Brent Bean elected City Council president for fifth time

Brent B. Bean, II takes seat at Council President for 2020. (Photo by Amy Porter)

WESTFIELD – Veteran City Councilor Brent B. Bean II was elected City Council president Jan. 6 by an 8-5 vote of the full council.

Ward 1 Councilor Nicholas J. Morganelli Jr. received the other five votes.

At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris nominated Bean and At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty nominated Morganelli.
Flaherty asked if each candidate would make a statement.
Bean said he has served four times as president, and is the longest serving city councilor. He described himself as approachable; someone who can discuss tough votes, and control meetings at times.
Bean also said he has chaired every sub-committee, and is knowledgeable about where items should be sent, which would be helpful to the new mayor.
His priorities are making sure the council is business friendly, and working towards a new police station and high school in the city, which he said won’t be accomplished this year.
“My door will always be open,” Bean said.
Morganelli thanked Flaherty for the nomination. He said the seat is to exemplify respect for all the people on the council, the public and city officials. He said he would bring integrity to the position, and stressed that he has always been honest and never brought misinformation, even though he said that had been questioned at the last meeting (Dec. 19), where he had been “called a liar.”
At that meeting, during the discussion on the vote to support the Community Preservation Commission’s transfer of $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for an all-abled playground at the Cross Street Park, Morganelli and Bean disagreed on what Community Development Director Peter J. Miller had said about whether tabling the vote would endanger the state grant.
“I do have the support of Mayor Humason,” Morganelli said, adding that he had approached him about becoming president in November, and had his support in this position.
Morganelli also said this was his fourth term serving on the council, and he had never had the opportunity to sit in that chair.
“When I first got on the council, I was most impressed that each year they would rotate the council president,” said At-large Councilor Dan Allie following the statements. “It brings a different dimension to the council,” he added.
Flaherty said this is the start of his eleventh or twelfth year on the council. “I do believe we should be rotating,” he said.
Flaherty also said that the council president has a very limited role; to run meetings, and appoint committees. He said beyond that, “we all got elected the same way,” and stressed the difference between the council president and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Flaherty also said that it is not only the council president who can speak to the mayor. He then said both Bean and Morganelli were fine candidates, but that he would support Morganelli for “new blood.”
A vote was then taken by roll call. Bean was elected president on a vote of 8 to 5, with the support of Councilors James R. Adams, Bean, John J. Beltrandi III, Michael Burns, Ralph J. Figy, Harris, William Onyski and Richard K. Sullivan Jr. Morganelli received the support of Councilors Allie, Flaherty, Matthews-Kane, Kristen L. Mello and Morganelli.
A motion was then made to recast the vote and make it unanimous in support of Bean, a usual practice for the City Council. The vote remained 8 to 5.
Bean then took the president’s chair and opened the meeting up to public participation. Former Councilor Brian Hoose congratulated all of the councilors for their hard work in getting themselves elected.
“Do your best; live up to the needs of your community,” exhorted Hoose. He also gave the councilors some recommendations for helping pedestrians to navigate Elm and Franklin Streets more safely.
The unfinished business of transferring the $300,000 from the CPA undesignated funds to the Cross Street account was the only other action item listed on the agenda.
Figy made a motion to approve. “This is a project that has been in the works for a couple of years,” he said, adding that the previous location at Hampton Ponds had not been approved by the state.
Figy said the council had asked for an opinion by the Law Department regarding a question of the legality of the School Department retaining ownership of a portion of the grounds of the park, raised at the last meeting by a member of the public.
Figy said they received the answer that any legal issues would have been addressed by the Law Department. He also said the Council had already approved the concept of building the all-abled playground at the park on a vote of 13 to 0, and the state had approved a grant of $400,000 for the project.
Allie called the statement from the Law Department “vague,” and said the city has been aware of Article 97 violations at the park in the past. “I intend to vote against this. The city has not fulfilled its responsibility on this issue,” Allie said. He then made a motion to request that the School Department turn over the property, the former site of Ashley Street School, to the Parks & Recreation Department.
“I am going to support this,” said Flaherty. He said one of the cleanest ways to clear up any questions would be to ask the School Department to turn over the land to the city. He asked that the Law Department come to the microphone or to an executive session to clear up remaining questions.
“I don’t want to battle this out for many years,” Flaherty said, adding, “Let’s get this thing done.”

Newly-elected Council President Brent B. Bean, II speaks with Councilors James R. Adams and William Onyski following the meeting. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Mello asked what would happen to the appropriated funds if there were a problem. Bean said if they approved the funding and the project didn’t go forward, the CPA funds would go back to the committee.
The question was moved, and the vote was 12 to 1 in favor of the appropriation, with Allie voting against it.
Before adjournment, Bean said he would have the committee assignments to the councilors by the end of the week.
“I’m honored by the support,” Bean said after the meeting.

To Top