After a long tenure on the City Council, Marchetti prepares to become Pittsfield's mayor
Western Massachusetts will have three new mayors leading communities early in 2024. In Greenfield, Virginia Desorgher is set to take over. Christopher Johnson will return to the corner office in Agawam after more than two decades away. And in Pittsfield, City Council President Peter Marchetti will become the new mayor.
Marchetti, who takes over for the outgoing Linda Tyer, defeated former City Councilor John Krol in a contentious race.
We sat down with Marchetti and asked him what he's been doing to get ready.
Peter Marchetti: We have been strategic in meeting with department heads and getting an update from each of the departments of where we are and what's happening within the city, as well as meeting with community stakeholders — so that on January 2, we are prepared to take the reins and lead the city forward.
Adam Frenier, NEPM: Being the City Council president, then moving on to mayor, do you feel like that gives you an advantage in terms of being up to speed on everything involved in city government?
So, I think it gives me a lot of background knowledge and it gives me a lot of internal workings. I mean, I think that, two-fold, one being council president for the last eight years and having 16 years of service on the City Council, along with a mayor that has been more than gracious with their time to help with the transition, has been extremely helpful.
You know, the department heads have been very helpful. The initial meeting was with Mayor Tyer that lasted several hours of, you know, getting the landscape and and understanding her philosophies and her direction, having conversations of where I'll take things in a different direction.
But along with Mayor Tyer, I have relationships with both former Mayor Ruberto and Bianchi to be able to call upon mayors that have served the city you know, in recent years, and then also a connection with Mayor Dobelle. So I think I've been able to put myself in a really good place when it comes time to leading and being able to have some folks to be able to pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, when you're in this office, when you were faced with this kind of problem, what was your thought process?'
Have you identified some early priorities you'd like to take care of soon after you're sworn in on January 2?
So we talked a lot about mental health and substance use disorder and my desire to create a task force. That's coming pretty quickly and housing will be a focus. And the finance director and I have had a conversation about taking a step back and looking for some resources to do efficiency reviews of all of our city departments to determine — both from a staffing standpoint and a procedure standpoint — if we are running those departments in the city and the most efficient manner.
Many have felt that the election that's just passed, which you won, was a contentious affair. And many feel that the one before it, where Mayor Tyer won another term, was also contentious. How might you try to bridge any political gaps, any political differences that there might be going forward?
I think when we talk about the contentiousness, it comes down to passionate people who are, you know, close friends or relatives of either my opponent and I during the election. And so, you know, elections get passionate and as the passion grows, so does the the tension.
And prior to the election, I considered John Krol a friend. I would say, today, I still call him a friend, maybe at a different level. You had two people with passion for Pittsfield that really believed that their vision and their ability to lead would make a better Pittsfield. And I think we need to stay focused on that piece of the campaign more than the contention.
And, at some point in time, I think we'll see John playing a role someplace or, you know, at least an acknowledgment that we did not destroy friendship or something along those lines. And I think you'll see some of his supporters find positions on boards or commissions where their skill set best serves the city.
And finally, what does has whole experience been like for you? Obviously, you've been well entrenched in city government, but running for mayor, being able to become elected and now getting ready to be sworn in, what's this been like for you?
It's kind of been a whirlwind of transitions. It was a hard-fought race on both sides. But for me, then it became a whole transition of I served for 35 years as an employee of the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, retiring there as a senior vice president of retail banking. And now, in a seven-week period of time, transitioning to fulfill the promises that we made during the campaign and setting ourselves up to be ready on day one.