Tyer Bullish On Pittsfield’s Progress In Bid For Second Term
The mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is running for a second four-year term.
Democratic Mayor Linda Tyer chose to make her remarks at Framework – a downtown co-working space that she noted didn’t exist when she first came into office.
“The signage on the windows is especially meaningful to me because it says ‘work here, work better,’" said Tyer. "And I think that’s a perfect complement to all of the things that we’ve been doing in government over the past three years and into our fourth year.”
Recalling her inaugural address, Tyer reiterated a vision of Pittsfield that provided opportunity, prosperity, economic justice, and support for the struggling.
“I have long believed that government must be a community partner, not this far off force to be reckoned with," said the mayor. "So, what’s good for Pittsfielders? A powerful organization. Strong, resilient neighborhoods all across our city. And building our economic future.”
Tyer – who beat Mayor Dan Bianchi in 2015, when she was serving as city clerk – listed her administration’s accomplishments over her first term. She began with the preservation of the city’s incineration plant.
“And when we saved Covanta, we saved 25 jobs. And we kept in operation two manufacturing facilities, and we saved the city of Pittsfield an unanticipated, unexpected $462,000 expenditure in the Municipal Operating Budget,” said Tyer.
She highlighted the city’s relationship with MassDevelopment – which she characterized as robust, especially as it pertains to work being done in the lower-income Morningside neighborhood.
“We created the Tyler Street Storefront Improvement Project, and we’re now in the design stages of Tyler Street Streetscape,” she said.
Tyer said her administration has secured about $17 million in state, federal, and foundation grants for the city since 2016. She also touted accomplishments like paving over 41 miles of city roads, and took credit for the creation of 113 jobs through city incentives given to local businesses. Tyer then turned to a hot topic that just months ago she told WAMC that she “didn’t have the answer [to] today.”
“Our ongoing response to criminal activity in our city includes a $1 million investment in our municipal budget for more police officers, and the implementation of ShotSpotter, the state of the art gunshot detection technology,” said Tyer.
Pressed by reporters on the subject, she praised the city’s community policing program and said that a social worker is now working with the police department on deescalating potentially violent situations.
“We are working at it, and we are examining it, and we are doing what we can with the resources that we have to try to address this issue," she said. "Often times it isn’t just about crime, it’s about the underlying factors that are associated with crime – people who struggle with addiction, people who struggle with addiction, people who might have mental illness who don’t know how to get treatment.”
Turning to economic growth, Tyer said her administration had leveraged more resources for economic development, enhanced market rate housing through the redevelopment of historic properties into lofts, and contributed to the funding of the Berkshire Innovation Center – the long-anticipated business incubation facility.
“We advanced 11 community preservation projects in our city, and we focused on historic preservation and open space and recreation,” said the mayor.
Tyer noted that she had lowered taxes for residential and commercial taxpayers for the first time in 11 years, and lowered the tax bill for the average single-family homeowner for the first time since 1993.
“Together with our partners, we advocated for $150,000 for winter overflow shelters for our homeless brothers and sisters,” continued Tyer.
She finished her speech by pointing to evidence of the city’s vitality, like the online retailer Wayfair’s announcement that it will open a call center that could create as many as 300 jobs in the community.
“Strong home sales, $52 million in new growth in one year, tangible things that didn’t exist the year before that exist today," she said. "People are investing in our city.”
Tyer was asked about criticism that the city’s resurgence has stalled.
“All of the sort of metrics that we look at to see how we’re doing – we’re creating new jobs. The commercial properties on North Street are selling. Our commercial properties in the outer areas of the city are selling. People are making investments," she said. "It cannot be denied.”
Along with supporters, business leaders, and community activists, city councilors Peter Marchetti, Earl Persip, and Pete White were there to support Tyer. All confirmed that they too are seeking re-election this fall.
So far, Tyer has no announced challengers.