Greater New Bedford Has Lots of Politics to Focus On [OPINION]
There are tremendous political questions and changes occurring in America now. There are even more important local questions and changes that can't be ignored.
The COVID-19 virus imported from China and the aftermath of the death of George Floyd have local implications and are causing important changes in how we all live. The reality is that people mostly live and work locally and it is local that mostly matters.
SouthCoast – or what I still call southeastern Massachusetts and Greater New Bedford – residents and leaders have to focus on the home front.
The opening of schools in our area is probably the biggest question on the table. The parents, educators, and the kids need to know what is on the horizon. Parents have to make plans. I can't see a true return to the pre-COVID-19 educational system, although I wish it was possible.
The UMass Dartmouth campuses and the Bristol Community College campuses are more than just educational institutions. Those campuses are also important economic engines for Fall River, Dartmouth, and New Bedford.
Speaking of UMass Dartmouth, the search for a new chancellor is in the works and the region needs a homegrown champion to lead our local university. The new chancellor needs to view the job as both a leader on campus and off-campus. The decades of tax dollars that build that university can't be shifted into an online school that educates the world at the expense of the local population. The town of Dartmouth counts on the economic engine of the main campus. If students and teachers don't need to be on campus (after COVID-19 passes as a pandemic), the local economy will suffer an enormous loss.
The City of New Bedford is in the process of deciding how it will handle the hiring of future employees who don't want to move to the city. This has the potential to be an election issue in 2021.
The cutting of the budget in New Bedford is going to be a major fight. The city is also in better shape than some other Massachusetts cities. What happens in the cities is going to happen in suburban towns, too. The scramble for resources has the potential to limit the mutual aid communities are able to offer their neighbors. The pressure to cut police budgets will ultimately come down to local officials, not Washington Democrats and Republicans.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has mailed out absentee applications for the September primary and the November final election. The impact on the race for the U.S. Senate between Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III and Sen. Edward Markey is heating up and they are giving the SouthCoast attention. The Fall River-Freetown-Lakeville-Attleboro area will have a new member of Congress soon, too.
The national questions are important but don't ignore the homefront.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.