Mayor Daniel Bianchi signs his oath of office on Monday after the oath administered by Judge Rudolph Sacco.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Monday was a day of reinvigoration for city government when the elected officials took their oaths of office and set their sights on the future.
The city's swearing-in ceremony featured oaths by the newly elected School Committee, City Council, city clerk and mayor.
In a jam-packed City Council chambers, officials restructured by electing Councilor at Large and top vote-getter Melissa Mazzeo as council president; she picked Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell to serve as vice president.
"I'm excited. It is a little nerve racking but I'm ready to help out in this capacity," Mazzeo said after the ceremony. "It is a team effort and you are really just guiding the dialogue... As a council we have a lot to do, together."
Mazzeo said she doesn't have a specific agenda she wants to push as president but is looking forward to leading the council into tackling big issues such as the building new or renovating Taconic High School and implementing the new city charter. Now starting her third term, Mazzeo was elected with a vote of 7-4 over Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop.
The new school is a major priority for the administration as Mayor Daniel Bianchi laid out in his inaugural speech. Bianchi ran unopposed and took his oath of office for another two years — the last mayor to serve two years because the new charter has changed the office to four years.
Bianchi focused on developing the William Stanley Business Park, building or renovating the new school and public safety as his main goals for the upcoming term.
"Working together, we have the potential to unleash the creativity and innovation that will make Pittsfield a great small city," he said.
When Bianchi took office two years ago, he focused on those three initiatives and on Monday he recapped the progress. For developing the business park, Bianchi said he expanded the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority board, brought on Nuclea Biotechnologies to open a computer center there and is "aggressively seeking similar and other businesses that will bring innovation, new jobs and expanding economy to Pittsfield."
"I believe that the William Stanley Business Park will someday be the region's center of innovation, the place where Pittsfield will find its future," he said.
To couple with that, Bianchi said he has been pushing for small businesses by creating a $500,000 fund to give companies technical assistance and has met with 158 different companies about economic development. But, employers had already stopped hiring graduates from the school system, so Bianchi said he has placed a focus on creating the pipeline of students to jobs.
"Many of our local companies told me they no longer looked to the school vocational department as an employee pipeline. The program had changed and students were spending less and less time with hands-on internships that prepare them for employment. And with an aging workforce, employers were worried about filling new positions," Bianchi said.
He said he re-established strong partnerships with businesses and schools as well as expanded vocational offerings. But there is more to be done.
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo was elected City Council president and was sworn in by City Clerk Linda Tyer.
The city has entered the feasibility study stage of building or renovating Taconic High School and in the next week or so, a designer will be picked to envision the new school.
"A well-functioning 21st century comprehensive career vocational technical high school, which will include all of the workplace skills required by innovative businesses and manufacturers, will be a key element in the outstanding overall education that students receive in Pittsfield schools," Bianchi said. "And it will also help to ensure the future success of local employers and our community."
Three new members were elected to the City Council, one being longtime School Committee member Kathleen Amuso.
After taking office on Monday, Amuso said she is excited to be able to help move the building project along in her new capacity.
"I am glad today is here. I am really excited about the work that needs to be done," the newly elected at-large councilor said. "It is a long two months from the election until you get sworn in. But, I did do a lot of work."
Amuso has still pushed for the building project, meeting with the state School Building Authority to pick a designer.
Also new to the council is Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo, who said he is looking forward to school's building project discussions.
"The mayor's inaugural speech sounded good. Its certainly exciting to see the progress in the school project," Caccamo said. "Its excited [to be here]. I look forward to working under Melissa [Mazzeo] and with the mayor."
Caccamo said he already has an array of both ward-specific issues he would like to address as well as citywide initiatives he believes can help.
And Amuso isn't just focused on the school. Public safety is another goal of hers.
"Safety is a big issue and we have to make sure the people feel safe," Amuso said.
In the last two years, Bianchi said he created a public safety task force, re-established the dormant Police Advisory Committee, opened community centers at public housing facilities, hired a crime analyst and reeled in two grants to help combat gang violence.
Yet, Bianchi is still pushing for the building of a new Police station because "we can not ask police officers to do 21st Century police work in an inadequate, early 20th century facility that lacks much of the technical capabilities required for the job."
The School Committee was sworn in at the same ceremony for the first time because of changes in the city charter.
While the administration has a lot of goals on its agenda, newly elected Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully says she believes the city has the right leadership to make it happen.
"There is so much potential and with the right group, which I think we have, it is achievable. I think we are all heading in the same direction," Tully said.
Tully just squeaked by in the election, upsetting the incumbent, and she says he hopes to make the voters proud. While she said the phone calls and work began right after the election, the reality didn't sink in until Monday's ceremony started.
"The minute they hit the gavel, it hit me," Tully said, adding that she too has a lot of ward-specific and citywide issues she hopes to address.
Tully is a supporter of Mazzeo and is happy that she will be the president.
"She's the number 1 voter getter for a reason. She works hard for the city," Tully said.
Mazzeo didn't win the nomination easily though. After nominated by At Large Councilor Churchill Cotton, Ward 6 Councilor John Krol nominated Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop. The council was split on their first vote of the new term, which Mazzeo winning over Lothrop for the presidency.
At a reception at the Berkshire Museum, Bianchi called the reformation of the city's government a "new opportunity" and that he is "so excited with the initiatives we are going to under take in the next two years."
Taking their oath and rededicating themselves to the city includes Councilors at Large Barry Clairmont, Cotton, Amuso, Mazzeo, Tully, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Caccamo, Connell, Lothrop, Krol and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli. City Clerk Linda Tyer also took the oath of office. Six new School Committee members — Daniel Elias, Joshua Cutler, Pamela Farron, Katherine Yon, Anthony Riello and Cynthia Taylor — were sworn in as well.
During the ceremony, the Taconic High School Chorus performed; Tyer was given her oath from Hon. Richard Simons; the council drew new seating arrangements; Bianchi was administered the oath from Hon. Rudolph Sacco and the invocation was given by Rev. John Salatino and the benediction by Rabbi Josh Breindel.