The sudden death of former Mayor Fred Kalisz has galvanized the city of New Bedford and beyond. Everyone is in agreement that his name and legacy must live on in some form.

Mayor Jon Mitchell described Fred Kalisz as an "urban mechanic" in the best sense of the title. He was elected by his neighbors to represent Ward 2 and he flourished in that position. He mastered the legislative process and he earned his way into being elected mayor. While he was mayor, he built three schools using his skills as a politician who understood process and procedure.

The rush to make sure we properly honor the legacy of Fred Kalisz is as much about his life as it is about his sudden death. There is no time to waste and don't assume you can do it tomorrow.

Naming one of the schools built by the efforts of Fred Kalisz and his administration is the proper thing to do and momentum is moving in that direction. The effort needs a quarterback and the late mayor's lifelong friend George Leontire is the man for the job. Leontire served as the city solicitor for Mayor Kalisz.

Leontire, a famously accomplished attorney and an "urban mechanic" like his late friend, is uniquely able to drive this process. The process to change the name of a school will require votes by politicians. There is the potential for some "politics" to enter into the process. Leontire can manage the personalities and the politics to make this important change.

Naming a school for Fred Kalisz, a man who earned a doctoral degree and taught at the university level after he was mayor, is more important for the children of New Bedford than it is for the late mayor. Education is a ladder, one Dr. Frederick Kalisz, Jr. climbed and one he made sure was available at the ground level for the children of New Bedford.

We have an opportunity to turn a tragedy into a unifying moment.

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 and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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