After decade on City Council, John Krol to leave Pittsfield politics
PITTSFIELD — When John Krol first got into city politics, the energy was palpable, he recalls.
It began in 2005 working under former Mayor Jim Ruberto.
Downtown was undergoing a reawakening, he said, pointing to the rise of The Colonial Theatre, Barrington Stage Company and the Beacon Cinema.
He was elected to the City Council in 2009, and since then, "I poured my heart and soul into the city."
But after 10 years on the council, he said he's ready to move on.
"We invested here," he said during an interview with his wife, Allison Johnson Krol, in their Trova Terrace home. "We raised our family here and I think that now we're ready for a new adventure."
In January, he started a new sales position in Newton for a senior living company called Benchmark. After finishing his current term, he said, he'll pack up the family and head east.
"It was just a great opportunity to take," he said of the position as director of community relations.
And while it was that spark of energy that drew him into city politics, he said, the air has since grown tepid.
"Today, I think we've kind of lost that magic a little bit," he said.
Focus on family
He launched the radio show "Good Morning, Pittsfield," as a way to infuse positive Pittsfield messaging into the local conversation. And later, he said, he worked to do the same with "The John Krol Show" via Facebook Live.
The young couple also had three boys during that time. Their oldest, Arden is 6; while their youngest, Beckett, is 3.
Krol and his wife, who worked for former state Sen. Ben Downing, said they seriously considered a run for mayor in recent years.
But "it's very hard on a family," Allison said, noting how young the children are.
While a mayoral run can be a challenge for a young family, Krol said, he emphasized that it's very doable to balance family life with a City Council seat. He said he'd like to see more young parents take the plunge, as it brings a valuable perspective to the council.
He'd like to see the city overcome its issues with violent crime, he said, and renew its commitment to education. Approving the new Taconic High School building was a good start, but he said school buildings are deteriorating and more must be done.
"Everything is impacted by the quality of education," he said, noting that struggles in the city's schools affect its ability to attract and retain young families.
For his part, he won't rule out the possibility of moving back to Pittsfield at some point, but for now "we're excited" about the prospect of new experiences in the Boston area.
Lofty ideas should once again take stage in Pittsfield, he said, offering one up himself: what about a performing arts school in the former St. Joseph Central High School building? It could make sense, he said, given the wealth of cultural institutions in the county.
Mass MoCA seemed farfetched once, too, he said of the transformation of a former industrial complex into what is now the country's largest contemporary art museum.
"We could use another boost," he said, reflecting on the political climate of a decade ago. "We could use another round of that vision."
City politics are too often divided along arbitrary lines, he said.
"The divide is as big as it has ever been," he said, describing the two factions as "more about relationships" than anything ideological.
And "a good healthy mayor's race" would do the city good, he said, as would more contested council races.
With Ward 7 Councilor Tony Simonelli and himself bowing out of city politics — and possibly others, he said — perhaps there's a chance to get new energy at the city's helm.
"Maybe there's a good opportunity to shake things up a little bit," he said.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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