Ward 3 in New Bedford — long a forgotten area in the least easily definable part of the city — is in luck this time.
Somehow, some way, the resignation of embattled Councilor Hugh Dunn has resulted in a bunch of good candidates from a variety of different neighborhoods in the ward all coming forward to say they want to be the new councilor.
It’s a refreshing change for a part of the city that has been represented by no fewer than five different councilors over the past 25 years.
In the past month or so, I’ve had a chance to walk with all of these candidates in their home neighborhoods within the ward. I’ve learned a whole lot about both them and the different enclaves — some of them quite out of the way — that they call home.
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I’m here to tell you that a lot of these folks are interesting people, and I think the ward has a good chance of electing a superior councilor this time.
Yes, it could all still fall apart, and in a sleepy special election in January and February, the voters could still make a mistake. But this election has somehow become one of the most interesting electoral contests in the city in many years. Maybe since Jon Mitchell, then a little-known assistant U.S. attorney in Boston, came out of nowhere and defeated longtime state Rep. Tony Cabral and City Councilor Linda Morad, to become mayor.
Twelve years later, Mitchell — love him or hate him — has now been the longest, consecutive-serving mayor in modern New Bedford history.
Now, I could spend time outlining the individual Ward 3 candidates’ positions on all the issues. But I’m not sure how much that would really tell you about the candidates or the ward.
Suffice it to say that all of the candidates think the additional tax revenue from the planned advanced manufacturing campus in Ward 3 is a good idea. But all of them also worry about the development’s subsequent traffic and whether the road design will be well planned. Some even say they wonder whether dividing the municipal golf course is a good idea after all.
I could also tell you that all the candidates are excited about redeveloping that down-and-out waterfront area known as Hicks-Logan into a variety of “mixed” industrial, commercial and residential uses as they say. And I could tell you that all of them, or all who mentioned it, understand why two of the four Dias Field baseball diamonds off Hathaway Road are going to be redeveloped into a regulation-sized soccer field. Soccer is increasing in popularity and baseball is declining in the city. Some candidates will even tell you they should throw in an additional tots’ playground up at Dias or up at Carter Brooks school on the Ward 5 border. There are evidently a shortage of playgrounds in some sections of the ward
I could also tell you all that, but so many of these candidates have basically the same positions on all these common-sense positions. For instance, all of the candidates say they intend to be just the very-best ever city councilor when it comes to constituent services. They say they will either get your streetlight fixed or tell you why it can’t be. And a lot of them stress that they will look for a way to improve the city’s poor communication about what’s going on around town. They seem acutely aware that the decline of newspapers, and the rise of social media, has actually resulted in less information being at folks’ fingertips about what’s going on in the city.
I could tell you all these things but I actually think the most important thing I could tell you about these folks is what it was like traveling around their home neighborhoods with them. Along with some photos of them I took, we’re also going to embed with these columns the audio of my travels with the candidates. Forgive, if you will, the ambient traffic noises of these outdoor recordings made on chilly winter days for the most part, and just enjoy getting to know the candidates as they talk to me. I think you’ll find they have some interesting stories to tell.
Follow the links from each Ward 3 candidate’s name below to read and listen to their comments.
Email New Bedford Light columnist Jack Spillane at email@example.com.
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