City Councilor Bill Martin made official what many had assumed, that he would not be running for re-election to the City Council. Jim Milinazzo is still leaving people wondering what he is going to do. While I like Councilor Millinazzo, my question is, does it matter if he doesn’t run?
To date the announced candidates may be “walking the neighborhoods” meeting people but have you heard any one of them talking about specific issues and things this present council hasn’t done? I have not. Nones have done anything to make them a strong front-runner.
If Jim Milinazzo doesn’t run, it just means we lose a very good public servant but I don’t think it means we will see an increase of viable candidates. Since Bill Martin announced he was not running, have we seen any new strong challengers? I also don’t buy those who complain Martin or Milinazzo should have made their decision by now to generate interest with open seats. If your interested in running it shouldn’t matter.
Dave Conway who has served on the School Committee the pass few years, announced his Council candidacy early on and has a decent base in Belvidere would have to be considered the front-runner for the open seat. Joe Mendonca would benefit if Jim Milinazzo doesn’t run. Other candidates need to start trying to set themselves up as a strong contender but the question is what can they do?
There is no strong issue to run on unless you want to go after this Council for not challenging the Manager on anything and given the current political atmosphere in the city, that won’t get you elected.
The usual issues: Public Safety – By the fall this Council will have approved funding and have 13 additional police officers on the force. They will have invested in shot spotter and stats say crime is down.
However, Fire Department staff is still low, companies are still being closed. Can a candidate make enough of an issue out of that citing the Branch St tragedy without exploiting those killed?
Education – This Council and Manager have met Net School Spending and will spend money for an evaluation of the need and location of a renovated or new High School.
Can a candidate make an issue by either arguing the High School needs to be kept downtown or moved out?
Economic Development – The city has had a steady stream of small businesses opening, there is a decent number of construction projects going on, Sal Lupoli is close to announcing his plans for comfort bedding and the state has sent the judicial center out for design. The administration is about to issue a RFP on the Hamilton Canal Project that could get multiple developers involved.
What can a candidate offer or claim that this Council hasn’t tried or supported?
Tax Rate – The Lynch Administration warned us that a 3.5% increase was coming in 2014/2015, What wasn’t known was the surge in property values that saw an average increase of 6.5 % to most homeowners. This year we are told their will be a 1.5 % increase but your estimated bill reflects cuts 2%. it is traditionally the case where the first two quarters are high than the last 2 adjusted to reflect the real increase.
Can a candidate make an issue that rates should be lower and show cuts in personal or service to justify and show any savings?
It appears to me that all eight current Councilors if Jim M runs will be back and there is no reason that they should not. No present candidate has given us any reason to replace the existing Council.
The School Committee on the other hand has plenty of issues and candidates yet to date this is a disappointing group of challengers. Non have yet addresses the turnover of Supts., the inability of the existing committee to settle a contract Ina professional manner and the petty infighting that had made this group so dysfunctional.
Will a leader emerge from this group of challengers or is there time for a new strong candidate to emerge? Yes, there is time but the question is Will Anyone step forward or will a challenger step up?
So far this group seems willing to just go along and try to get one of the empty seats. They want to play musical chairs when what is needed is Follow the Leader!