Candidates talk about city’s image issues

By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

This article appeared on September 27, 2005 in the Standard Times
NEW BEDFORD — The city of New Bedford has historically had image problems, both outside the city and among its own residents. A recent UMass Dartmouth survey found that many suburbanites who live near New Bedford are reluctant to come to the city to shop or visit attractions because of the perception that it isn’t a safe place. There is an “inferiority complex” among New Bedford’s own citizens that adds to its image problems. The five major candidates for mayor were asked how they would polish up New Bedford’s image.

The first thing that would improve the city’s image is to improve public safety, Mr. Lang said, and to clean and repair the streets, and demand excellence from the public school system.

“From a practical, functional, visual standpoint, the city has been left to decay,” he said. “I’m going to be a mayor that gets trees planted, that gets flowers planted, that paints lines on the streets and makes sure the street lights are working. I’ll be maintaining the streets all year round, not just two weeks before the election.”

Mr. Lang said that, if elected, he will look to show New Bedford as “a former smokestack city undergoing a renaissance.”

The tourists using the fast ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard are not coming into New Bedford, he said. “No one has harnessed the potential of that service,” he said. “We have a captive audience, and we have to engage them.”

He said he would offer full tour packages of the city to every ferry passenger.