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A Step Forward for Springfield
Seemingly lost amid all those much larger headlines last month concerning the World Series, the debt-ceiling crisis, and Westfield State President Evan Dobelle getting suspended and then suing everyone who had anything to do with that action was this item in the local paper: ‘Springfield City Council OKs raises for mayor, councilors.’ The Springfield City Council’s recent vote to take the mayor’s salary from $95,000 to $135,000 — the first raise for the city’s chief executive since Bill Clinton was starting his second term — represents real progress when it comes to securing solid leadership in the city for years to come. Raising the mayor’s salary does not ensure effective leadership — there are untold examples of how people in public positions with big salaries have failed in their roles — but it certainly helps in that regard. That’s because many people, especially members of the local business community, have eschewed bids for public office simply because they could not afford to take a serious pay cut. This $40,000 raise will reward the current mayor, Domenic Sarno, but, more importantly, it will help ensure large, deep fields of candidates in the future. And from our view, solid leadership is perhaps the most important ingredient in the large volume of work that remains to be done when it comes to returning Springfield, the state’s and the unofficial capital of Western Mass., to prominence. A $135,000 salary won’t make the job any easier, but it might help ensure that those who win that assignment have the wherewithal to carry it out effectively. Springfield’s goal moving forward is to make itself a community of choice again. It held that distinction once, but it was a long, long time ago. Regaining that status won’t happen quickly or easily, and it won’t happen at all unless there is strong consistent leadership for many years to come.