Councilor Kateri Walsh
Kateri Walsh (at-large, Vice-President)
First Elected: Prior tenure 1987-1993; Current tenure 2003
Committees: Maintenance & Development, Chair; Human Services, Audit. Also holds seat on City’s Capital Asset Committee.
Education: Emmanuel College (B.A), Springfield College (M.S.)
Work: Most Recently Insurance Agent; Chair of Springfield Women’s Commission
Prior Public Service: City Council 1987-1993
Other Elections: US Representative 1992 Democratic primary (l); Springfield Mayor 1993 preliminary (w) general (l); Write-in campaign Springfield City Council 1999 general (l) State Rep 2008 Democratic primary (l).
Political Distinctions: Member, Ward 6 Democratic Committee
Poll of last contested election: City Council At-large (5 seats on ballot) 2013 general
More than 19,500 blanks recorded
City Council At-large (5 seats on ballot) 2011 general
|James J. Ferrera*||9048||12.1%|
More than 28,000 blanks recorded
Repeal Biomass: No
Police Oversight Board: No
For Mayor’s FY2013 Budget: No
For Mayor’s FY 2014 Budget: Yes
Tightening Residency Ordinance Waivers: Yes
Pawnshop regulations: No
Political Note: One of only two women on the Springfield City Council, Walsh is both perennial candidate for other offices, but longtime City Councilor. Despite winning citywide office 8 times over a political career that spans a quarter of a century, she could never close the deal with constituencies either outside the city or in a one-on-one against former Mayor Robert Merkel in 1993. Her second tenure on the council began in January 2004. She became a critic of much of the Control Board’s work and voted against its self-extension in 2007 while serving on the Board as its Council President member. Her family has had a mark on Greater Springfield politics for decades. Her brother, William Bennett, was District Attorney for twenty years and her husband was a city councilor before her first tenure and also served as Veterans Affairs Director for the City. Viewed suspiciously by some as too conservative for a city as diverse as Springfield, many of her positions and votes have typified those of urban, conservative Democrats, with all attendant baggage, while other votes are more muddled. She came into conflict frequently with one-time Councilor Amaad Rivera who, like her, lives in Ward 6. She remains the only at-large councilor in Ward 6 or outside Ward 7 at all. Oddly, despite no public acknowledgement of this from either Rivera or Walsh, the two actually achieved real good when they joined forces on a few issues. More recently, she has emerged as an ally of Council President Michael Fenton’s and, whether out of self-preservation or conviction, signed onto populist reforms like reviving the Police Commission. She has a knack for the Council rules (a by-product of several Council presidencies) and her institutional memory has served her agenda well. Walsh vied for the Democratic nomination in 2008 to succeed State Rep. Mary Rogeness, but lost by a hair to Brian Ashe, whose parents are neighbors of Walsh’s in Ward 6. Redistricting in 2010 Census removed her from Ashe’s district. Sometimes written off as a social club or “fluff” politician, Walsh’s determination easily matches her ambition and—whether displayed with a smile or a scowl—both, when focused, reveal a politician not to be underestimated.