Mass takes on Wisnewski
Former Town Council member runs to unseat current president
GREENFIELD — Town Council President Mark Wisnewski says he is excited about Greenfield’s future and hopes to serve on the council for another three years so he can help implement the town’s new sustainable master plan.
Former at-large town councilor and founder of Citizens For Growth, local lawyer Isaac Mass says he hopes to unseat Wisnewski in the town’s June election, as he fights against drugs and poverty and pushes for economic development and the creation of jobs.
Wisnewski and Mass will face off for the only at-large council seat at stake in the June 10 polling, which will see races for all five council seats up for election this year — something that hasn’t happened since 2008.
“I was on the committee that created the new sustainable master plan,” said Wisnewski. “I’m very proud of it and would love to see the town move in that direction. Greenfield is ready to become independent in terms of its economy, natural resources, infrastructure and transportation, as well as sustainability.”
“I’m the only councilor who has worked on the new master plan, so I would be a good bridge between the council and the plan,” said Wisnewski.
Mass said he believes the town needs change and he’s ready for that challenge.
“People have approached me to run, because they are overwhelmingly disappointed in the way things have been going,” said Mass. “This community needs to head in a new direction.”
Mass said he will work on economic development and creating jobs, as well as helping the town’s impoverished residents move toward or into the middle class.
“We’ve got some big problems in town, including drugs and poverty,” said Mass. “In some ways, the current council is elitist, assuming everyone is in the best possible position and the council treats them that way.”
Wisnewski said he wants to work at creating a fair and open process where anyone and everyone can come before the council or one of its committees to speak their mind.
Mass said he’s already done that in the past.
“I want to make all residents comfortable in approaching any council member or the full council over the next three years,” said Wisnewski. “We need the process to be inclusive, so that all residents come forward with ideas and suggestions. No one will be turned away.”
Mass said he has never turned anyone away and will continue to be inclusive in all that he does.
Wisnewski, who suggested three years ago to move the “public comment” section of Town Council meetings to the beginning of the meeting, instead of the end, where it was, said he has already begun talking with councilors about how to make the Town Council process even more transparent.
“We have to get the message out that we are a friendly council,” he said.
Mass said he decided to run this year because he believes there should be “fresh faces” on the council every few years.
One of the prominent issues the two candidates disagreed on in the past was the rezoning of French King Highway to allow large retail development there.
Wisnewski said he did not agree that the French King Highway should be rezoned, because he believed it would hurt downtown businesses, while Mass saw it as a step in the right direction for the town. Mass founded Citizens for Growth in the late 1990s to support big box development.
Wisnewski served as Precinct 5 Councilor for five years, took a couple of years off, and ran again three years ago to become an at-large councilor.
Mass served on Town Council for a total of 12 years (1999 to 2007), six as Precinct 9 councilor on the 27-member council and six as an at-large councilor on the 13-member council, before leaving for personal reasons and to return to school. He said he feels it’s time to get back into town government where he belongs.
Wisnewski, 49, was born in Greenfield and grew up in Belchertown, returning to Greenfield after serving 11 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he was a company commander. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is the co-owner of The Rendezvous bar and grill in Turners Falls.
Throughout his eight years on the council, Wisnewski has served on its Ways and Means Committee and chaired Appointments and Ordinances. He served as vice president and is finishing his first year as president.
Wisnewski, who is married with two children who attend Greenfield public schools, also served as the council’s representative to the Greenfield Business Association. His wife is a member of the town’s School Committee.
Mass, 37, grew up in Greenfield’s Oak Courts housing project and graduated from Greenfield High School in 1994. He also graduated from Greenfield Community College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and most recently from Western New England Law School.
He served eight years in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and currently has his own law practice in Greenfield.
Mass is married to a teacher in Greenfield public schools and has three daughters who attend public school in Greenfield.
He has served on the town’s Planning Board and Board of License Commissioners and served two years on the Massachusetts State Ballot Commission, after he was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick.