City Councilor resigns to focus on child adoption

  • Precinct 9 Greenfield City Councilor Dan Leonovich, shown at a March meeting, has resigned, effective immediately, because he and his wife have started the process to adopt a child from Ukraine. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/14/2019 11:30:46 PM

GREENFIELD — Precinct 9 Councilor Dan Leonovich resigned from the City Council Tuesday, effective immediately.

“My wife and I started the process of adopting a child from Ukraine,” an excited Leonovich said. 

He and his wife recently found out that their goal of adopting the child from the orphanage was going to move forward and that it would require a significant time investment. He plans to make several trips to the Ukraine in the near future. 

His departure will be effective immediately. 

“I have to focus on what my family needs and this is what my family needs,” Leonovich said.

Leonovich, chairman of the Community Relations and Educations Committee, leaves the council in the middle of budget season and on the eve of votes on whether to send the library project to the polls and on whether to remove the Greenfield Police Department officers from the Civil Service. 

“If I waited for the perfect politically advantageous opportunity to resign, I would never be able to,” he said. “Something will always come up to delay the inevitable. Zero political calculations were made.”

The $51.3 million city spending plan will be voted on next week. It features a $1.3 million disagreement on how to fund the public schools. The council will have to operate short-handed with 12 of its 13-member legislative body. 

“We will miss him,” City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud said. “He is kind, thoughtful and a hard worker. He was a pleasure to work with.”

Renaud said she hopes to have a replacement for the Precinct 9 seat by July. The temporary councilor will serve in the seat for six months.

Precinct 9 residents interested in the seat can now take out papers to run for the seat in the November election. The term will last one year, the remaining time on Leonovich’s term. 

“I think Greenfield is in good hands and I want to give everybody the opportunity to be represented,” Leonovich said. 

Without Leonovich, it will take six, not seven, votes to decide to hold an election in deciding the library and when that election would be held, this summer or in November. The same math applies to removing Civil Service with the police. 

The Precinct 9 councilor serving his second term typically could be counted for a fiscal conservative vote and deliver a pragmatic point of view.

“I have been privileged to serve and I have been privileged to serve for those in town who are not as vocal,” Leonovich said. “I hope during my time on the council I conducted myself in a way that showed my integrity and that I was a honest broker the entire time.”

Leonovich, at times, was viewed as a swing vote on the new public library, which he did not vote in favor. 

Despite a brokered deal of a library for relaxed commercial zoning laws by Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud and At-Large Councilor Isaac Mass, Leonovich remained steadfast during the March vote. 

He voted against the removal of the majority of the French King Highway overlay district, for the relaxation of major development review zoning guidelines, and against the library; Leonovich was one of three councilors to vote against the library.

“We as Greenfield are inherently attractive,” Leonovich said on the council floor in March. “We have to work on stopping the development from coming here.” 

In a February letter to Precinct 5 Councilor Tim Dolan, who is a librarian at Greenfield Community College, he explained his stance on the $19.5 million library. 

“I am not against THE Library…I am not seeing the practical necessity of THIS Library,” Leonovich said in a letter. 

His reasoning, Leonovich offered, was the building was too big and not ideal for Greenfield.

“I would rather see our city come up with a suitable library building that meets the needs of everyone in town,” Leonovich said to Dolan in February.

The library may now go to an election because of a citizen referendum petition by former councilor Steve Ronhave. 

His vote, which often sided with councilors Mass, Brickett Allis, Wanda Pyfrom and Verne Sund, will now be absent for helping to decide the library election day — special election in the summer, which could favor the library-supporters, or in November, which is more of a gamble.   

Leonovich’s vote will also be absent for the May 22 budget vote, giving the upper hand to the often progressive-leaning majority on the council. 

“I felt like I could not dedicate enough time for doing the work of the council,” Leonovich said. “It wouldn’t be fair for me to sit in this seat that I’m not actively participating in.” 

Leonovich, whose mother is from the Ukraine and whose wife was born in Uzbekistan, said he is excited for the next steps for his family. He expressed his excitement to add another child to his family, which currently includes three children. His family lost a child. He said everyone is ready to welcome a new member.

“We have always been focused on the sanctity of human life as a family,” Leonovich said. “We have the room, we have the space, we have the love in our hearts and our kids are immensely for it.”

When he ran for council, Leonovich said, it was “beneficial to our family to be a part of the political process.”

“Now, I’m doing this to benefit my family, as well,” Leonovich said about the adoption. “I have to take that chance and I have to take that opportunity while I can.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

413-772-0261, ext. 264

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