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Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer will not run for a third term

Mayor Linda Tyer holds a "Tyer For Mayor" sign in front of a brick wall
Josh Landes
Pittsfield, Massachusetts Mayor Linda Tyer during her 2019 reelection campaign.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts Mayor Linda Tyer announced today that she will not seek a third term this year. Tyer was sworn in in 2016 after previous stints in public service as Ward 3 city councilor and city clerk, becoming the first Pittsfield mayor to serve a four-year term. She unseated incumbent Dan Bianchi in the 2015 race, and defeated then-city councilor Melissa Mazzeo in a hard-fought 2019 election. City council president Peter Marchetti and former city councilor John Krol are already running for mayor this year. Tyer spoke with WAMC this afternoon.

TYER: This particular decision to not seek reelection really was personal and professional. I have been in elected public office for almost 20 years. I was first elected to the city council back in 2004, and I have had so many amazing experiences throughout my tenure. And so, I think for me professionally, this is the right time to step aside. And there's also some personal elements to this decision as well. But I also think that now is the time for the community to have new leadership. I think that it's good for a community to engage in a rigorous debate about the future of our city and for the voters to select new leadership. So, I'm, you know, those were some of the main things that I thought about when making my decision.

WAMC: What are your priorities for your last months in office?

I think I want to be focused on the housing initiatives that we have launched with the American Rescue Plan, I'm really hopeful to see construction begin at Site 9, I hope to make more progress on Wahconah Park, I'd like to see the public school strategic plan, make more progress on that. So those are just some of the things that that I'm looking forward to thinking about over this next year.

Now, the two candidates currently running to replace you are City Council President Peter Marchetti, who you've worked closely with in a variety of fashions over the many years of your public service, and former city councilor John Krol, who, by the end of his tenure had a more strained relationship with you and Mr. Marchetti. I'm interested- At this time, are you going to make an endorsement in the race?

I'm not going to do that at this time. I think both candidates have experience and also offer very different leadership styles. So, you know, I'm going to be obviously very interested in what they have to say about the future of our city, and I'm like every other resident, every other voter. It matters to me who serves as our mayor. So, I suspect that at some point, I will share my feelings about who I think is the next best person to serve as Pittsfield mayor.

At this time, do you have any sense of what life will hold for you after you step down from the mayor's office?

I don't. I have no specific plan. And there's some anxiety about that. But there's also some excitement too, because I'm sort of keeping my eyes open on opportunities that might come up. But it might also be a fine time to read all those books that I have accumulated on my bookshelf.

At this point, when you think back over your time in office, what do you feel like are some of the high-water marks of your experience leading Pittsfield?

Oh, I think some of the things that I'm proudest of is establishing the city's red carpet team and really being innovative in the way that we support business and job creation and capital investment. I was really pleased that we were able to bring a unique funding program into our neighborhoods with At Home In Pittsfield. I know, it would sound strange to say this, but I think that even though COVID was extraordinarily difficult and at times heartbreaking, the experience of being part of the task force, I think, in the long run will be one of the highlights of my professional life, just being part of that collaboration that, really, we brought together in crisis management, and there were no egos at that table. And it was it, it really meant a lot to me to have that team of people helping our community through this crisis. And then truthfully, the American Rescue Plan and having that sort of once in a lifetime funding source available in the community to help us recover, I'm really proud of the way that we brought, the way that we put a plan in place for how to best use the American Rescue Plan.

When you look back over the regrets and challenges of the job, I'm also interested to hear from you what stands out. For example, the collapse of the Police Advisory and Review Board that you launched- does that rank up there in disappointments from your time in office?

Well, I mean, I think that that was challenged- You know, the Police Advisory and Review Board was challenged from the beginning because the members wanted to have more power than they were able to have just by statute here in the commonwealth. But I think there are other things that have been really more difficult for me. So, you know, for example, when ServiceNet closed the homeless shelter and we had our homeless brothers and sisters, camping in Springside Park, that was very difficult. That was something that I think a lot about, honestly, because my initial reaction was crisis management, let's make sure we have resources brought into the park to help people find housing or with medical care, make sure they have food, make sure that they have access to bathroom facilities. And I always am wondering if that was the best approach, or if I should have been more insistent that ServiceNet reopen the shelter. So that was a very difficult period of time that I self-reflect on quite a bit. And then the other really sort of heartbreaking experience for all of us in our community was the death of Miguel Estrella. That has continued to be something I think about. Could I have been doing more prior to that tragedy to protect the people of our community? And so, you know, those are, I think, two of the things that I will reflect on over the course of the rest of my life.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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