New Bedford mayor touts improved graduation, crime rates in annual speech

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell delivered his annual State of the City address Thursday, painting a picture of a city on the rise.

Speaking before a crowd at New Bedford High School, Mitchell praised city schools, saying they have come a long way over the past few years, with the four-year graduation rate the highest it’s been since Massachusetts started tracking that data.

The mayor also touched upon a number of financial issues. He said New Bedford is becoming a leader in the commercial fishing industry, which he believes is the city’s primary economic driver.

Mitchell said that while he’s in office, he wants the city to be in good financial standing.

“Spending has to be reigned in,” he said. “The budget busters, as you know, are pensions, health care and charter school costs. You’ve heard me criticize the state for making it difficult for municipalities to control these costs because the rules are dictated by state regulations. The state can literally be said to have tied our hands.”

“I look forward to working with the City Council and the state on these matters and I appreciate the thoughtful discussions we’ve had along the way, but it’s a discussion we have to continually have as a city,” Mitchell continued.


PDF: Read the full text of Mitchell’s speech »

Crime rates are down in the city, according to Mitchell. He said there’s been a renewed focus on the North and South End police stations, with new cameras placed in those areas and updated crime-mapping software to be purchased in the coming year.

The mayor also announced he’ll be moving his monthly office hours to city restaurants in an effort to get more residents involved.

Watch Mitchell’s speech in full in the video below.