Thank you for taking a moment from your day to learn about what the next four years will look like under a Mazzeo Administration.
There are four pillars to my platform: 1) Controlling the unacceptable increasing crime in Pittsfield; 2) Letting our teachers teach; 3) Managing city services and; 4) Broadening opportunities for economic growth.
What threads all of these issues together is accountability and fiscal responsibility both of which demand creativity, inclusion, and transparency.
If we do not control crime, the other three pillars will fall.
What solutions will I offer? On the day I enter office I will sit down with Chief Wynn to do what I cannot as a city councilor, work directly with the Chief to establish true hot spot policing. Additionally, I will partner with all agencies necessary to help stop crime.
As opposed to the current administration’s claim of hiring more police, it’s about better using our existing resources. In Pittsfield we will establish a There is not a patrol allocation plan for Pittsfield where daily data can provide guidance to officers as to where they should be deployed. And the real impact comes from deploying large number of police to areas of the city where crime is prevalent. Four years ago, then-candidate Linda Tyer incessantly berated the previous administration for ‘’their failure to keep us safe.” And yet four years later, crime rates have only increased so it does leave one to wonder who is now to blame? I understand that the mayor is personally close to both Chief Wynn as well as DA Andrea Harrington but that closeness is causing we as a city to flail because our leadership refuses to take definitive action. We deserve better.
Next let’s talk schools. Similar to our high quality police officers in Pittsfield we also have high quality educators. That said, why are there currently 5 schools falling into corrective action by the state? Could it be that so many of our teachers are leaving in record numbers for other districts? And why are this city’s valued educators leaving in mass exodus? I deeply believe that we need to let our teachers teach and the only way we can do that is for the mayor’s office to directly interact with groups of teachers to better understand their needs and create programs that are teacher-friendly and teacher and principal-centric.
1) The School Committee needs to go into the schools at least once a month to meet with teachers;
2) I will create a cabinet of teachers and principals that I will meet with once a month for a roundtable discussion with the central administration to make certain that resources are being well-managed within the schools.
What I have observed is a growing administration and a lessening of valuable resources going directly into the schools. What I hear from teachers and principals is far too much time spent needing to adhere to rules set by a burgeoning administration rather than understanding the nuances and unique needs of each and every school and their children. Again, my mantra is budget, budget, budget. How are tax dollars being spent that provide the one essential we as a city must demand...teach our children in optimal learning environments. And I want to say something very important to you about my interest in the budget. Mayor Tyer and her team are making statements that my interest in the budget will result in the dismissal of police, firemen, and teachers. That is absurd. Given that we are under-staffed in the police department and we have teachers leaving in droves, what Administration in their right mind would let these invaluable employees go? Shame on the Tyer campaign for, again, reverting to spreading falsehoods and going negative.
I will now move onto infrastructure. In my role for the past decade as a city councilor, I have heard more complaints and concerns about our city’s infrastructure than any other set of issues. From our roads and sidewalks to parking and trash, residents are not satisfied. And they shouldn’t be. This year alone, we endured for what was a relatively mild winter, budget overages of some $2.1 million in salt, sand, and snow removal expenses. That is unacceptable. And what has been an outcry from residents, particularly our most vulnerable who are on fixed incomes - the elderly - is the unnecessary steamrolling of the $74 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade. My solution: If critically important time had been taken and a more measured approach realized, we could have negotiated a far better outcome and I am determined to reopen these negotiations when elected. My solution: it is my intention to conduct monthly audits to determine if the Commissioner is best utilizing the resources and funds allocated to this critically important department - one that directly impacts the life of every citizen.
As the next Mayor of Pittsfield, I will focus on economic growth and expanding employment and training opportunities. The Brookings Institution published a report focusing on Old Industrial Cities (OICs) and what these cities are doing to thrive in a post-industrial world. I would like to offer three solutions as to how our own post-industrial city grows stronger when it comes to jobs and workforce training.
I come from a unique position as a candidate for mayor. I am part of a family that owns a thriving set of businesses. There is a brother and sisterhood of legacy business owners in the city that understands our ongoing struggles. I cannot count the number of times owners of these businesses have asked, ‘Where is the red carpet for my business?’ These small businesses are regularly dealing with permitting, zoning, outdated regulations, and bureaucratic red tape. What can we do about it?
Solution One: Begin by creating a Small Business Advisory Council where we address these unfriendly business practices. In so doing, we can both understand their greatest challenges and how our city can support their success. I have watched for decades as these businesses support our non-profit charities and fund our kids’ sports teams. I want to demonstrate to them the same kind of commitment they’ve demonstrated for generations. In other words, creating a Red Carpet experience for those businesses who have deserved better.
A second solution that I have intersects workforce training and the GE Economic Development Fund. Our community has been plagued for years with the question of training and workforce development and our labor statistics speak to this. We have nearly as many jobs open as we do people out of work. The disconnect is that these unemployed workers are not trained to take those open jobs. We need to expand and grow our apprenticeship programs to feed businesses high quality employees.
I look at the recent Toyota program spearheaded by George Haddad as an amazing example. In speaking with George, I am excited to create more of these programs with funding resources including large corporate entities such as Toyota. By identifying the workforce needs in our areas and creating training opportunities for those positions, we will not only be growing Pittsfield businesses, but also be retaining our population. In order for our small businesses to grow and build their workforce they need our support and a mayor who will listen and pay attention to their needs.
This also speaks to our need to use GE Economic Development money for the best of all purposes - training workers. The idea of using the GE Fund to this end is truly exciting to me because it is in complete alignment with how the fund should be used. This is of particular importance in light of the mayor’s recent attempts to use it for home improvements as part of a chaotic and ill-advised plan.
A third solution I’d like to offer is connected to a growing and undeniable multi-decade trend - people who work remotely from their company or because they are a freelancer. In other words, they can live anywhere because they are not required to be in an office everyday. The statistics are staggering...most US workers will be freelancers by 2027 and, according to Forbes, 50% of the current workforce will soon be working some number of days every week remotely. There are growing numbers right here in Pittsfield. Unfortunately, because of a lack of fiber optics and high-speed internet connectivity, we are losing out to other communities. Great Barrington and others in South County (as noted in a Berkshire Eagle article only last year) have this capacity and are in a much better position for the future work environment.
My solution: Rather than potentially investing in the city becoming its own provider as suggested by the mayor, I would rather work with our delegation to simply map out how Pittsfield can access fiber optic solutions. This was a campaign promise made some eight years ago by a candidate for state representative and we are still waiting. I am determined to deliver this vitally important service to Pittsfield along with my plan for a Small Business Advisory Council and a critically needed Workforce Training Program using GE Economic Development Funds.