Q&A: At-Large City Council candidate James F. Henry


Published: 9/4/2019 5:44:54 PM

Editor’s note: This questionnaire completed by James Henry is one of five for the candidates running for City Council seats in the Sept. 10 preliminary election. Look for more questionnaires in Friday’s edition.

Address: 13 Pierce St., Greenfield

Education: MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing, MA in Journalism, BA in Communications

Occupation (past/present): Professor

Political experience: Past town councilor, School Committee member, Charter Commissioner, eight years as a municipal administrator.

How long have you lived in Greenfield? We bought our home in 1972. I lived here until my 30s, moved away, and returned last fall.

What sets you apart from the other candidates for City Council?: Everyone brings different skills to the table. I worked as a professional administrator for selectmen in area towns for eight years, but I have also served the citizens of Greenfield in many ways. In addition to my elected capacities, I also served as vice chair of the Planning Board, as an officer of the Council on Aging. I negotiated a 10-year cable television franchise as the chair of the Cable Advisory Commission, among other experiences.

What would be the most challenging part about being a city councilor and how would you overcome it? I know what the job entails, having served as a councilor before, but I recognize the current council is a different animal than when I served on the old bloated 27-member council. If anything, I expect this to be an easier environment to get things done.

Can you give an example of a successful time or project when you collaborated closely with someone who doesn’t share your political beliefs? In 1996, as a member of the Planning Board, I helped bring together people who had been historically parts of warring factions over economic development issues. The result was Consensus ’96, where we focused on areas that we could agree upon, instead of focusing on just the things that divide us. After that process, I ran for Town Council, representing Precinct 3, and helped implement many of the recommendations from the Consensus ’96 report, serving as a member of the council’s Economic Development and Planning Committee.

How would you rate the current council’s performance? I value the hard work all public servants give to their community. That said, I question why we are getting involved in federal issues that really Greenfield has little opportunity to influence, instead of focusing on issues that can have a direct impact on the citizens of Greenfield.

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
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