Sentinel & Enterprise Endorses Lisa Wong for Mayor
"Wong for a strong Fitchburg future," Sentinel & Enterprise, 6 November 2011
When Councilor Joseph Solomito launched his candidacy for mayor in January in front of the Fitchburg Public Library, we applauded his entry into the race because it would guarantee a full airing of the issues and challenges facing the city. That's exactly what has happened. He has run a good, clean campaign focused on quality-of-life issues -- turning on streetlights, repairing roads, keeping the library open more hours, putting more police on the streets -- and by doing so has tapped into a frustration many residents have with their city.
The fact is, Mayor Lisa Wong is focused on all of those things. Her vision for a brighter Fitchburg includes streetlights -- and so much more. That's why the Sentinel & Enterprise endorses Mayor Lisa Wong's bid for another term as Fitchburg's chief executive.
When Fitchburg voters helped Wong make history in 2007 by electing her the state's first female Asian-American mayor, the city was on the verge of financial collapse. It had reserves of just $10,000. Since then Mayor Wong has restored fiscal sanity to the city. Fitchburg now has $3 million in its reserves, and the city's bond rating has been upgraded three times since she took office, saving the city thousands in interest payments the city pays on its borrowing.
Wong has done much of this work during the worst recession since the Great Depression, and when many municipalities saw their reserves dwindle. Indeed, last year the city of Lawrence needed a $35 million
bailout from the state to rescue it from insolvency. Without Wong's tough decisions, that could very well have been Fitchburg.
Wong won't settle for the quick fix just to get re-elected. It would be easy for a mayor to check off every item on the city's wish list, but the mayor can't be Santa Claus. After working so hard to dig the city out of its financial hole these past four years, she refuses to max out the city's credit cards again.
In addition to developing long-term solutions to ensure the city's fiscal stability, Wong has:
* Strengthened ties to Fitchburg State University, the jewel of the city.
* Created the student housing overlay district that will crack down on illegal apartments while encouraging more student foot traffic downtown.
* Helped attract small business to plant roots here and put people to work.
* Repaired leaky roofs, and replaced balky boilers and drafty windows at city schools -- with grants picking up 80 percent of the costs.
* Pushed for civilian dispatchers to get more police on the streets.
* Boosted neighborhood pride through her street mayor program and by demolishing decrepit properties.
* Invited the arts community to the table as a partner in the downtown's revitalization. She understands the potential of the creative economy.
* Used her contacts at every level of state government to improve housing in the city and to spur redevelopment of vacant mill buildings. She knows how redevelopment works.
We also believe Wong is the best choice to represent the city's taxpayers when negotiating union contracts with city employees.
Lisa Wong might not be the best politician the city has ever seen, but she just might be the best municipal manager it has seen. We see no reason for the city to change course now. These times, more than ever, call for leaders who refuse to live in the past.
Wong's vision reminds us of a quote from Robert F. Kennedy: "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
This is the kind of thinking that will bring a better Fitchburg. This is the kind of thinking Lisa Wong does every day. We urge voters to keep her on the job.