With the election of Melissa Mazzeo as City Council president, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi has a strong ally in the top legislative position, just as Mayor James Ruberto did with City Council President Gerald Lee. That mayor and City Council delivered for the city with an activist approach that continues to pay dividends, and the mayor and the new council will be similarly judged by their accomplishments as the new year gets underway.
Mayor Bianchi listed a series of actions during his first two years in office at Monday’s inauguration address, most of which are works in progress. This is not surprising, as two years is not a long time and the first year of any mayor’s tenure is largely going to involve getting to know the job and the players. Residents will be looking for more tangible progress this term.
One way or the other, everything comes down to the economy, as issues like crime and education are closely related to a city’s economic health. In the months and years ahead, Pittsfield -- and the Berkshires for that matter -- must build a quality workforce that can meet the demands of local employers and attract business and industry from elsewhere. The city also has to sell its strengths -- good schools, low housing costs, and high quality of life among them -- to appeal to employers. This is a critically important series of responsibilities for City Hall.
With admirable understatement, Ms. Mazzeo told The Eagle Monday "I don’t plan to be a very silent chair." The new president said she would, as is traditional, step down from the president’s chair to take part in issues that are important to her, but history suggests that most issues are important to the councilor. The regular shifting between the Council president and new Council Vice President Chris Connell may lead to confusion, and the city will be eager to see how this shakes down in the weeks and months ahead.
Some councilors have been described as anti-administration and probably will be again, which would be unfair. As a city councilor, Mr. Bianchi was a critic of the Doyle administration and Ms. Mazzeo of the Ruberto administration, but both bristled at being called anti-administration, arguing they were actually advocates of different views and constituencies. That’s a distinction that should be kept in mind as the term begins. "You can’t undermine what is best for your city," said Mr. Connell Monday in effectively pointing out the dangers of putting political agendas ahead of what is best for Pittsfield as a whole.