, and capital planning.
- rebuilding the city's depleted reserves for emergency and unforeseen expenses, as well as to fund capital investments. When David took the oath of office in January of 2012, Northampton general fund reserves certified at the start of FY2012 totaled $695,428. Six years later at the start of FY2018, Northampton general fund reserves total $8,281,855 which has translated into fiscal security together with lower capital borrowing costs as a result of the city's improved bond rating.
- upgrading the city's bond rating through prudent planning, tight financial controls, and fiscal discipline. When David first took the oath of office in January of 2012, the city’s bond rating was with Standard and Poors was A+. With a strategic and concerted effort to build reserves, implement multi-year budgeting and make management efficiencies, the city’s bond rating has been upgraded two times since 2012; first in February of 2014 with an upgrade to AA+ and then again in May of 2016 with an upgrade to AAA – the highest rating on the Standard and Poor's scale. Northampton is one of only 61 communities in Massachusetts that has achieved a triple AAA bond rating with Standard and Poors putting Northampton in the top 17% of communities for financial management and strength.
- creating efficiencies in city government to ensure better, more effective delivery of service to residents and businesses. David has brought in outside experts when needed to help him study and streamline workflow by merging departments including parking and facilities, treasurer and collector, and most recently our city and school IT departments. Many of these changes have resulted in both cost savings to the taxpayer AND improved customer service.
David Narkewicz has been a champion of Northampton's public schools for over 20 years. Long before becoming a city councilor or mayor, David served on the board of the Northampton Education Foundation (NEF) helping raise thousands of dollars to support our public schools as well as establishing a multi-million dollar NEF Endowment Fund. Both of his daughters attended Bridge Street School, JFK, and Hamp High, where he was an active parent, volunteer, and community advocate. David understands that maintaining excellent public schools to serve the educational needs of all our children is a critical investment for Northampton and he has translated that into action and tangible results in his roles as Mayor, Chair of the Northampton School Committee, and a Trustee of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
As Mayor, David has worked tirelessly to support excellent public schools by:
- developing a multi-year fiscal stability plan that gave local tax payers the confidence to support a 2013 general operating override providing an additional $1 million to our schools and preventing the projected layoff of 15 full-time teachers and educational program cuts. With the implementation of David's multi-year plan, the schools have sustained stable budget increases for the following four budget years to both strengthen and enhance learning in classrooms across the city.
- increasing funding for the Northampton Public Schools by over 20% in his 6 city budgets (FY2013-FY2018) together with significant increases to our city's second school district, Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
- expanding capital investment in our schools by allocating almost $10 million dollars for critical upgrades in energy efficiency, security, technology, libraries and textbooks, athletic facilities, cafeterias, and transportation. Working with the School Committee and City Council, David secured almost $2 million in state assistance to pay for more than half the cost of needed school roof replacements at Leeds, Bridge Street, and Ryan Road elementary schools.
- being a recognized statewide leader in his advocacy for needed reforms to state education funding formulas and the charter school funding system. David has testified on these issues before both the Legislature and the Massachusetts Foundation Budget Review Commission and was an outspoken opponent of Question 2 and Governor Baker's plan to expand charter schools without fixing the funding formula that has been harmful to the Northampton public schools.
working closely with Superintendent John Provost to identify and implement operational efficiencies and eliminate duplicative city and school functions. This includes the recent merger of city and school information technology departments into a combined city/school Information Technology Services (ITS) department that creates fiscal savings while providing improved technology services in our city offices and school classrooms.
securing authorization from the School Committee and City Council to sell two former elementary school buildings (Florence Grammar and Feiker School) to both eliminate their unnecessary maintenance and capital liability and to generate a combined $612,600 in sales revenue that David quickly allocated to funding school roof projects at our existing elementary schools.
David has worked hard during his tenure as mayor to make our city government more open, to bring more people into the process, and to ensure that public engagement and input is an important part of our decision-making as a community. Almost immediately after taking office, David began using technology to communicate with residents whether through his own use of social media or through a complete overhaul of the city's website and the creation of City of Northampton Facebook and Twitter accounts. He has built upon those efforts each year to ensure that his mayoral administration leads the most transparent and inclusive government in Northampton history.
As Mayor, David has made city government more open, transparent, and inclusive by:
- redesigning the City of Northampton website to make it more user-friendly and provide 24/7 citizen access to meeting notices, financial info, bids and contracts, departments and schools, online bill payment, and thousands of public documents. Northampton received an award for its then-new website in 2015 from the Mass Municipal Association.
- incorporating public forums and information sessions into all major policy and project decisions from the successful Revisioning Pulaski Park process to neighborhood meetings about new development projects to town hall budget meetings held around the city. David has made gathering public input and feedback a cornerstone of his Administration's decision-making process whether in his office or throughout city departments.
- ensuring fiscal transparency by providing online access to budget documents, outside audits, bond rating reports, employee salaries and creating interactive tools like "Open Checkbook" and "Visual Budget" that allow residents to track individual spending and see what their taxes and fees fund.
- launching first-ever City of Northampton Facebook and Twitter accounts to push out information to city residents 24/7 on these popular social media platforms.
- revamping the appointment process to city committees, boards, and commissions by creating online application, updated listings of vacancies, and by recruiting and appointing dozens of new residents to serve on these important advisory and policy-making bodies, including more women and minorities.
- securing a $50,000 grant with Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) to work on engaging people too often left out of traditional planning processes, develop capacity among underrepresented leaders to actively participate in local government, and develop ways to improve citizen participation in local government.
The key to the strength and resiliency of Northampton's economy are the many locally-owned businesses that fill our downtowns and industrial areas. David has made supporting those businesses and encouraging new ones to open and expand in our city a top priority of his administration. A strong Northampton economy provides jobs, supports additional business and housing investment, and expands our tax base.
As Mayor, David has worked to support local businesses and promote economic development by:
- focusing the city's economic development efforts on providing support to local businesses, working with potential new businesses and developers to assist them in locating here, and collaborating with key business stakeholders like the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Northampton Association (DNA), and the Florence Civic and Business Association. David has standing regular meetings with the leadership of all three organizations.
- making strategic public investments in housing and infrastructure to leverage private investments in Northampton including Pulaski Park, $2.5 million MassWorks grant for Pleasant Street improvements, and investments in public safety, parking, and public utility infrastructure.
- working with the Florence Civic and Business Association on issues affecting downtown Florence, including parking, street furniture, new development, and parks. David successfully collaborated with the Association on a public-private partnership between the Florence Mercantile and DPW to make improvements to Trinity Row Park including a new working fountain, flagpole, benches, pavers, and other landscaping improvements.
- defending our city's economic security against the MGM Springfield gaming casino. David was a vocal opponent of casino gaming as a Massachusetts economic development strategy and commissioned a study by Camoin Associates that identified potential negative impacts on Northampton's retail, dining, and arts and entertainment economy. David used that study to apply for "surrounding community" status and testified before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on behalf of Northampton. The Commission voted against our request, but this summer David filed a new "community mitigation" application and after testifying before them again was awarded $100,000 to create a marketing plan to ensure casino visitors know about Northampton as a regional destination.
- commissioning a comprehensive study of downtown Northampton parking that included public surveys and forums seeking input from residents and merchants. Using results of that study, David has made systematic improvements to our downtown parking system including an upgraded parking garage system that accepts credit and debit cards, extended time on Main Street and adjacent lots, new kiosks that accept credit and debit cards, a smartphone app that allows people to pay for parking on their phone, and other improvements designed to improve the customer experience for residents and visitors alike.
- convening meetings of downtown stakeholders following the legal dissolution of the Northampton BID to help chart a new course forward for that involved both BID supporters and opponents. David worked with stakeholders and the chamber to create the new Downtown Northampton Association (DNA) and committed the city as a major partner and took over downtown cleaning and maintenance responsibilities previously carried out by the BID.
- filing special legislation on behalf of Northampton restaurants and hotels owners to help them obtain liquor licenses currently not available under our state's antiquated, post-Prohibition alcohol laws.
The successful redesign and renovation of Pulaski Park is one of David's proudest accomplishments as Mayor of Northampton. Creating inviting green spaces for residents to relax and come together, enjoy nature, and play is the mark of a great city and our new Pulaski Park not only meets that criteria but it also represents a significant economic development investment in our downtown. We can be all be proud of Pulaski Park, but we've also celebrated the opening of other public park and recreations spaces over the last four years including Florence Fields and the Connecticut River Greenway Riverfront Park.
As Mayor, David has invested in our public parks and recreation spaces by:
- commissioning an open and inclusive public design process for "Reenvisioning Pulaski Park" that sought input from community stakeholders on the first major renovation of our city's 1+ acre downtown park since 1976.
- securing $800,000 in state PARC grants to supplement local CPA funding for phases I & II of the Pulaski Park renovation project.
- constructing the 24.4 acre Florence Fields recreation complex providing multi-use fields for youth baseball, soccer, field hockey, etc. with pavilion and storage. The city utilized state PARC grants together with local CPA to create these much-needed fields, which feature solar panels, an onsite well for watering, and organic maintenance.
- constructing the Connecticut River Greenway Riverfront Park off Damon Road to provide much-needed river access for kayaks, and other non-motorized craft. Secured state funding, donated land, and partnered with Northampton Rowing Club to make this beautiful new facility a reality.
- securing state funding to construct new children's playground structures at Lampron Park (at Bridge Street School) and Florence Fields. Partnering with the Jackson Street PTOs and Bridge Street PTOs to make major playground renovations at their respective schools. Partnering with League Legends on construction of outdoor basketball courts at Ryan Road Elementary School.
- launching the city's "unloved spaces" initiative to both test and create tiny "parklets" in small spaces where opportunities for creating green space, including the Amber Lane parklet, Pleasant Street/Hockanum Road parklet, newly approved Roundhouse building parklet, and others being tested.
David is committed to keeping Northampton affordable for residents at every rung of the economic ladder, including those who are struggling economically and seniors living on a fixed income. His work stabilizing our budget has served the dual purpose of maintaining critical city and school services while putting off tax and fee increases unless absolutely necessary. David's administration has partnered with agencies like the Valley CDC, WayFinders, Inc., Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity ,and the state's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to advance the city's goals of creating and maintaining affordable housing opportunities for our residents.
As Mayor, David has worked to keep Northampton affordable by:
- investing in affordable housing projects using both Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Community Preservation Act (ACT), and other state and federal grants needed to fund or leverage the development of additional housing for working families and individuals.
- implementing new tiered water and sewer rates in response to concerns from seniors and low-income residents about revenue increases needed to fund future capital projects. David worked with an outside consultant to develop a more equitable rate structure based on water consumption by small and large users as well as building in low-income relief and incentives for water conservation.
- launching the Northampton senior and veteran tax work-off program allowing eligible residents to obtain a reduction in their property tax bill in exchange for volunteer service to our city, schools, and libraries.
- working closely with organizations like Hampshire County Friends of the Homeless, ServiceNet, and Western Mass Network to End Homelessness to fund and support local and regional efforts at providing shelter and permanent housing for homeless individuals and families.
One of David's top priorities as Mayor has been ensuring the safety and security of both city residents and the thousands of visitors who make Northampton a vibrant economic and cultural destination. As the city's Chief Executive Officer, he has worked closely with our Police Department, Fire Rescue Department, and Emergency Dispatch to ensure that our public safety team has the resources, training, and equipment it needs to protect and serve the residents of Northampton.
As Mayor, David Narkewicz has worked to strengthen public safety by:
- appointing Police Chief Jody Kasper and Fire Rescue Chief Duane Nichols, two experienced, well-respected public safety leaders who have set high standards for professionalism, integrity, and community outreach
- investing in new equipment and technology including next generation police cruisers, fire apparatus, ambulances, protective gear, E911 dispatch consoles, and other critical gear
- providing stable budget funding for public safety departments to attract, train, and retain top-notch personnel and increase fire prevention and community policing activities
- overseeing completion of our new, state-of-the-art police station after having served as a member of the building and site selection committee
As Mayor, David has rebuilt our street and sidewalks and expanded our walk/bike infrastructure by:
- using city capital improvement dollars to supplement state Chapter 90 funds in order to address deferred paving maintenance in Florence, Leeds, and Northampton. In the last four years, David allocated $1.5 million in local tax dollars to this effort and his current capital improvement program calls for an additional $4.25 million over the next five years.
- investing in sidewalk repairs, traffic calming, and expansion of our rail trail system. David's capital plan funded an citywide inventory of our hundreds of miles of sidewalks in order to plan future investments.
- engaging city residents in a major planning effort focused on pedestrians and cyclists: Walk/Bike Northampton. Using grants funds and working with a national consulting firm, city planners held a series of public forums, conducted surveys, and conducted complete streets demonstrations to create a comprehensive update to our Sustainable Northampton master plan for our walking and biking infrastructure.
- secured a $400,000 state "Complete Streets" grant to make bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the city's southern gateway, Pleasant Street, in concert with roadway and infrastructure improvements funded by a state MassWorks grant.
David understands the importance of arts and culture to the vitality of Northampton and its local economy. We've been recognized as one of the best small arts cities in America and our diverse arts and entertainment options bring thousands of visitors to Northampton every year to browse our galleries, take in a live play or concert at one of several venues including the city-owned Academy of Music, or enjoy unique events like Arts Night Out or First Night. David has worked to support our arts community through funding, staff support, and strong collaborations with local organizations and artists.
As Mayor, David has supported the arts and our cultural economy by:
- forming the city's Arts and Culture Department as part of government reorganization under the new charter and making director a full-time city-funded position.
- increasing budget funding for Arts and Culture by 47.5% in 6 years (FY13-FY18) or an average of 7.9% per year.
- working with the Arts Council to get downtown Northampton designated as a state-designated cultural district and launching the Paradise City Cultural District as a coordinating force for our arts venues and organizations.
- funding significant capital projects at the Academy of Music Theatre to support and leverage the private and grant-funded improvements to the oldest, municipally-owned theatre in America.
- supporting the Northampton Community Arts Trust in its efforts to create affordable artist space with grant support and CDBG funding for an accessible ramp.
- increasing support for First Night Northampton after the BID was dissovled by having city take over funding of the fireworks which continues today.
- adding funding to the city budget to support community film and music programming, including the popular outdoor movie series led by Cinema Northampton.
Seniors make up 20% of Northampton's population and are a critical part of what makes Northampton a great city and a vibrant, diverse community. Whether you grew up here, or moved to Northampton because of its national reputation as a great place to retire, the city has made serving the evolving needs of seniors a major focus of its work and David has made it a major priority of his administration.
As Mayor, David has worked to serve the needs of Northampton's seniors by:
- working closely with the Senior Services Department (newly named under charter reorganization) to ensure they have funding, staff, and programming to serve seniors both at the Senior Center and throughout the city.
- securing pilot funding, training, and a free van from PVTA to launch our new senior transportation program to provide improved transportation access to not only the Senior Center but shopping, doctors appointments, etc.
- increasing the Senior Services budget by 15% to support the new transportation program, including hiring 4 part-time drivers.
- appointing a great new Senior Services Director, Linda Desmond, a Hamp native, former City Councilor, and a caring and compassionate leader with over 40 years of experience in elder and social services.
- launching the popular Senior Tax Work Off program allowing Northampton seniors who meet certain income criteria to volunteer in our city departments, schools, and libraries in exchange for a reduction of up to $1,000 on their property tax bill.
- reforming the city's water and sewer rates to build in more affordability for seniors living in small homes and using less water than large industrial users.
David served our country in the United States Air Force and is currently the only veteran in elected office in Northampton municipal government. First as a City Councilor, and now Mayor, he has made a strong commitment to ensuring that we honor the service and sacrifice of our city’s military veterans. Northampton currently provides more benefits and other services to veterans per-capita than any other community in Massachusetts and that’s a record we can all be proud of.
As Mayor, David has worked to honor Northampton’s commitment to our veterans by:
- providing stable funding and support to our Northampton Department of Veterans' Services to ensure outreach, case management, and benefit awards for city veterans and their families.
- strengthening Northampton’s regional role leading and hosting the Central Hampshire Veterans Service District and expanding it from 8 to 11 communities.
- increasing city budget funding to support ceremonial activities organized in collaboration with the Veterans Council of Northampton.
- implementing the Veterans Tax Work-Off program allowing city veterans to lower their property tax bill through volunteer service in city departments.
- one of only 7 mayors in Massachusetts to sign on to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” to create the coordinated support systems needed to ensure that no veteran must sleep without a roof over their head in our city.
- co-hosting outreach meetings to area landlords to promote the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program that provides housing opportunities for veterans and their families.
- attaining “Purple Heart City” designation for Northampton as part of its commitment to recognizing both living and deceased Purple Heart recipients.
- representing our city at every Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, Purple Heart Day, and other veteran-related events.
The opioid epidemic is the single most important public health issue affecting our city, state, and nation. Many of our neighbors and their families have been affected by this crisis and sadly far too many have lost loved ones to the disease of opioid addiction which cuts across all socioeconomic lines. Under David's leadership, the City of Northampton has worked compassionately and proactively to address this public health crisis, leading the Hampshire County effort in partnership with other partner agencies and municipalities.
As Mayor, David has responded to the opioid crisis by:
- securing a 5-year, $640,000 state grant in 2014 to create Hampshire HOPE, a regional coalition led by Northampton and based out of our Health Department, whose mission is addressing the rise in prescription opioid misuse, heroin use, addiction, and overdose death in the Hampshire County region, through policy, practice, and systems change.
- adapting the Northampton Police Department's response to the opioid crisis by forming the innovative Drug Addiction Response Team (DART) model, with specially trained officers working with individuals engaged in narcotics to provide them access to resources and treatment options.
- expanding our regional opioid response in 2017 by securing a competitive 4-year, $1.7 million federal grant that allowing the Northampton-led Hampshire HOPE coalition to build life-saving partnerships in every community and provide the life-saving drug Narcan to all Hampshire County police departments.
David has remained steadfast as our Mayor in ensuring that Northampton remains a safe and welcoming city and is committed to protecting the rights of everyone, including women, minorities, people with disabilities, immigrants, and our LGBTQ community. Since November 2016, this has meant standing up to harmful, bigoted policy proposals and, in some cases, outright threats from our current president. David has proudly stood up for and with residents in support of our values as a community.
As Mayor, David has stood up for our diverse and welcoming community by:
- being a longtime ally and defender of the LGBTQ community, including as one of only 226 mayors nationwide to submit friend of the court briefs in the historic 2015 Supreme Court case overturning DOMA and affirming marriage equality.
- keeping trust with Northampton's immigrant community by issuing a 2014 executive policy order instructing the Northampton Police Department not to carry out ICE administrative detainer requests or otherwise perform federal immigration enforcement activities.
- refusing to bend to threats of federal funding loss from the President and U.S. Attorney General because of our status as a so-called "sanctuary city."
- working collaboratively with local organizations serving our minority and immigrant communities including Casa Latina, Center for New Americans, and the International Language Institute
- standing with the City Council in welcoming international refugee families to Northampton after our Governor wavered and the President attempted to ban them because of their religion.
- joining local and regional community members in demonstrations and marches supporting racial justice, women's rights, workers' rights, transgender rights, human rights, and in opposition to hatred and violence toward any members of our community.
David's father, Joe Narkewicz, grew up on a dairy farm in Westminster, Vermont. The Narkewicz family home in Shelburne reflected Joe's rural roots with big, bountiful gardens to feed their large family of nine kids, a well-stocked root cellar and canning cupboard for the long winters, and even a few cows, chickens, and other animals. David worked several summers on the Stacy Farm in Colrain as a teen, growing vegetables for sale at the Greenfield Farmer's Market. Those experiences have made it easy for him to connect with Northampton's rich history of agriculture. Our city seal includes a rake, hoe, and pitchfork, reminders of our proud agricultural past - and present. The city is home to the oldest continuously running agricultural fair in the United States, held each September at the Three County Fairground.
As Mayor, David Narkewicz has strengthened and expanded agriculture in our city by:
- permanently protecting over 250 acres of Northampton farmland via city owned or co-owned Agriculture Preservation Restrictions (APR)
- leasing almost 30 acres of city-owed farmland to local farmers for agricultural production
- supporting our four Farmers Markets, three of which are located on or in city-owned property
- leasing land to Grow Food Northampton to develop Florence Organic Community Gardens
- supporting Agriculture Commission efforts to create a farming strategic plan and promote regional collaboration
David was proud to work with federal, state, and regional officials to welcome the return of passenger rail to Northampton in 2015 after being discontinued since 1987. Even before Governor Deval Patrick arrived by ceremonial train at our new Northampton station (NHT) at the end of 2014, David began advocating for expanding the number of daily trains to ensure that both city and regional riders had fuller north-south access along the Knowledge Corridor route. Those advocacy efforts have continued with Governor Baker, MassDOT, and Amtrak officials touting NHT station as among the busiest stops along the Vermonter line.
As Mayor, David has worked to expand passenger rail service by:
- appointing a Passenger Rail Advisory Committee made up of neighborhood residents, transportation experts, business and academic representatives, and other key stakeholders to advise him on rail-related issues and help conduct public outreach in advance of our city's new train service.
- monitoring and calculating ridership data on the new service and coordinating joint communications from area mayors to state transportation officials seeking additional rail service between Greenfield and Springfield.
- working with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) and Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) to develop a pilot project for additional north-south trains to test rider demand and expand daily trips to Northampton.