Our Opinion: Pittsfield firefighter candidate has earned opportunity
If someone does the time for doing a crime and turns his life around, a second chance is in order. That applies to Pittsfield firefighter hopeful Frederick Conyers Jr.
Members of the local firefighters union have objected to the appointment by Mayor Linda Tyer because of Mr. Conyers' criminal record. He served 3 1/2 years in prison following a 2003 arrest on cocaine and firearm-related charges.
At a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Conyers said he left prison determined to change his life and evidence indicates he has over the past 20 years. He has married and raised a family, established a good work record and served as a volunteer. Mr. Conyers, who grew up in Pittsfield, lost a potential basketball career to his arrest, so, along with prison, he has paid for his crime.
At the press conference, Mayor Tyer debunked the inaccurate belief that anyone convicted of a felony is forever disqualified for a Civil Service position. Mr. Conyers is on top of the current Civil Service test list, and if he is not appointed, he would assuredly win his inevitable appeal to the Civil Service Commission.
It is not clear why the firefighters' Local 2647 believes his hiring "puts its members and the city at risk," as expressed in an email to Mayor Tyer, but it is evidently not a view shared by Chief Robert Czerwinski. The email was mean-spirited in tone, and given that the mayor doesn't need the union's approval to make appointments, we hope the firefighters will give Mr. Conyers a fair chance.
The appointment will go before the City Council next Tuesday, and even though Council approval of the hiring is not required, we urge councilors to give Mr. Conyers a unanimous vote of confidence before he begins his career as a Pittsfield firefighter.