For superintendent Mark Keen to have it both ways is a conflict of interest. The longtime head of the Westfield Washington Schools is also a candidate in the May Republican primary for a seat on the City Council to represent the city’s District 1.
While Keen has said he would abstain from any votes pertaining to matters with even a hint of a conflict of interest, it is incumbent to have a full complement of voting councilors on the dais for all meetings. Yes, there are the occasional absences, and even the infrequent recusals from a vote due to a business conflict, but the schools and the city council are both City of Westfield entities. Both the Westfield schools and the city depend upon the same tax base – a clear conflict for Keen.
It has been noted in both this and another publication that Keen’s contract with the schools expires at the end of June 2016 and that he will consider retiring at that point. It would be appropriate for Keen to sit this election out and run in 2019 when there will be no conflict of interest.
There is no doubt that Keen, with his years of experience in education as well as his service in the United States Army for nearly three decades, will make a strong candidate. It would serve the City of Westfield best were Keen not hamstrung with a conflict for a year of his term.
Sanford D. Horn