Let there be no doubt, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt wants a second term. And if history is any indicator in city politics, he'll get it.
A popular Peabody native and former city councilor, the 39-year-old Bettencourt won his first bid for the corner office by a landslide in 2011, defeating fellow Tanner City native Sean Fitzgerald.
Bettencourt is only the city's 14th mayor since 1917 – the late Peter Torigian had the record by far with 23 years in the corner office and Bettencourt's predecessor Michael Bonfanti spent a full decade in office.
You have to go back to the 1950s to find an incumbent mayor who lost a race.
Bettencourt also says being Mayor is a childhood dream come true for him.
He released an announcement Wednesday, confirming his intention to seek re-election this fall and citing a desire to keep the ball rolling on some major city projects. He indicated as much in his mid-term address earlier this month and has held a couple political fundraisers over the past year.
“When I first ran for Mayor I had a long list of things I felt needed to be done in order for Peabody to reach its potential,” said Bettencourt. “While I believe we have accomplished a great deal so far during my first term, much work lies ahead. I respectfully ask voters for another term to keep our momentum going.”
Chief among his priorities for a second term is construction of a new Higgins Middle School, along with continuing the transformation of the downtown and crafting a new Master Plan that maps out a new future for Peabody.
The new Higgins is currently in the final design phase, which will be approved by the Mass. School Building Authority sometime later this year. Bettencourt says he is committed to having a final project that serves the "educational needs of generations of Peabody students."
“A new Higgins is vital to Peabody’s future because our middle school program represents such a critical phase of academic preparation,” he said.
The first step to revitalize the downtown is overhauling Main Street, which is expected to be completed this spring. Bettencourt says the next phase of the transformation will be a key focus of his second term.
“We will have made Main Street a more desirable location, but the next step is to decide what we want our downtown to be,” he said. “We cannot just try and copy our neighbors because Peabody is unique. We need our own vision, our own character and our own way forward.”
That's where the new Master Plan factors in -- Bettencourt feels the existing document, which is 10 years old, is outdated and does not reflect the realities of the current landscape, in terms of economics and otherwise.
Bettencourt says he wants to ensure the new blueprint for Peabody's future reflects input from private industry, academia, state and local government and Peabody residents.
“There is a lot at stake in terms of Peabody’s future and I am committed to doing the hard work necessary to get it right,” he said.
Bettencourt has also had several other high-profile achievements this past year, such as securing support for a ban on medical marijuana facilities in the city (the final vote will be Jan. 24) and enacting a child sex offender law in Peabody, but he did not touch on those subjects Wednesday.