My name is Scott Lang. I am an attorney in the City of New Bedford. I have lived and practiced law here for 27 years (one-half of my life). For 12 of those years, I served as an Assistant District Attorney. I have been involved in various community activities for all of these 27 years. My wife and I came here to have, and raise a family; all of our children were born in New Bedford at St. Luke’s Hospital. During this time, I have come to know and have represented many of the people in this City in some of their most serious problems.
Today I would like to explain why I am running for the office of Mayor of New Bedford. I am not a politician. I have never been a candidate for a governmental office. I do, however, know a good deal about politics and the importance of a vibrant exchange of ideas during an election. There will be no gimmicks in my campaign – no cute public relations stunts – no staged campaign events. What you see is what you get. I will say what I mean, and I will mean what I say. There will be no empty promises, only my word that every important issue will be considered and discussed honestly. That is a democracy; that is the cornerstone to the greatness of America. This open, energetic debate will be one of the benefits of this exciting multi-candidate Mayor’s race. Our City will be strengthened and united as a result of a positive exchange of ideas leading up to the election. I pledge to work hard to earn every vote from every voter in our City, from the youth vote to the senior vote. I pledge to administer an open, energetic, honest government that sets an example for the citizens of the City. I pledge that integrity will be synonymous with the City Government. My policy will be one of inclusion not secrecy and exclusion.
I know the City’s people and I know what the City’s problems are. You don’t need to conduct a political poll to know what the citizens of New Bedford are concerned about. New Bedford has the potential to be a great city. We have hard-working industrious people who love their families and the City. I love the diversity of the City, I believe that’s what makes New Bedford a dynamic place and gives it is tremendous strength. We are blessed with a location which is unrivaled anywhere in the United States. We are located on one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. We are an hour from Boston, one-half hour from Providence, three and one half-hours from New York. There is no reason why New Bedford is not one of the beacon cities of the northeast. Unfortunately, under the present administration, our city has lost its way. The pride that we all feel in our city has become tarnished because of an administration that is unable to provide leadership on key issues.
These are the key issues:
- violent crime and drugs
- the lack of open communication with police, firefighters, teachers and city workers
- the lack of respect for our neighborhoods
- the lack of a comprehensive economic development plan
- rising property taxes and eroding city services
- potholes and streets in total disrepair
- street debris and trash strewn in our neighborhoods
- snow removal which is slow and inefficient
- a school system that needs to be improved and a drop out rate that is unacceptable
This administration must be held accountable for the decline in the services and the infrastructure of the City. The people, the families and the neighborhoods of New Bedford deserve better. The children of the City of New Bedford deserve better.
The administration says that New Bedford is on the move. But I ask you, if you tour the neighborhoods, does this look like a city that is on the move? Does this look like a city where the administration is “getting the job done?” The ultimate question is, are the neighborhoods of the city better off under this administration’s leadership? Are you safe in your neighborhood? Are your children getting a better education? Is the City heading in the right direction? Are you better off today than you were two years ago? I think the answer to these questions is “no.”
The City is Adrift
This administration has let the people of this City down. It no longer works for or protects the interests of the citizens of the City. Special interests and undue influence dominate many important decisions. This administration no longer has the trust of the people of the City. This administration thinks it owns the office. In fact, they think they own the City. Let’s be frank, the newspaper ads this Mayor is running tells a much distorted view of New Bedford. This Mayor is obscuring the reality of our City’s plight for the sole purpose of another election victory. Let’s debate the real issues, let’s look at the real facts, let’s not gloss over our problems with an expensive ad campaign based on falsehoods. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, “you can fool some of the people of New Bedford some of the time, but you can’t tell them to ignore their own two eyes and their own common sense.”
The fact is, this administration does not communicate with the dedicated employees of our City. This has lead to hostility between our most important public servants, teachers, police, fire, and public works, in fact, all of our valued city employees and the administration. The administration has led the City into collective bargaining chaos. I will change the way the Mayor’s office deals with all City employees. I will respect everyone. The National Labor Relations Act requires good faith bargaining, an honest exchange of ideas between the two sides, management and labor. It does not require the parties to agree on any issue, but it does require civility, respect and adherence to the rule of law. I will adhere to these principles and I will expect every Union to do the same. The people of this City deserve no less. You cannot enforce the law and receive the respect of the citizens of the City if you do not obey the law. All laws, including laws governing labor relations. I will ask each union to work with me to provide our City with the finest services possible.
These are serious times for our City. Our City is in crisis. Personal safety is the number one issue that dominates our day-to-day experiences. I believe the good citizens of the City need safe streets and neighborhoods again. The problem is difficult, but coordination and cooperation between our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors can rid the lawless individuals from our City. I will make personal and property security the number one priority of my administration. The City cannot move forward unless it eliminates the cycle of violent crime.
Likewise, our City cannot move forward without a priority effort to improve our school system. Our drop-out rate is unacceptable. I will put all available resources into improving the quality of our education system. Good education means economic growth. I will focus the City’s efforts on meeting this goal. I want all our children to benefit from the best education to prepare them for future careers. I will commit to significantly lowering the drop-out rate.
A master growth plan for the good of the entire City must be developed and followed. An economic blueprint must be developed and followed. The Mayor has a role in developing both plans, but I will always put the greater good of the collective body over the primary gain of a few. Downtown New Bedford needs a long range plan. The gilded pattern of unrelated development must be revisited. A parcel-by-parcel decision making process, such as the recent Home Depot project, is not an economic plan. We need usable land for economic development. The Standard-Times field presents an opportunity for job creation and economic growth. Clearly the City needs to develop a plan to attract a hotel and restaurants which will be the anchor for tourism and conference activities. Other cities with far less to offer than ours have made this a starting point for downtown economic development and tourism.
Every item in the City’s budget will be scrutinized carefully. We need to be sure that our taxes are spent wisely and without waste. Let’s start with this small item; the Mayor doesn’t need a gas guzzling S.U.V. The bottom line is that I pledge to stem the tide of rising taxes and fees which have begun to squeeze the property owners of New Bedford while showing very little results for the increased taxes.
The City needs to provide the resources for safe, clean, desirable neighborhoods. We need to beautify our City. The citizens and the City need to enter into a joint partnership to clean up neighborhoods, paint houses and plant trees. The City can do this by providing services to help neighborhoods help themselves.
The Fishing Industry
The number one port in the United States is a key part of New Bedford future prosperity. Working with our State and Federal delegations, a common sense approach must be used to solve conservation concerns, economic hardships and the decimation of the industry’s health and pension plans. No one knows more about fishing than our port’s fishermen and the companion industries. We must hold the Federal Government’s feet to the fire on these issues that affect New Bedford directly.
We have a major underutilized resource that separates our City from others – our protected harbor and waterfront. The HDC must be supported by the Mayor’s office and must work closely with the neighborhoods to formulate comprehensive, realistic development plans for this economic engine.
Streets and Infrastructure
New Bedford has fallen into disrepair, as a result, our image has suffered. I will fill the potholes, clean the streets, fix the sidewalks, trim and plant trees and make our neighborhoods proud.
The City needs a comprehensive, coordinated tourism program. Obviously, many of the city’s underlying problems need to be addressed in order to make New Bedford a destination that families put on their vacation agenda. I think just the change of administration will help lift the pall from our City’s image.
Homeless Citizens and Families
Our homeless population is a sad comment on our society and economy. These individuals are the least fortunate of all our City’s citizens. The City needs to be proactive in helping to arrange for shelter, health care, training and employment. Together we need to provide the basis for a productive life, if appropriate, or initiate programs which provide a gentle respectful support structure for the people who are living on our streets.
Relations with City Council
I will work closely with the City Council. I will bring a positive, energetic and respectful spirit to all discussions and issues. I will respect the important role they play in the governance of the City and their very special link to the neighborhoods. I will work with every City Councilor to ensure that all of the neighborhoods receive quality city services. Every neighborhood in the City deserves nothing less.
My position regarding City Boards will be very clear. There will be no power elite. Every proposal before the City will be judged on its own merit and the cost and benefit to the City. Proposals will not be favored or awarded based on who presented it or who sponsored it.
Home Depot Project
My position on the Home Depot project is quite simple. Let’s look at it again. Let’s look at the RFP process again. Let’s look at whether the last, and best, piece of city property, on the interstate, and on the water, should be developed into a “box store” with a limited number of full time jobs, and a limited number of part time jobs, many without employee benefits. And further, will these really be additional jobs, or will the employees simply come from its Dartmouth location?
Then let’s look at whether the merits of the proposal are independent of the administration’s former City Solicitor earning a brokerage commission on this project. If it makes sense for the people of New Bedford, I will support this project whole heartedly. For the record, I am very skeptical about the Home Depot development project and the events that brought it about. I believe that the alleged benefits of this project just don’t add up for the people of New Bedford.
In sum, I believe we deserve all of the facts on any City project before the City commits its prime gateway or any other property to any developer. I will work to secure any legitimate project for this City. I will work with any developer, company, or individual to create positive growth for this City. However, I will not allow anyone to take advantage of the people of New Bedford.
Closing and Challenge to the Mayor
Peoples’ lives revolve around their families. There are disputes from time to time, but most families are united and watch out for the good of each other. New Bedford is a big family, nearly 100,000 strong. We may have our differences, but we must rally together. We must respect each other and we must watch out for each other. New Bedford needs to become a friendly united City. Together we can solve a lot of problems this way.
We must begin from the foundation, the neighborhoods, and work up. The true test of whether our city supports its neighborhoods and families is whether our grown children desire to return and live in New Bedford and contribute to our city’s vitality. Today they don’t see New Bedford as a viable option. I am going to try to change this trend.
I intend to usher in an era when good faith communication between the different segments of our society is the rule – where people seek to live in New Bedford to bring up their families. I think all of us who live in New Bedford need to take steps to bring positive change to our city government and our neighborhoods, and I hope to facilitate a spirit of mutual respect and responsibility throughout the community. I don’t have all the answers, but I hope with everyone’s creativity, energy and help, we will be able to solve the problems the City faces today.
Finally, a mayor is elected by the people for a two-year term. No one person owns the office. No one was born to it and all mayors who want to be re-elected must respect the election process and abide by the law.
I challenge the Mayor to meet me and the other candidates in this race in every neighborhood for a series of positive hearings, discussions, debates, forums, coffees or teas– whatever he would like. Let him explain, defend and/or take credit for his policies, successes and failures. For my part, I will present a positive alternative to the voters and let them decide who should lead this City. When you examine all the candidates in this race, I believe you will find that I have the education, the professional experience and a record of 27 years of practicing law and hands-on community involvement. I am not a professional politician; I believe you will find that I am the most capable candidate to bring about positive change for New Bedford.
Please join with me to foster a positive attitude and a sense of commitment for the betterment of New Bedford. I ask you for your help in this effort and my campaign for Mayor.