Maybe There Will Be a Mayoral Race in New Bedford [OPINION]
I think Mayor Jon Mitchell will run again for re-election and I have thought he would run with no opposition. However, there is some talk of opposition now.
A fundamental change in the way New Bedford is governed is about to occur. The term of mayor is going from two years to fours years for the next person elected to the job. The voters decided to make that change in 2017.
Mayor Mitchell was a strong proponent of the change and it was a committee of many of his supporters who put the question on the ballot. They made a strong case for lengthening the term and the voters agreed. The ballot question was voted during a municipal election, rather than a presidential election, so the folks voting were the ones who pay the most attention to local issues.
If Mitchell is re-elected in 2019 there will not be another election for mayor for four years.
Four years is a lifetime in politics.
And three or four current or previously elected New Bedford officials are seriously looking at not waiting a lifetime to run for mayor.
They are convinced the taxpayers have felt too much pain in the last few years and are ready for a change. I spoke with a prominent member of the business community who agrees the taxes are too high and some want a change.
The public employee unions are all looking for a change, too, according to sources.
How does a mayor or a candidate seeking that job satisfy both the public employee unions and the taxpayers? The taxpayers naturally want to pay less and get good service and the employees want to be paid more for providing good service.
Mitchell can explain what he has been doing to try to hold the line on taxes and spending while attempting to grow the economy of his city. He did a good job the other day in his State of the City speech.
Mitchell is also sitting on a huge financial war chest and he has proven he can raise money for his political efforts. This race won't be won or lost on money, but any serious challenger must be able to raise $100,000 to be taken seriously. The way the campaign finance disclosures work now, the media will be able to track each set of bank deposits on a near real-time basis and provide the voters with a horse race-style update. That horse race will sink or float a challenger campaign.
Is there $100,000 sitting on the sidelines to take on an incumbent mayor?
There are some big names looking at running and they are going to have to make a decision soon, or maybe not. The last time an incumbent mayor in New Bedford lost, he lost to a challenger who waited until the last minute to jump into the race.
Of course, this whole discussion is predicated on whether or not Mayor Jon Mitchell will decide to run again.
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.