'Deeply humbled' Linda Tyer takes reins as Pittsfield's mayor

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Read | Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer's Inaugural Speech

PITTSFIELD — Linda M. Tyer became Pittsfield's new mayor on Monday amid expressions of hope for a more inclusive and collaborative city government.

The former city clerk and ward councilor took the oath of office shortly after a new City Council, School Committee and clerk were sworn in at City Hall. As expected, Councilor at large Peter Marchetti was unanimously elected as council president, as was Ward 6 Councilor John Krol as vice president.

An overflow crowd of about 200 residents and current and former municipal and state officials and city employees filled council chambers and spilled into the surrounding hallways.

"I am deeply humbled that I have been entrusted by the people of Pittsfield to lead our community for the next four years," Tyer said in her inaugural address. "In my heart I carry with me a great deal of respect and admiration for those of you that have blazed the trail of excellence. I aspire to the great traditions of loyalty to purpose, dedication to principle and perseverance in struggle."

Both Marchetti and Krol were elected unanimously and were the only nominees for council leadership. Former council President Melissa Mazzeo and Vice President Christopher Connell did not seek re-election and supported the new council leadership team.

"I am confident we will have an inclusive and cooperative city government going forward," said Marchetti, who returned to the council after four years as top vote-getter in the Nov. 3 election.

He and Krol, whom he nominated for vice president, were strong supporters of Tyer in her successful campaign against Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, which began in the spring.

Jody Phillips took the oath as the new clerk, replacing Tyer and returning to the office she held prior to leaving for a job in the private sector. She was sworn in by Rudolph A. Sacco, retired justice of Berkshire Probate and Family Court, while Richard A. Simons, first justice of Berkshire Probate and Family Court, administered the oath to Tyer.

A major change stemming from adoption of a new governmental charter in 2013 was a four-year term for mayor, intended to allow a new mayor more time to pursue his or her agenda; and Tyer will be the first in the city's history to serve the longer term.

A reception for the new mayor and other officials was held afterward at the Berkshire Museum.

According to tradition, the mayor is invited to the council chambers after its members have concluded their organizational meeting. Krol led Tyer into the chambers shortly after 10:30 a.m., and she was greeted with a standing ovation.

In her 12-minute address to the council, the new mayor welcomed the new, returning and former officials, offering congratulations to each in turn.

"Our children are counting on us, you and me, to create safe schools that give them every educational, social and cultural advantage," she told School Committee members.

To the 11-member council, she said, "The people of Pittsfield are counting on us, you and me, to bear them in mind as we build mutual respect for one another in order to create our future and realize our shared destiny."

To Phillips, Tyer said, "Congratulations, Madam clerk and welcome back. We are in your good and trustworthy hands for all things Pittsfield."

Of Marchetti and Krol, Tyer said, "Your steady hand, wisdom and experience will serve us well as you undertake the significant responsibilities on behalf of our colleagues and our citizens."

"Pittsfield is our home," Tyer said. "Here at home we create opportunity for those who seek prosperity, we strive for economic justice, we have compassion for struggle, we celebrate success, we maximize our talent, and we build a future for this generation and the next."

The new mayor also thanked her campaign team and supporters for helping propel her to a decisive election victory that included vote majorities in each of the 14 city precincts.

"I brought with me a team of highly dedicated friends and family who devoted an entire year to this adventure," Tyer said.

Those included her mother, Rosemary Casey, campaign manager Thomas Sakshaug, publicist Christina Barrett, former City Councilor Christine Yon, Brian Johnson, Anne Pasko, Marilyn Herrman, and former Councilor Barry Clairmont, with whom she is in a relationship.

"You are the one who saw my unspoken aspirations and then gave me courage," she told Clairmont.

She also cited a "deep and broad grass-roots movement coming from every neighborhood in Pittsfield. They opened their front doors when I knocked. Some held signs in the freezing cold. You cheered at rallies. You wrote letters. You voted."

Of city residents, Tyer said, "I will remember you when I am faced with difficult decisions. I will celebrate you when you succeed. I will honor you in all that we endeavor to achieve. I will listen. I will learn. I will lead."

At the reception, Tyer said she had "resisted the temptation to give a list of projects" in her address, and tried to lay out what she termed "our guiding principles."

Fostering a collaborative atmosphere, Tyer said, is one of her overriding goals. "I am making a commitment to them," she said of city officials, "and I hope they will extend themselves to me."

Asked how it felt to become mayor, Tyer said her emotions welled at times, particularly as she thanked her parents, Larry and Rosemary Casey, during the address, saying in part: "Thank you, mom and dad, for your constant vigilance. I am here today, in this chamber, as Pittsfield's mayor because of you."

Councilors for the coming term are Marchetti, Mazzeo, Peter White and Kathleen Amuso, serving at large; and ward councilors Lisa Tully, Kevin Morandi, Nicholas Caccamo, Christopher Connell, Donna Todd Rivers, Krol and Anthony Simonelli.

The School Committee members are all incumbents — Daniel Elias, Katherine Yon, Anthony Riello, Cynthia Taylor, Pamela Farron and Josh Cutler. Tyer, as mayor, will be an ex officio member of the committee.

The Taconic Honors Chorus sang the National Anthem and the 1960s pop song, "So Happy Together," by the Turtles.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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