A handful of new Western Massachusetts mayors take office in January, and that means the former officeholders are finishing up final projects and packing their bags.
A pair of Pioneer Valley mayors are leaving office, though not voluntarily. In Chicopee, Mike Bissonnette lost out in November to former Mayor Richard Kos.
And in West Springfield, Mayor Greg Neffinger failed in his bid for re-election. His opponent, former city council president Ed Sullivan, says he met with Neffinger recently.
“A lot of times, candidates take a lot of things that are said during campaigns personal,” Sullivan says. “So it’s difficult to overcome some of those hurdles or comments as you move forward, whether you’re the winner or the loser.”
Still, Sullivan says it was a good meeting, took over three hours and they wished each other well. More valuable to Sullivan, he says, were his separate meetings with various city department heads.
The transition is an easier one in Easthampton. Mayor Michael Tautznik will be replaced by Karen Cadieux, his longtime assistant.
Tautznik, the only mayor Easthampton has ever known, elected 17 years ago ago when it became a city. He opted not to seek another term this year.
“I’m a lifelong resident of Easthampton and I love the house that I live in,” Tautznik says. “And, so, I’m not going anywhere, but I am looking for new opportunities.”
Those opportunities could include other jobs in government and possibly even a lobbying gig, but only if it’s for a cause he cares about, Tautznik says.
For his part, Bissonnette says he still has some grant applications to file for the city.
“So, while we’re all celebrating the holidays and getting ready to pack up the boxes and get these offices cleaned out, there’s still a lot of work for the people still to be done,” he says.
One thing Bissonnette says he will not miss about being mayor: the 80 to 90-hour workweeks. But he still has the political bug, and is considering runs for registrar of probate or Hampden District Attorney.