Ruberto reflects -- and looks ahead
Mayor James M. Ruberto is ending his eight years in office on a high note, presiding over a municipality celebrating 250 years first as a town and then as a city.
In an interview with The Eagle, Ruberto reflected on the honor of being mayor during Pittsfield's milestone year, the importance of the city's past to its present and future, and what Pittsfield might be like in 50 years.
Q: Every big party needs experienced planners. Is that why the city has turned to an all-volunteer committee led by Mary Rentz and Kit Dobelle, wife of former mayor Evan Dobelle?
A: Mary Rentz has demonstrated over and over and over again her incredible passion for bringing people together using public art as the backdrop: Sheeptacular, Art of the Game, and her work with the Lichtenstein Center. Kit Dobelle is very experienced in these types of affairs. She was the first lady of Pittsfield when we celebrated our country's bicentennial in 1976. As co-chairs, they are the perfect team.
Q: What does it mean to be mayor during the Pittsfield 250 celebration?
A: It's bittersweet, as I'm here to see a grand finale for how the first 250 years have ended up, but I'm doing it alone without Ellen. [His wife, Ellen Ruberto, died in July 2009]. Leading the community in the celebration is a role she was born to play.
Q: Do you think her spirit is guiding Pittsfield 250?
Q:What do you hope city residents and Berkshire County take away from this year?
A: Pittsfield 250 allows us to reflect on a rich heritage of innovation and benefits of a melting pot that creates a community. We need to appreciate all that's gone on before 2011 and how the community has met challenges as we've grown. You can see the resiliency of the people who shaped Pittsfield.
Q: Is Pittsfield 250 helping to restore pride in the city?
A: I think the pride has been building for the last eight years and continues to build. The whole notion of going "back to the future" by restoring the Colonial Theatre and building a six-screen cinema [Beacon Cinema] brings us back to the core of what Pittsfield once was -- the downtown of Berkshire County. Now with the Pittsfield 250, we are able to leverage off the pride that's been growing in recent years.
Q: You've been proud of how Pittsfield has laid claim to a number of firsts, such as 1791, the year of the first documented mention of baseball in America. How important has being first been to the city's legacy?
A: We're not only first in baseball, but in hosting the first collegiate baseball game, between Williams and Amherst [in 1859]. We had the country's first agricultural fair. Now fast forward to today, and little old Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- through General Dynamics -- is developing weapons systems and defense systems that are second to none. We've proven we can accomplish what other communities have yet to achieve.
Q: What do you envision Pittsfield will be like during its 300th-anniversary celebration?
A: That's hard to say. When Pittsfield had its bicentennial in 1961, could we ever have anticipated the advances in medicine and the creation of the Internet? So when it comes to specifics for the future, I have none. However, I do expect a much more integrated society in the next 50 years, and through that integration the city will be living dreams that can't be stated today. Pittsfield residents will be more compassionate and tolerant of their neighbors and a more enlightened people through education.
The corner office
Mayors of Pittsfield since it became a city in 1891:
Mayor Term Party
Charles E. Hibbard 1891 Democrat
Jabez L. Peck 1892-93 Republican
John Crawford Crosby 1894-95 Democrat
Walter F. Hawkins 1896-97 Republican
William W. Whiting 1898-99 Democrat
Hezekiah S. Russell 1900-01 Republican
Daniel England 1902 Democrat
Harry Dwight Sisson 1903-04 Republican
Allen H. Bagg 1905-07 Republican
William H. MacInnis 1908-10 Democrat
Kelton B. Miller 1911-12 Republican
Patrick J. Moore 1913-14 Democrat
George W. Faulkner 1915-16 Republican
William C. Moulton 1917-19 Republican
Louis A. Merchant 1920 Republican
Michael W. Flynn 1921-22 Democrat
Charles W. Power 1923-24 Republican
Fred T. Francis 1925-26 Republican
Harry G. West 1927 Republican
Jay Preston Barnes 1928-31 Democrat
Patrick J. Moore 1932-33 Democrat
Allen H. Bagg 1934-37 Republican
James Fallon 1938-47 Democrat
Robert T. Capeless 1948-55 Democrat
Harvey E. Lake 1956-57 Republican
Raymond L. Haughey 1958-63 Democrat
Robert B. Dillon 1964-65 Republican
Remo Del Gallo 1965-67 Democrat
Donald G. Butler 1968-73 Republican
Evan S. Dobelle 1974-76 Republican
Paul E. Brindle III 1977-79 Democrat
Charles L. Smith 1980-87 Democrat
Anne E. Wojtkowski 1988-91 Democrat
Edward M. Reilly 1992-97 Democrat
Gerald S. Doyle Jr. 1998-01 Democrat
Sara Hathaway 2002-03 Democrat
James M. Ruberto 2004- Democrat
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