Westfield Mayor agrees to federal court ruling

Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik
Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Westfield’s Mayor has agreed to accusations that he violated political candidates’ freedom of speech.

This dispute started back in 2011 between Mayor Daniel Knapik and two municipal leaders in Westfield over campaign signs.

Knapik was being accused of ordering Municipal Light Board Member Jane Wensley and City Councilor David Flaherty to remove their signs from a certain location, claiming they were safety hazards to drivers during the October snowstorm clean up.

Earlier this year a Federal District Court Judge ruled that by having the signs removed, the Mayor violated Wensley’s and Flaherty’s first amendment rights.

Mayor Knapik said in a news release on Monday, that he never intended to violate anyone’s first amendment rights, that he disagrees with the results, but that it was time to put the lawsuit in the past and move forward. He stated, “While I disagree with the result, I would rather accept responsibility for my actions than continue to fight this claim. In the long run, while the judgment may affect me and my reputation, I am more concerned about putting this lawsuit in the past and focusing on what is best to move the City of Westfield forward.”

The American Civil Liberties Union says that the $53,000 in lawyer fees accrued during the case are the Mayor’s responsibility.

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