|Lothrop Seeks Return to Pittsfield City Council, Jumps Into Ward 5 Race|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:01AM / Thursday, June 13, 2019
|Lothrop with his wife, Katy, and daughter Christina after announcing to a group of friends that he intends to run for election, again.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former City Councilor Jonathan Lothrop is looking to reclaim his seat at the dais.
Less than a week after Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers announced she would not be seeking re-election, Lothrop announced a campaign for the seat he held for more than a decade.
"I feel like I still have a lot to offer. I took a break for a while, circumstances are different, the kids are out of the house, I have a little more time. I enjoy it and I enjoy the opportunity to improve the community," Lothrop said.
Lothrop has a long history with the city dating back to his first role in the mid-1990s on the Human Services Commission. He served in numerous capacities in city government and in 2003 was elected to what would become a long stint on the City Council. In 2015, he opted not to seek re-election and Rivers ran, and won, the seat.
"At that time, I wanted to spend a little more time with the family. Our youngest daughter was about two years away from graduating high school and I felt it would be a good time to be home a little bit more," Lothrop said.
Professionally he has worked with the state Department of Children and Families in Pittsfield for just about 30 years.
"In my current role, I'm in charge of what they refer to as family resource social workers, which are the social workers who are in charged with licensing foster homes, making sure the children have a place to stay at night," Lothrop said.
"Obviously it is a big job, especially with the heroin epidemic. As a social worker in Berkshire County, I've dealt with a lot of folks, seen a lot of situations, and been in a lot of homes in this community. I have a pretty good sense of the issues people struggle with on a day to day basis."
He got married to his wife Katy Miller and raised two children in the city. Lothrop still serves on the Conservation Commission. On Wednesday he reflected on some of his successes during his time.
"I was very involved in the Civic Authority issue in which I was a critic of the Civic Authority and worked to defeat that and feel confident that was the right move," Lothrop said.
He had served on two roles regarding the airport. He was a co-leader of a citizens for a sensible airport plan when the reconstruction there was first under consideration. He said that advocacy ultimately led to a number of neighborhood concerns being alleviated such as reducing the amount of farmland taken, keeping South Mountain Road open during construction, and even getting trees replanted where they were torn out.
"If you look at the alternative we proposed, that's basically what they did," Lothrop said.
He said he supported the new Taconic High School project and former Mayor James Ruberto's anti-blight plans. He was also supportive of the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency opposing new mandates that ultimately led to the reconstruction of the wastewater treatment plan now underway.
"I have a strong record of advocating for the needs of the residents of Ward 5. As your Ward Councilor for 12 yrs, I addressed issues from potholes and street repairs, to the airport, transfer station, South Street, new Taconic School building project, city parks, and the revitalization of Downtown. I have a record of delivering results for the residents of Ward 5," Lothrop said.
He uses those as examples of the types of advocacy he'd like to bring to the council.
"I think sometimes politics in this town can be a little driven by emotion and a little less based on the fact set. What I hope to bring to the council is a voice that can articulate a lot of those point of view and bring facts that can make a difference with how things functions," Lothrop said.
At this point, he particularly is calling for reinvestment back into the city. For example, even though he opposed the renovation of the wastewater treatment plant and argued that much of the mandates were excessive, he said the need to invest in the wastewater and water system is needed.
"In my opinion, one of the things we need to do in this community is understand that there is no free lunch and if we want a city that is nice and clean and vibrant, there must be an investment. We have to invest in our roads. We have to invest in our infrastructure," Lothrop said.
Later adding, "It is essential that we continue to invest in our community, so our citizens, our children, and our grandchildren can continue to live and work in Pittsfield and enjoy a good quality of life."
He said there are some councilors who will "save a nickel to save a nickel" but not look at the overall return on investments. That's the perspective he plans to take.
But the same time, the role of a ward councilor is making sure the basic services are provided, he said.
"A lot of the issues that matter to people are the basics — making sure the streets get plowed correctly, making sure the garbage gets picked up, making sure the schools are good, making sure that when you dial 911 there is somebody at your house in three to four minutes," Lothrop said.
He backs efforts to bolster staffing in the Police and Fire departments and would like to focus on education programs to better train the city's population to align with the available jobs. A big challenge in the city, Lothrop said, is that people need higher paying positions.
Lothrop said he wasn't planning to return to the council at first. He said he felt he made a commitment to back down and then had supported Rivers' bid. He wasn't going to challenge Rivers despite saying multiple constituents asking him about it, or even running for other offices.
"As soon as that information got out there, my phone started blowing up, people were calling me left, right, and center, really supporting me to run again," Lothrop said.