At-large councilor candidates spar over stipend issue

GREENFIELD — While at-large town councilor candidate Isaac Mass has pledged he will not vote for any pay raise or cost-of-living increase to councilors’ salaries over the next three years if he is elected in June, his opponent, incumbent Mark Wisnewski, calls his pledge “meaningless.”

“Few town political conversations could be more meaningless than Mr. Mass’s pledge,” said Town Council President Wisnewski. “He vows to not vote for something that he will not be voting on during this upcoming term of office anyway.”

On Nov. 20, 2013, the majority of the council voted a $2,000 stipend for the 13 town councilors and six school board members at a cost of $44,000 a year to the town.

The stipend would not begin for three years.

Mass, who is running against Wisnewski in the June election for the at-large seat that Wisnewski has held for the past three years, recently signed a “Council Pay Protection Pledge,” making four promises related to councilors’ salaries.

He said he will not vote for any increases, pay raises or cost-of-living increases to the $2,000 stipend and promises to repeal the portion of the recently passed ordinance that allows councilors to vote for their own pay raises. He said he will work to close a loophole in the town charter that would allow the same.

Mass said he isn’t opposed to compensating councilors and school board members and has not said he will refuse to accept a stipend.

“A modest salary is not unreasonable, but annual pay raises are just too much,” he said.

Wisnewski said Mass’s pledge is a “poor attempt at creating an issue” designed to distract voters from real issues that affect them.

“If we’re going to make pledges, let’s make pledges about what we are going to do for Greenfield,” said Wisnewski.

He said he pledges to work hard to improve residents’ lives by implementing the ideas of the town’s new sustainable master plan.

Wisnewski said he will continue to vote “sound fiscal policies” that have led to a stable budget, lower bond ratings, increased stabilization funds, lower tax bills and a more vibrant local economy.

He said he also pledges to continue pushing for a new senior center and library and the return of youth services.

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