I am voting for Shelley Brindle!

There are so many reasons already discussed in the media and I want to present one more reason: During the current administration’s first four years in office, I owned and operated the largest business in downtown Westfield. In total, my consulting business had 250 employees in 21,000 square feet of second and third floor office space in the downtown business district.

My employees were daily consumers of Westfield services, especially during the holidays. I frequently ran into them shopping late into the evening in the downtown area. Most of my employees didn’t live in Westfield, but would stay in town after work for dinner, shopping, movies and drinks with friends.

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In all those years, I never met the mayor. He never asked how business was going, how he could help our employees or how we could better integrate the employees into the fabric of the community. We had numerous issues with employee parking. In fact, I was invited to a special town meeting to discuss employee parking issues. I was excited to attend and contribute ideas to solving the problem. Instead, we had a fairly contentious discussion regarding the matter.

Still, I never met the mayor. I wonder if he and I could have worked together to find a better parking solution that would have worked for my employees, the businesses downtown and the residents.

In 2008, I sold my business to an international consulting company, many of whose employees live in or near Westfield. These town residents were excited to frequent the office for technology, for convenience and to avoid an arduous commute elsewhere. It was quite unusual and unexpected to have such a large, prominent corporation buy a Westfield homegrown business and choose to stay in Westfield! Yet the mayor never reached out.

I think of all the lost opportunities for a corporate sponsor for our town initiatives, seasonal festivals and 5K charity events. During the administration’s second four years in office, and after I had retired from the company, the prominent company completely moved out of Westfield. Two-hundred fifty people no longer buying coffee, lunch, gifts, haircuts, clothing and other various consumables each and every day in our downtown.

The mayor never approached the business to ask them to stay. It seems the mayor simply chose not to advocate on behalf of the town. It’s as if the mayor didn’t care about losing 250 downtown consumers in one single event.

Shelley Brindle reached out to me two months ago to ask me about employee parking based on a recommendation from one of my former business landlords. We talked parking for a few minutes, but when she asked me about my prior discussions with the mayor on the topic, it dawned on me. I had the largest business by far in downtown Westfield and I never had a single opportunity to meet with the mayor. He never showed up at my office. He never called, emailed, sent a delegate or asked to share a cup of coffee.

This goes to the heart of the matter. Maybe the cost of rents and leases aren’t the reason business is leaving our town. Maybe the deeper issue is that business simply doesn’t have a reliable partner in local government.

Why should any company put roots down here? Other towns are reaching out and taking an interest in what businesses want and need, working with instead of working against. At the very least, they are listening. As a former business owner, I can say listening is critical for growth.

I have had the pleasure of meeting with Shelley on several occasions. She cares about my opinion and values the voices of all in this community. She is inclusive, has momentum and plenty of experience to run Westfield as a thriving community-centric business. She listens! Most of all, she has the energy to get this town moving again. I can’t wait until I can say, I already know the mayor!