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Eight new Massachusetts Mayors gathered from around the Commonwealth this past Saturday for the second biennial Seminar on Mayoral Leadership at UMass Boston, sponsored by the Collins Center. The Seminar featured panels composed of experienced municipal leaders discussing strategies for surviving the first 100 days of a new administration, managing in a time of unprecedented fiscal challenges and balancing family and work.
Incumbent Mayors Robert Dolan of Melrose, Thatcher Kezer, III of Amesbury, Daniel Knapik of Westfield and Joseph Sullivan of Braintree shared their wit and wisdom with the newly elected Mayors. Daniel Rizzo of Revere, Gary Christenson of Malden, Arthur Vigeant of Marlborough, Ted Bettencourt of Peabody, Gregory Neffinger of West Springfield, Joseph Petty of Worcester and Steve Zanni of Methuen attended the Seminar as part of their preparation for taking office in January. Steve Crosby, Dean of the McCormack Graduate School, and a former Commonwealth Secretary of Administration and Finance, welcomed the new municipal chief executives and stressed the importance of sharing experiences and learning from each other over the coming year.
Discussions at the Seminar ranged from the value of keeping a pile of thank you notes on the Mayor's desk to collective bargaining strategies. All four incumbent Mayors stressed the importance of retaining competent and reliable chief financial officers and city solicitors, among other key municipal positions. And they also agreed that, particularly in the first year of their term, new Mayors need to balance the never-ending demands on their time with home and family life.
Among his many pieces of advice, Mayor Robert Dolan gave the Mayors-elect two principles to remember during the chaotic period ahead: "Your word is your word', and "Use the telephone before the microphone."
During lunch and breaks between seminar sessions, the panelists and attendees had the opportunity to talk informally with each other. Mayors Dolan, Kezer, Knapik and Sullivan urged the new chief executives to call them and each other during the next year for advice and consultation.