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Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer won't seek reelection

Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Linda Tyer has announced she won't run for reelection this year.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Linda Tyer has announced she won't run for reelection this year.

The city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will have a new mayor next year. Linda Tyer, who is finishing up her second four-year term, has announced she won't run again, citing plans to spend more time with her family.

In a letter addressed to friends and colleagues Friday, the 57-year-old mayor called her decision not to run for a third term "bittersweet." Tyer said she will have more free time to spend with her husband and care for her elderly parents.

"I am sad to leave a career that is challenging and rewarding," she wrote.

Her letter noted she has spent nearly 20 years as an elected official, starting when was elected to the Pittsfield City Council for Ward 3 in 2003.

The current City Council president, Peter Marchetti, and John Krol, a former city councilor who now runs a marketing firm, both announced in December their plans to run for mayor.

On election night in 2019, after learning she was reelected by about 5 percentage points, Tyer told cheering supporters, "Let's savor this victory and then — let's get back to work."

The work she had promised to focus on was reducing crime and boosting the economy.

At the time, Wayfair had just announced it would open a call center in Pittsfield and hire 300 people.

Just last month, the company announced it was closing the center, and shifting the 40 people it had hired to work remotely.

As part of her 2019 campaign, Tyer pointed to the hiring of three more officers to the Pittsfield police force. Last year, after a Pittsfield police officer fatally shot 22-year-old Miguel Estrella, who was in the midst of a mental health crisis, Tyer hired two city social workers, including one who will work with mental health responders in the police department.

In addition, Tyer recently submitted an order for outfitting police officers with body-worn cameras.

Tyer's time in office included managing the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic by launching a task force to oversee public health and business-related issues.

She also secured American Rescue Plan Act funds, including $4.5 million to redevelop 16.5 acre on a former General Electric site. Under Tyer, the city received $12 million to build the Berkshire Innovation Center, also on former GE land.

In an interview Friday, Tyer said she's OK with the idea that new leadership can provide a different perspective and vision.

"Elections are a good opportunity for communities to have a vigorous debate around what it believes it needs for its future success," she said.

Marchetti said the mayor's announcement "didn't impact or change" his plans to run.

"Today is the her day," Marchetti said, thanking Tyer for her service. "I wish her well in the remainder of her term and wish her well in the future."

John Krol, the president of a marketing company, said he felt the city could be "more business-friendly," citing the permitting process.

"When it comes to economic development, The downtown of our city is the front door step," said Krol, who served on the City Council from from 2010 until 2019. 'We see a lot of empty storefronts. We see a lot of businesses that have chosen to close."

Krol noted Police Chief Michael Wynn recently announced he would retire in July.

"I think it's really important this mayor does not hire a permanent full-time police chief before she leaves office," Krol said.

Tyer said Friday she would hire an interim chief, and leave the appointment of a permanent chief to her successor.

Krol said, if elected, he would consider looking at whether the police chief's position should be taken out of civil service. And he said, there is value in looking at candidates from outside of the Pittsfield Police Department who have worked in other urban areas.

"We need a mayor who is more active and visible and accessible, right now more than ever. I think people feel as though they need to be heard," he said.

Krol promised as mayor he would talk to business owners and residents on a regular basis.

Updated: February 17, 2023 at 4:24 PM EST
This story has been updated to include comments from an interview with Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer.
Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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