Councilor at Large Peter Marchetti is sworn into his third consecutive term as president of the City Council.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer thanked residents on Monday morning for putting their trust in her and said, with the help of a new City Council, that she looks to create a stronger Pittsfield.
Tyer reflected on her past term while looking toward the future during her second inaugural address, held following the Organization of Government in City Council Chambers.
"I want to thank every Pittsfield voter for participating in this election and every supporter who walked with me and beside me in this long re-election journey," Tyer said to the overflowing chamber. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. For the past 16 years without interruption, the people of Pittsfield have put their trust in me. First as a city councilor, then as the city clerk, and now as mayor. Earning the confidence of Pittsfield voters time and time again is a tremendous honor."
Before Tyer's address, the new City Council and School Committee were sworn in by City Clerk Michele Benjamin, after she was sworn in to a new term by Assistant City Clerk Malia Windrow-Carlotto.
Councilor at Large Peter Marchetti was elected as president for the third consecutive time and Councilor at Large Peter White was elected vice president.
Among those attending were North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, City Council President Paul Hopkins, Vice President Jason LaForest and Councilor Benjamin Lamb; state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark; state Sen. Adam Hinds; Sheriff Thomas Bowler; District Attorney Andrea Harrington; Central Berkshire Register of Deeds Patsy Harris; representatives for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and numerous past and present city officials and employees.
Prayers were offered by the Rev. Peter Gregory of St. Charles' Church, Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch of Temple Ashe Anum, and the Rev. Timothy Weisman of Zion Lutheran Church.
The Pledge of Allegiance was lead by Samantha Scoco of Pittsfield High and Jaylin LaCasse of Taconic High; the Kids4Harmony also performed as a prelude to the ceremony.
Newcomers Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey and Councilor at Large Yuki Cohen did the seat draw and Councilor at Large Earl Persip III and new Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi escorted the mayor to chambers.
The mayor congratulated Marchetti and White, and the entire council after thanking family, friends and colleagues, for supporting her.
"Congratulations, councilors. You have been entrusted by the people of Pittsfield to use your judgement, experience, and to make decisions and to solve problems together," she said, after being sworn in by Judge Richard A. Simons. "In every corner of this great city, you and I share the same constituency. May this shared responsibility unite us."
She also congratulated the School Committee members.
"I consider my work with you some of the most significant matters I conduct as mayor," she said. "From the moment our children walk into their schools as kindergartners until they walk across the stage as high school graduates our kids and their families are counting on us to ensure that they receive and exceptional education."
Tyer said every resident shares a similar story as she called on Pittsfield to unite after a bitter mayoral election.
"In the dawn of the new year, we share one enduring belief — we are Pittsfielders — and what binds us together is a common story about what it means to be a citizen of Pittsfield in the United States of America," she said.
She said these stories include academic, athletic, and professional achievements, quiet family traditions, devoted parishioners, and big ideas growing into great triumphs.
Tyer said as she looks toward the new year she would like to recommit to efforts of seeking diversity in the city. She looked at the council, the School Committee, and her own leadership team that are some of the most diverse groups in the city's history.
Se said there is still more work to be done and she wants to build a city where every citizen can work to achieve their dreams.
"We have a busy agenda and we will build a stronger city. A stronger Pittsfield that reflects our collective hopes, dreams, and aspirations," Tyer said. "A city that offers promise and possibility for every citizen."
She said the "Red Carpet" team she developed has hosted sessions for 14 businesses in various fields, eight of which are local. She said it has also provided support to 16 other small businesses and helped created 490 new jobs.
The city has to continue to ask "how can we?" and "plan the work and working the plan," the mayor said, and build a diverse economy to safeguard the city against another financial decline.
Tyer said her administration will continue to focus and invest in the city's parks that not only benefit residents but attract people from outside of the Pittsfield. She added that 2020 will finally bring the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail into the city limits and it will see the completion of the Westside Riverway Park.
She also spoke to progress in improving quality of life in the neighborhoods stabilizing them and demolishing blighted homes, including the 18 razed during her first term.
"Demolition is a key element to securing neighborhoods, bit it isn't the only solution," the mayor said. "As we enhance our efforts at stabilizing neighborhoods, we will undertake renovations of the former vacant and blighted single-family houses."
She added that she will reintroduce the "At Home In Pittsfield" initiative in 2020. The program designed to aid eligible homeowners in improving the exteriors of their houses was stalled in City Council last year. The initiative may be looked on more favorably by a new council in an off-election year.
"I firmly believe that small investments in exterior home improvements will give our under-resourced citizens the ability to protect their home from decline, help build up their personal wealth and create pride in their surroundings," Tyer said.
Also on the agenda is a public school master planning process to help map out the best way to configure the school system. She said the city will receive more state funding for the public schools and that some of this needs to go toward teacher salaries.
She noted that she hired more police officers during her tenure and that she will continue to use technology and partnerships to improve the Police Department and public safety.
The department recently applied for a grant that would bring federal resources to the city, the mayor said, and that the city will have to address the "crumbling" police station in the coming years.
Tyer ended on a story about how she used to work in Boston but would often drive home on the weekends. She said one time she was forced to drive through a blinding snowstorm.
Worried about cars barreling past her from behind she called her father, who told her: "Don't worry about what is going on behind you. Keep your eyes forward and maintain a steady speed."
Tyer said this is advice is just as applicable in life.
"Whenever I find myself in a challenging predicament, whenever I am tempted to spend countless hours looking backwards for answers or when I worry about what others are thinking or doing," she said. "I remember the words that carried me through dark and stormy night on the Mass Turnpike."