Our Opinion: Tyer wins a mandate for change in Pittsfield
Pittsfield voted for change Tuesday night and decisively so, giving Mayor-elect Linda Tyer a strong mandate as the city's first four-year mayor.
Pittsfield's recent history of hotly contested mayoral elections made Mr. Tyer's roughly 60 percent to 40 percent victory over incumbent Daniel Bianchi all the more significant. Ms. Tyer, the current city clerk and a former ward councilor, has considerable potential as mayor, but this decisive a victory must be interpreted in large part as a referendum on the job performance of the incumbent mayor.
Mr. Bianchi, who ran unopposed two years ago, essentially had a four-year term as mayor. Those four years were marred by a lack of transparency, pointless discord and a reluctance to acknowledge that political opponents had a right to a differing opinion. City voters essentially had their minds made up by the preliminary election, and a general campaign in which the mayor emphasized the blame game rather than sell his administration wasn't going to change any minds.
Ms. Tyer's first challenge will be to pull the city together, a project she is well-suited for. Rather than re-fight past political battles, we expect her to move forward in a positive manner, at first by reaching out to supporters of Mayor Bianchi. Politics and governing will produce disagreement, but it never needs to be personal, which it so often is in Pittsfield.
In North Adams, Mayor Richard Alcombright, who had a battle on his hands going into the general election, won a solid victory over former Mayor John Barrett III. The incumbent emphasized an open conciliatory approach as mayor and in the campaign and it carried the day.
Pittsfield and North Adams confront severe challenges, none of which a mayor can make a dent in without an open, inclusive approach. Voters, especially in Pittsfield, made it clear that they expect to see that in the years ahead.