The New Bedford City Council overrode the veto of Mayor Jon Mitchell and put in place a new ordinance covering the residency requirement for employees.

The city council stood its ground on a major policy change. You might not agree with the policy change, but the council demonstrated strength at the first full meeting of 2021. Is this the start of something?

The residency rules for city employees go back at least 40 years and were certainly due a review and possibly an update. There are sound reasons for having city employees and board appointees living in the city. There are also legitimate reasons to hire the best-qualified person regardless of where they live.

The new law requires employees to live in the city or they will be subject to a 10 percent reduction in their pay. After working for 10 years for the city, the penalty will be lifted and any employee living in the city can move out of New Bedford. Employees covered by this new law who fail to notify the city they have moved out of the city in the first 10 years of employment can be terminated. In the first 10 years of employment, employees subject to the ordinance must submit a certificate “signed under the pains and penalties of perjury” attesting to their place of residence. Those certificates are due on July 1 of each year.

The only councilor to vote against overriding the veto was Deb Coelho and she has already announced she won’t be seeking re-election this year.

Will the candidates seeking election to the city council this year side with Mayor Mitchell or with the council on this policy change?

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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