Mayoral Candidates Narkewicz and Bardsley Ramp it Up at Ward 6 Debate: Audio Playlist
NORTHAMPTON — Two mayoral candidates, four at-large city council candidates, a slate of hopefuls for the Community Preservation Committee, and even a slowly-simmering race in staid Ward 2. It’s election season in Northampton, which means debates, forums, lawn signs, campaign literature, meet-and-greets, and fundraisers galore.
A mayoral debate held Tuesday night at the Northampton High School was a polite affair, with candidates Michael Bardsley and David Narkewicz speaking quietly to the issues and refraining from criticizing the other.
Call that a warm-up.
Twenty-four hours later, at the Ryan Road elementary school, in feisty Ward 6, audience questions brought out the fight between the two.
The following audio playlist features the candidates’ responses to questions at Wednesday’s debate, sponsored by the Ward 6 Neighborhood Association and the anti-landfill group known as Water Not Waste. (Audience questions were barely audible in our recording, so are omitted from the playlist.)
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Narkewicz, elected as Ward 4 councilor in 2005 and as an at-large representative in 2009, is currently in his first term as council president. Bardsley, elected Ward 4 representative in 1993, was council president from 2000 until January 2008, when he was removed from that position by a vote of his peers in favor of at-large councilor James Dostal.
And in fact, the issue of what it means to be city council president became a key issue in Wednesday’s debate. Bardsley, on several occasions, criticized former mayor Mary Clare Higgins, suggesting that her decision-making style over a 12-year tenure was autocratic and secretive. Narkewicz fired back, saying that Bardsley was council president — “the second-most powerful position in the city” — during that era, and has only himself to blame for failing to stand up to the city’s chief executive.
For his part, Bardsley countered that Narkewicz was “not in the room” during his conversations with Higgins and the city’s planning director about two issues: a town-gown development agreement with Smith College and an ultimately failed proposal to build a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in the Roundhouse Lot behind Pulaski Park downtown.
“There was no flexibility there,” said Bardsley.
In keeping with their campaign slogans (“Moving a Great City Forward” and “Everybody’s Mayor”) Narkewicz emphasized his ability to get things done, while Bardsley touted his dedication to the working class.
(The four candidates for two at-large seats on the council also debated on Wednesday night. Watch for a related story. Northampton Community Television’s video of Wednesday’s event can be found here.)
© Northampton Media; audio recording by Mary Serreze with thanks to Northampton Community Television.
Mary Serreze can be reached at email@example.com