NEW BEDFORD - A citizens group is looking to garner support to lengthen the mayoral term in New Bedford.

The group, "New Bedford Fourward," is looking to expand the term for mayor from two years to four, beginning in 2019.

The group will work to gather the necessary 2,500 certified signatures of New Bedford residents who support the initiative in order to have the question appear on the November 7 municipal ballot.

Should the question reach the ballot and pass, the new term length would not take effect until the 2019 municipal election, with the winner of the 2017 mayoral race serving a two-year term.

New Bedford Fourward member and former New Bedford School Committee member Dr. John Fletcher says the mayor should be afforded the same term he was given on the school committee. "“That same comfort zone in the mayoral term would allow for growth into a challenging job," said Dr. Fletcher in a release. "The mayor, as the CEO of the city, should be allowed to get to know what makes the city tick without an election hanging over his or her head in year one."

The group says the longer term would bring New Bedford in line with the cities of Boston, Springfield, Lynn, and Quincy in terms of a "strong mayor form of government."

Victor Pinheiro, former three-term New Bedford City Councillor and owner of Luzo Auto Center, has also joined the initiative. “I witnessed firsthand the shortcomings of a two-year mayoral term, where sound governance can take a back seat to political expediency in the heat of an alwaysnear election,” he said. “A four-year term allows the city's mayor to make decisions and implement strategies focused more on the long-term results rather than the electoral pressures of the next and always-near election."

The group is also comprised of current New Bedford School Committee member Bruce Oliveira, President and CEO of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce Rick Kidder, Farland Corp. President Christian Farland, and New Bedford Public Schools Juvenile Court Liaison and Supervisor of Attendance John Tweedie.

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