West Springfield Mayor; Age 28
When Mayor Edward Sullivan informed him last April he would not be seeking re-election, William Reichelt’s first thoughts were about job security — or an almost certain lack of it, to be more precise.
Indeed, Reichelt was serving West Springfield, home of the Terriers, as its solicitor, or attorney, at the time, and this office holder serves at the discretion of the mayor. So Sullivan’s decision to limit his stay in the corner office to one two-year term left Reichelt thinking about where, and for whom, he would be working next.
But soon, the tone of the employment conversation would take a dramatic turn. Prompted by encouragement from friends and family — not to mention abundant self-confidence in his ability to do the job at the age of 28 — Reichelt would soon become a candidate for the office himself.
In doing so, he would call on years of service to his hometown that began when he was only 21 and included stints on the Planning Board, the Housing Authority, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and, eventually, the job of solicitor. But while those in City Hall knew him, relative few voters did. Thus, he waged an aggressive campaign that would change that equation, and he would eventually triumph over state Rep. Michael Finn in last November’s election.
Only three months into the job, Reichelt says he’s still learning it, a process he didn’t fully appreciate as solicitor but certainly does now.
“I’ve discovered that there’s a big difference between advising the mayor and being mayor — there’s been some adjusting,” he told BusinessWest, adding that he must find time for such things as greeting monks walking through his city on their way to Washington to protest nuclear weapons and taking part in the inaugural burger-building competition at Classic Burgers, while also forwarding his five-point plan for progress.
Planks in that platform include maintaining an accessible, approachable, and accountable administration; providing a safe community; investing in strong schools; kick-starting business development; and fighting blight.
He said that, while he’s making those aforementioned adjustments, he’s already making headway with implementing pieces of that plan.
“It’s going well — it’s hectic, and there’s a lot going on,” he said of life in the corner office. “There’s curveballs coming at you every day, but it’s fun, and I really enjoy it.”
In the meantime, he’s let it be known to everyone, including his city solicitor, that, come next year, he’ll be a candidate for re-election.
— George O’Brien
Photography by Leah Martin Photography