PITTSFIELD &mdash National politics today is a mess. One candidate paints a hopeless picture of our country, insulting hard working Americans — be they Gold Star mothers or handicapped neighbors — with every new tweet. The other is struggling to capture the trust of everyday Americans, including many here in Pittsfield. If we judged our future by what we see on national television, we would be hard pressed to find rays of hope.
But national politics is not all politics. In fact, national politics is not even the most important level of politics: state and local politics are. This is why I care deeply — and why every Pittsfield citizen should care deeply — about having an effective representative in Boston.
We need a state representative who will put all of their focus, all of their time, and all of their energy into securing state resources to develop our economy and education system. Even more, we need a state representative who moves beyond the campaign fluff of ribbon cuttings, and photo ops, and gets into the weeds of what state policies actually create opportunity for the people of Pittsfield.
Rep. Farley-Bouvier is a wonderful person who cares about this community, but she has failed to be the effective representative our city desperately needs. She has been quick to take credit for shared successes, but has been absent from taking responsibility for failures.
In the past five years, Rep. Farley-Bouvier has not passed a single piece of legislation she has sponsored — she's 0 for 25.
In the past five years, Rep. Farley-Bouvier has failed to prioritize the issues — like economic and educational development — that we need her to prioritize: her latest efforts, for example, are bills regarding prescription eye drops and a plan to tax vehicles based on miles driven.
In the past five years, Rep. Farley-Bouvier has brought back less funding through sponsored budget amendments than any of the other Berkshire County legislators (Cariddi, Mark, and Pignatelli) have brought back to their districts in this year alone.
When we fail in Boston it isn't the well-to-do that are hit hardest, it's our seniors that see their tax bills go up, our working class that watch as their jobs leave town, and our youth who look elsewhere for opportunity.
What I will do
My grandparents — who opened Jim's House of Shoes in 1946 — my aunt and uncle — who launched the Berkshire Carousel project — and my mother — who raised my brother and me as a single mom working two jobs — taught me that complaining gets you nowhere.
I came back to Pittsfield, not for an opportunity, but to take the experience I have gained working in global finance, studying urban revitalization and building startups, so that I could help create opportunity, here and around the state. But words are just words if there are no commitments, and no accountability.
We need more than a voice. We need results.
That's why I am making these five commitments to you, the people of Pittsfield:
1. I will prioritize economic revitalization. I will work with our local businesses to help them overcome the legislative hurdles to expansion, such as outdated building codes and high energy costs. I will sit down with 50 of them in my first 50 days in office to talk about how we can grow opportunity right here.
2. I will prioritize educational revitalization. I will measure us by how we do at closing both the achievement and funding gaps. We currently receive $5.4 million less in education funding than we should be from the state.
3. I will not "go native" in Boston: I will be in direct contact with our mayor's office and community groups every step of the way to make sure that we do not walk alone, we run together. Even more, I won't go to Boston as one of 160 legislators, I will go with the ability to bridge the gaps between Pittsfield and other communities facing the same problems because we are not alone. In my first six months I will visit every single one of the 25 other Gateway Cities in Massachusetts and sit down with their representative and their mayor.
4. I will hold myself accountable: I am not doing this for the job, I'm doing it to be effective, so if after four years I have not been a change-maker for our city, I will not run for re-election. We need effectiveness!
5. I will remain accessible: I will be accessible to you, not just at ribbon cuttings and press opportunities, but in the long and hard work of daily problem solving and coalition building. You can, and will always be able to, reach me any time.
My cell phone number is 413-212-9386 and my email is email@example.com.
I would love to hear from you about your ideas for a better Pittsfield and I'd love to have your vote on Sept. 8.
Michael Bloomberg is a Democratic candidate for state representative from the 3rd Berkshire district.