Let me begin by stating unequivocally that I do not nor will I endorse any candidate in the upcoming race for Mayor of New Bedford. That said, I encourage anyone with an interest to throw their hat into the ring and let us have your best pitch as to why you should be the city's first mayor elected since the change to a four-year term.

Brian Gomes is a lifelong friend of mine. We went to school together and we ran in some of the same social circles as kids. We share many of the old school values that most guys our age grew up with back in the day. I believe Brian Gomes is a good man. I would not vote for Brian Gomes for mayor, though, without first hearing what he offers for a plan for the future of our city. The same is true of any other candidate seeking my vote.

To be clear, Gomes is not a declared candidate for mayor but is sending strong signals that he intends to be. Gomes, the "dean" of the New Bedford City Council, has earned the right to be heard by virtue of his many years in public office. We owe him as much.

Gomes ran for mayor once before but his candidacy was quickly overshadowed by the events of 9/11 when many were distracted from local politics and he struggled to get his message out. Some unkind coverage by the local newspaper, intended or unintended, didn't help much either.

Mayor John Mitchell has done a fine job as mayor and I suspect he will seek another term. He would be difficult to defeat should he decide to seek re-election. But I believe Brian Gomes would be a viable opponent for Mitchell, giving voters an opportunity to make informed decisions about their future.

It is never good when an incumbent faces no serious challenge on the ballot. Brian Gomes would provide that challenge and give voters some options going forward.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.