Various significant factors together shape a political image of a city and define whether it is possible for the community to develop and prosper. Indeed, the well-being of a city and its people depends on multiple characteristics. Main political factors make the most significant decisions and may either increase the value of the city or reduce its significance to the country. When preparing a political analysis of a town or city, it is necessary to mention the key authority figures, define the structure of government, evaluate partisanship, and examine geographic and socio-economic factors. The purpose of this paper is to provide a political analysis of the city of Westfield, MA.
About the City
The city of Westfield, Massachusetts, is located ninety-eight miles west of Boston. The current population of the city is approximately forty thousand, which is less than in 2010 (City of Westfield). The city is “split into the ‘South Side’ and the ‘North Side’ by the Westfield River” and “is strategically located just west of the junction of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate US-91” (Massachusetts Department of Revenue 1). It is possible to say that the city has a significantly developed infrastructure, including a transportation system and the municipally-owned Barnes Airport. The city’s crime rate is not very high, and it is evident that authorities carefully address the safety of citizens. There is a properly developed public school system, and Westfield also includes numerous departments and commissions related to culture, history, seniors’ and youth’s well-being, conservation, and preservation.
It is possible to say that the city’s government consists of many political actors. Those who have more power or more significant responsibilities are discussed further. First of all, the mayor of the City of Westfield is Michael A. McCabe, who has worked for the local Police Department for thirty-six years and now promotes Westfield’s better development and prosperity. The City Attorney is Manny Herceg, Matthew Barnes is the City Treasurer, and John J. Beltrandi III is the Counselor of Westfield (City of Westfield). As for emergency departments, the policy commission consists of Lawrence Valliere being the chief of police and James Irwin and Felix Otero being the commissioners. Further, the Westfield Fire Commission involves two members, including C. Lee Bennett and Jeffrey Siegel (City of Westfield). There are many other significant departments that are parts of the city government. Some of the remaining departments include the board of health, conservation commission, flood control commission, commission for citizens with disabilities, and Westfield housing authority.
Structure of Government
There are several types of government structures available for cities. It is informative and important to be aware of these types because they exist to make it easier for the authorities to make their city a good and prosperous place. For example, the types of city government structures are council-manager, commission, strong mayor-council, and weak mayor-council (Zimmermann). Generally, all systems are beneficial in their own way; some limit the power of a mayor, while the others provide them with more responsibilities.
When analyzing the structure of Westfield’s government, it becomes evident that it is a weak mayor-council, meaning that Michael A. McCabe’s power is limited. In a 2010 Financial Management Review by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, it is stated that “the mayor serves as the chief executive officer and the 13-member city council is the legislative branch” (1). The structure of Westfield’s government has not changed since then. Although McCabe “coordinates the day-to-day operations of all city departments (except the schools), the mayor only appoints department heads who are not under the jurisdiction of a separately elected or appointed board” (Massachusetts Department of Revenue 1). Consequently, the mayor’s appointing authority is limited, and the responsibility to appoint the collector, the city clerk, and the city auditor belongs to the council.
It is quite challenging to define the partisanship of the city of Westfield. There is no definite information online regarding whether Michael A. McCabe, the recently elected mayor of the city, is a representative of republicans or democrats. Moreover, there is also no specific information on the partisanship of other significant political actors of Westfield. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that there are non-partisan elections in the city. However, the recent Westfield Mayoral Debates have been sponsored by the Republican party, which may mean that they prevail in the city’s political life.
It is always rather interesting to evaluate the geographic position of an area and assess the advantages and disadvantages. As mentioned above, the Westfield River splits the city into two parts. While this division may be considered beneficial (for example, the city has access to unlimited water resources), it also has negative effects on Westfield. The upstream watershed of the river is rocky, steep, and large, so this is why there have been many floods in the citys history, and Westfield’s adjacent parts are always in danger. Although there are many modern ways to prevent such a natural disaster, including a complicated system of waterways, dumbs, and pumps, there is always a threat of another flood.
It is also possible to assess the location of Westfield to Boston, which is included in the Northeast megalopolis. As mentioned earlier, Westfield is located ninety-eight miles west of Boston, which has both positive and negative effects on the city. On the one hand, the citizens get an opportunity to travel to Boston and engage with its fast-paced life or get access to better-developed resources. On the other hand, there has been a significant land acquisition over the last decades, and Boston expanded its area, moving closer to Westfield and getting lands for suburban commercial and residential uses. However, the west part of the city borders underpopulated hill-towns, and this area’s forests are reverting to their previous conditions, which provides Westfield’s citizens’ access to nature.
Finally, it is necessary to examine many socio-economic factors affecting the city. First of all, according to Westfield’s website, various civil and labor service job positions with “competitive wages and an attractive benefit package” are offered to people (City of Westfield). In 2010, “the median household income was $53,772, and the per capita income was $26,605” (City of Westfield). As mentioned earlier, there is a properly developed education system with primary, middle, and high schools and Westfield State University. Crime rates are low, healthcare facilities operate successfully, and various commissions support the citys youth, elderly, and other vulnerable groups.
To conclude, one may say that the political environment of the city of Westfield, Massachusetts, is quite positive and effective. The key political actors do their best to develop their city and increase the community’s level of life. The geographic position of Westfield is both advantageous (about access to natural resources and major cities) and disadvantageous (higher risks of floods). At the same time, the socio-economic factors of Westfield quite successfully promote the development of the city.
City of Westfield. Westfield, 2022, Web.
Massachusetts Department of Revenue. “Financial Management Review.” Massachusetts Government, 2010, Web.
Zimmermann, Benjamin. “Does the Structure of Local Government Matter?” Fels Institute of Government, 2017, Web.