Willing to Declare War

The following article appeared in The Weekly Compass on October 27, 2005, Volume 1, Number 22, Page 27.

I announced my candidacy for Mayor on August 4th, eight weeks before the primary. Since that time, I have met with thousands of people throughout New Bedford, listening to the problems of the neighborhoods and hearing creative and heart-felt possible solutions to issues that concern the very quality of life of our citizens and their families. These issues are the topics that are discussed at the kitchen tables of every home in the City. Among them are: the rising and very frightening crime rate in this City, the perception that the City is extremely dangerous, a school system that is under-performing and has one of the highest drop-out rates in the state, the topic of potholes and trash that blows throughout our streets, and finally, the issue of ever-rising taxes and an erosion in our city services. The taxpayers and citizens of our City expect more from their mayor than simple slogans, bumper sticker campaigns and campaign rhetoric. I will work with the neighborhoods to find solutions to these problems. I will listen and respect the people of this City and work with them to bring City resources to the neighborhoods. To fight crime, we must utilize all of our police force in a community policing effort. This means officers out in the neighborhoods establishing relationships and monitoring, intervening, policing and responding day-in and day-out to the drug sales, the violence, the robberies, the house breaks, the disorderly conduct, the prostitution, and all acts of criminal conduct must be confronted and prosecuted. We will need to provide the police with the best tools available—computer equipment that works, sophisticated surveillance, appropriate forensic resources and bullet-proof vests. I will bring in state and federal assistance to provide manpower and equipment to assist our City in this effort. We must reopen the north and south end police stations for deployment purposes, which will provide a presence in the communities and also quicken response time. A mobile command center, which costs $800.00 per day to man, and which costs $292,000.00 per year, is a waste of taxpayers’ money and simply a campaign gimmick by a mayor who cares more about savings his own job than protecting the people of this City. The mobile command center is not being utilized appropriately and ties up a command officer.

We need a mayor who is willing to declare war on crime in the City of New Bedford, rather than dividing the City with negative campaign tactics and running a campaign against the entire police force of this City. I want the neighborhoods of New Bedford to work with the police in fighting crime. I want people to respect the police and I fully expect the police to serve and protect our community with the utmost respect for all citizens.

Our School Department must re-direct its priority to the very basic classroom unit. We must support our teachers by providing them with the necessary classroom aides and materials which they need to best ensure each individual student’s success. Too much of our school department’s money is spent on administrators and perks such as expensive vehicles. This money should be re-directed to support the classrooms. Goals must be set and kept regarding reading proficiency in kindergarten through third grade, so that our children have the essential learning skills that will enable them to succeed as they go on to high elementary grades, the middle school and the high school. If a child is unable to read, he or she will be unable to successfully complete required school work and meeting testing standards in the future. Our City cannot afford to have any child feel or be perceived as a failure. Our school system must be designed to ensure success and positive self-esteem for each and every child. The fun must be put back in the school curriculum, i.e. music, arts, gym, health classes and extra-curricular activities. Our children deserve a well-rounded educational experience.

Our neighborhoods have been neglected for too long. Streets and sidewalks must be routinely maintained, not just during an election year. Trees must be pruned and replaced when needed and our City should be clean and must be eye-appealing. In the case of New Bedford, we have one of the more beautiful cities in the country; it is inexcusable for City services to have eroded to the point where New Bedford presents an undesirable image.

The people of this City are actively engaged in fixing up their houses, planting beautiful gardens and our City must respond with a beautification effort at the neighborhood level.

The Mayor has raised taxes approximately 54% since he took office. For every $100.00 you paid when he took office, you now pay approximately $154.00. On a $1,000.00 tax bill, this is an increase of approximately $540.00. The City’s taxpayers cannot afford any more tax increases. We must live within our means and establish a zero-based budget process where each dollar in the budget is justified and accounted for. I will eliminate the fat and wasteful spending from the Mayor’s budget. The philosophy I will utilize is simply this: Is the expenditure in the best interest of the City; is it in the best interest of the taxpayer; can we afford the expenditure. My priorities will be to resolve problems in this City directly, through the neighborhoods, rather than through a top-heavy administration. My philosophy of governing is solving problems with the people of this City, from the neighborhoods up, not from City Hall down.

I am very optimistic about the future of our City. I look forward to listening and working with all of our citizens. I will be a full-time mayor you can trust and who provides full-time leadership.