Wednesday January 19, 2011

PITTSFIELD - Mayor James M. Ruberto has told The Eagle he will not seek election to a fifth term in November.

"My time has come to step aside," Ruberto said in a meeting with Eagle editors and reporters today.

Ruberto highlighted a number of recent accomplishments, including the city's airport expansion project and improvements to the school system.

"We find Pittsfield to be a more open, dynamic and attractive community to all kinds of people."

The mayor said he was stepping down for two reasons: The need to heal after the death of his wife Ellen in 2009 during his last campaign, and the fact he can step aside when people can see government still works for them in a progressive fashion.

"The progressive philosophy we have brought to this city is what matters most. The longer you stay in office the more it becomes about you, and that has has never been my interest."

Meanwhile, Daniel L. Bianchi is said to be contemplating another mayoral campaign. The former Ward 6 councilor said earlier this month that he'll be focusing on a possible mayoral campaign this fall.

"We're giving it very serious consideration," Bianchi said at the time.

In 2008, Bianchi lost to Ruberto in one of the closest mayoral contests in the city's history.

Ward 7 Councilor Joseph C. Nichols has already declared his intentions to run for mayor in November.

Ruberto first ran in 2001, but lost that election to Sara Hathaway. Ruberto was elected to his first term two years later when he defeated Hathaway in a rematch.

Mayor James Ruberto provided the following letter about his decision not to seek election in November.

January 19, 2011

Dear Friends,

It has been a great honor to serve as Mayor of this wonderful city. I have been blessed to work with many progressive School Committee members and City Councilors, and I have been particularly blessed to have the leadership of Council President Gerry Lee. After a lot of soul-searching, I have decided that this will be my last term as your mayor.

I will be stepping aside for two main reasons. First, I have a lot of healing still to accomplish in my personal life. And second, I want to step aside at a time when we continue to be highly productive and effective in our city government, while people can clearly see that government works for them.

The progressive philosophy we have brought to this city is what matters most, not the candidacy of one person. The longer you stay in office, the more it becomes about you, and that has never been my interest. I want to complete my tenure knowing that the work of the city is still focused on what is best for the greatest number of our citizens.

So for my own personal reasons, and for the good of the city, I have decided this is the best time to step aside and let others continue to shape the rebirth of this city.

I am confident that at this time in the history of Pittsfield, our 250th year, we have achieved so much positive momentum that future leaders will be able to carry it forward effectively.

I am also so proud of the work we have accomplished together:

We have rebuilt the relationship between the city council and the office of the mayor, and between city hall and the school department. Those relationships are strong and highly productive today.

We have weathered the painful transition from heavy manufacturing to a knowledge-based creative economy. Pittsfield now has a solid base of economic activity focused on the arts, tourism and creativity, and we have also grown our share of high technology jobs like the hundreds now being created at General Dynamics.

We have also weathered this terrible recession. While other cities cut back severely, we have balanced our budgets, earned an A1 bond rating, fully staffed our police and fire departments, and kept our teachers on the job. 

We have a renewed sense of pride in our city, and have gained regional attention by being named "A Green Community" by the DEP and winning the "Creative Community" award by the Mass. Cultural Council.

We revitalized our downtown, and have now become a model for others to follow. The Colonial Theatre, the Barrington Stage, our modernized Museum, the Beacon Cinema, market rate condos and apartments, and the many restaurants and retail stores make Pittsfield the "Heart of the Berkshires" once again.

We have improved our city's infrastructure, improving roads, converting the wastewater treatment plant to green energy, and -- at long last -- beginning construction on safety improvements at the Pittsfield airport.

We have also demonstrated a strong commitment to the students in our city and the vision for our high schools is clear. I expect to have a groundbreaking within the next 18 months.

Most importantly for me, we have begun to address the social and racial wounds that stretch back over decades. It has always been a priority for me and for Ellen to reach out and include people from diverse backgrounds, people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, no matter their sexual orientation or their social standing. Make no mistake, we have a long way to go, but I am proud of how far we have come.

As I complete my last term in office, I will continue to lead this city toward the same vision I set out when I was first elected: to make Pittsfield the best darn small city in the Northeast! Thanks to a lot of hard work by a great number of people, we are well on our way.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has supported me and stood by me and Ellen over this past decade. You have meant the world to us, and I am forever grateful.

Sincerely,

James M. Ruberto