The preliminary election is 14 months away, but Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno already has a challenger.
Thirty-two-year-old Johnnie Ray McKnight talks of a difficult upbringing and troubles with the law. That includes stays in a juvenile detention center, which he now teaches in.
“I was committed until I was 18 and that’s when I started to turn my life around,” McKnight says. “So I can relate to the kids very well.”
McKnight works for Collaborative for Educational Services, a Northampton-based non-profit. He was named to the Springfield City Council’s advisory committee on workforce development.
McKnight is running for Springfield mayor because, he says, the city’s residents are not being heard.
His website lists some policy proposals: gradually eliminating the garbage collection fee, hiring 100 more police officers and teaching Spanish to all students.
“I think later on in the campaign we’ll definitely reveal how we intend to pay for that stuff,” McKnight says. “But right now, it’s pretty premature. I’m starting way before anybody else would start.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Sarno offered no comment on McKnight’s announcement, but says Sarno has said he intends to run for re-election in 2015.
According to Sarno’s most recent filings with the state, he has about $46,000 in his campaign account. McKnight only recently opened his. It has $125.