[RICHARD] Extending The Mayor’s Term From 2 to 4 Years Makes Sense
There is a move afoot to extend the term of Mayor of New Bedford from 2 to 4 years. The newly formed citizens group, New Bedford Forward hopes to put a ballot question before voters this Fall to accomplish just that.
Group spokesman, former New Bedford School Committeeman Dr. John Fletcher says, "There is a learning curve, especially in the beginning" when a new mayor takes office. Fletcher adds, "The mayor, as the CEO of the city, should be allowed to get to know what makes the city tick without an election hanging over his or her head in year one." He says, "A four year term will take the politics out of the learning process," and "allow the mayor to establish relationships with constituents, the business community, Beacon Hill and federal officials."
The proposal is to extend the mayor's term beginning with the 2019 election. Whoever wins this year's election would serve the current two year term. Organizers would need to collect and certify 2,500 signatures in order to include the question on the ballot.
Former City Councilor Victor Pinheiro says a two year term has a number of "shortcomings" in that, "Sound governance can take a back seat to political expediency in the heat of an always near election." He says, " A four year term allows the city to make decisions and implement strategies focused more on the long-term results rather than the electoral pressures."
New Bedford Forward is on solid ground with it's concerns and it's arguments for extending the term of mayor. Many former mayors have endorsed the idea over the years. Cities such as Boston, Springfield, Lynn and Quincy have already gone to four year terms.
The group's belief that a two year term is simply not enough time to properly evaluate the performance of a mayor is spot on. Two years is not enough time for an administration to see projects through to fruition.
I support New Bedford Forward's effort to put the matter before the voters this Fall and I trust the people to decide what is right for their city.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.