Headshot of middle-aged man, John Krol, mayoral candidate in Pittsfield, Mass/, 2023/
Pittsfield Mayoral Candidate, John Krol; submitted photo.

TLC #183: Mayoral Candidate John Krol

September 12, 2023

Jay Velázquez: And this is the Top Left Corner. Episode number 183 here on The Greylock Glass, GreylockGlass.com The Berkshires’ mightiest independent alternative news thing. I’m your host, Jay Velázquez, known in an alternate zip code as the Mongrel. Welcome. Welcome to the show. This is going to be a great show we have for you today. A former Pittsfield Select Selectboard Council, city council member, media personality and mayoral candidate John Krol with us today. It’s going to be a great conversation. Didn’t pull any punches. I asked the tough questions and I’ll let you decide for yourself how he did. Um, before we get to that conversation, though, I do have an announcement from one of our sponsors, the Foundry West Stockbridge. But I’d be telling you about this even if they were not our sponsors. Because this is great stuff. This month there is a residency at the Foundry, and I’ll tell you about it. This fall, the Foundry continues to support organizations that align with their mission of giving platform to often unheard voices. The first couple of weeks of September, the Foundry has offered an in-kind contribution of space to hold a theater residency in development through a collaboration with Second Street Second Chances in Pittsfield. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide a central point of access, where formerly incarcerated people of Berkshire County connect with the tools, programs and support to encourage a successful reentry into a more welcoming community with dignity and sustainable opportunities to thrive.

Jay Velázquez: The resulting performance is going to be held at Berkshire Community College at the end of September. I think it’s September 22nd. But let’s see. I think I’m going to have it over here. Yeah, yeah. In fact, I can go on a little bit further because the program Hear Me Out is the process of inspiring trust and creative risk taking, telling stories and sharing dreams and aspirations. The participants will find narrative threads, identify themes, and build the world of the play they have generated. The goals of this, this is this issue. Whatever of release are using the power of live performance to provide an outlet for presently and formerly incarcerated individuals to share their stories and life experiences through devising and shaping an entirely original, entirely original piece of theater, and to educate the public on the issues of incarceration and reentry. In a highly personal way and challenging our stereotype of this population. Performances will take place at the Robert Robert Bowlin Theater at Berkshire Community College on September 20th and 23rd, 2023 at 7 p.m. and September 26th. At 2 p.m. They will be free and open to the public. Each show will be followed by a talkback where audience members can ask the cast direction questions, directly facilitating community dialog. And this is co directed and facilitated by, well, two of my favorite names in the theater world in the Berkshires, Amy Brentano and Sarah Katzoff.

Jay Velázquez: So this is going to be a really I have a feeling I’m moving show, bring your hankie because these types of things, they just hit me hard, hit me so hard. So that is a really fascinating way of putting theater to to to great social use. Now let’s get on with our conversation with John Kroll right here on the top left corner.

Excerpt from Krol for Pittsfield

I’m a proud Dad, husband, small business owner, and an advocate for my community. I live in my hometown of Pittsfield with my wife, Cara, and our five children, Sophia, Ricky, Arden, Everett, and Beckett.

As the owner of my own marketing agency, One Eighty Media, I’m the director of accounts and lead communications consultant. I suppose that’s a fancy way of saying I work with my clients to give them exactly what they need to bolster their marketing – a fresh new website that works how it’s supposed to, a beautiful new brand, literature that pops and hits the target, intelligent digital marketing campaigns – all that good stuff.

When I’m not working with clients and my professional team, you’ll find me out and about coaching my sons’ baseball teams, sometimes giving well-honed advice on Pokemon trades, helping out with homework and driving the kiddos to skiing, soccer or Sunday school. Family is my foundation, and Pittsfield is our home. My Mother and Father, Beverly and John Sr., raised me and my siblings here and I’m proud that my children are growing up in our fine city.

After attending the Pittsfield Public Schools and graduating from Pittsfield High School in 1996, I spent four years in Philadelphia to earn my undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. My first profession after college was as a journalist, first in newspaper, and I later moved into commercial and public radio. But to be completely honest, through my five years’ work as a reporter, I learned I could do far more for my community by jumping into the arena myself.

NTRVW: John Krol

(Editor’s Note: The following transcript, generated via AI, is very rough. We’ll try to edit it as time allows.)

Top Left Corner: John, thanks so much for being on the top left corner.

John Krol: Hey, Jason, it is a pleasure to finally meet you, at least virtually. And I look forward to the conversation.

Top Left Corner: The feeling is mutual. I can’t believe in all this time we haven’t we haven’t crossed paths before. I think I’ve run into I’ve seen you across the room at different events, but we’ve not gotten a chance to, to, to meet. So. Yeah. So a virtual handshake and and a good to meet you. You actually this is going to be I think The Greylock Glass is last candidate interview during a campaign. I don’t I enjoy them. I enjoy them but they’re really it’s tough to put together especially a one year. We had, I think, 12 candidates in North Adams for city council and that just about killed me. But you are not just the the mayor of a of a small town amongst many towns. This is the county seat we’re talking about. What happens in Pittsfield affects what happens throughout the county. So I think it was really important at this sort of pivotal election, which I think it’s going to be no matter who wins, to get a good sense of who the candidates are. So, John, let’s for those who don’t know you, could you give us a sort of your or your superhero origin story, let us know where you’re from and how you got to where you are now. I know that’s a big chunk, but.

John Krol: Oh, yeah. I mean, well, hey, you know, um, we can crunch it down. Um, thank you so much for. For the opportunity. You know, I. I was born and raised in Pittsfield, and I had a wonderful childhood here, um, raised by my two parents and one brother and two older sisters who kept me in line. But I can tell you that really, this city is at the core of who I am. You know, we have a city that is wonderful and supports each other. And also, hey, you got to say, there’s a little bit of chip on our shoulder in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. And that’s that’s a piece of where we are today, economically and otherwise, with a legacy of GE, but also with the opportunity to position ourselves as the true Berkshires city. And I believe that’s something that we’ve never truly been able to attain to elevate ourselves as the hub culturally and economically in in the city, at least for the last three decades. We got close a couple of times, but I really want to finish that that job. So I was able to, after going to the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 2000in Philadelphia, I came back and became a journalist and I was at the old North Adams transcript.

John Krol: That was my very first job out of college, and I was a reporter, and that’s where I really cut my teeth. On understanding town government, municipal government budgets, understanding line items, understanding how it works with state funding, understanding the powers of even what the Board of Selectmen have in small towns, and ultimately understanding what a mayor does. For instance, in North Adams, as I covered John Barrett, the third was the mayor at the time, and later I went into radio and was able to work under the Thurstons at Wnyw and Wmnb in North Adams under the old Berkshire Broadcasting. And that was a wonderful experience. That was the first opportunity where I had to interview people. It was the opinion program, the legacy talk show back at the back in that time, and that was a wonderful experience, which then led me to WAMC, Northeast Public Radio. I was the Berkshire bureau chief for about a year before Jim Roberto, the mayor of Pittsfield, asked me to come work for him. He loved my writing. He loved what I did as far as our stories about Pittsfield and sort of taking it to a new level and deeper understanding for the WAMC listeners. And and really, at first I didn’t think I was going to take that job.

John Krol: I really didn’t think I was going to leave broadcasting. But then I got quiet and really thought, Wow, I have an opportunity to do something special for my hometown. And to some extent the rest has been history, because that fire that started then still burns today. I really believe that our city has an opportunity to elevate to a new level. Um, you know, I became a city councilor. I was there for a decade on the dais, and I had two terms as the vice president of the council, we were able to get Taconic High School built. We were able to do some wonderful things for my ward in West Pittsfield, Ward six. And and ultimately, you know, as a profession, you know, I have my own small business that I’ve had for about a dozen years. I started that time ago and also have worked in the corporate world, in addition to working in City Hall for those two years with Jim Roberto. So I know there’s a lot to unpack there, but I am a dad, which is most important. I’m a husband and I’m also a baseball coach and I’m very committed to my children, my family, and certainly this community.

Top Left Corner: I don’t know that anybody could summarize their their life story so succinctly. So that was great. I know on your website there are some more details and we’ll put a link, of course, to that in the show notes so that people can dig deeper if they if they feel so inclined. But that was that was a pretty comprehensive rundown of experiences. And I do want to comment because this is going to sort of be my first question or topic. You were in the news media for a while, which is as you’re no stranger to the to this, the news media across the country, the local news media is taking a beating we’ve lost since 2004 across the country, about 3000 print newspapers. And there is really almost no way to know how many digital papers like The Greylock Glass or I Berkshires have have sunk since. 2004. But, you know, we’re talking at least 3000 local news sources. And that leaves a huge gap where people used to be there to be the watchdogs for the public when it comes to things like corruption, government efficiency, government spending, self-dealing. Tell me something in your time as a journalist, your time in city hall and your time in business, what’s your take on the. The corruption level in the Berkshires. I have heard things that sometimes just shock me and I try to investigate them as much as I can. Difficult being a one man operation. But what is your take on the corruption in the Berkshires and what can we do to combat that?

John Krol: That’s a really interesting question because there’s there’s two there’s two sides to this from from my perspective. And that is, is it is it likely that there is corruption? The answer has to be yes on some level. However, how much do I know about it or am I aware of it? Not much, because, you know, only the corrupt are corruptible. And so, you know, in my time as a city councilor, I have never been approached with something that that, you know, would would, you know, be a smoking gun as far as that goes. So that’s that’s the kind of challenge that I have when I think about these things. Um, you know, when you look at it here, here’s the thing. You have millions of dollars that are being divvied out every year, grants and federal funding and all kinds of dollars and a lot of power when it comes to contracts and bidding and things along those lines. You know, so the answer, I guess, is it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t some level. To what extent is it? I don’t know. And certainly I can’t, you know, name names or anything along those lines. But but I can tell you that when it comes to the local media, you are 1,000% correct that the dearth of local media does open the door more to these kinds of things because simply it is volume.

John Krol: So when you get a tip. All right. And you have one major newspaper that only has basically one reporter to cover a city and then maybe small newspapers, and those are drying up. It’s just it’s just a question of capacity. And so, you know, it if you worked in the newspaper world or or even in radio, you pretty much have a quota. You got to you got to have your two stories a day. And so when you’re doing that and you’re pumping out content, you’re pumping out these stories to sit back and breathe and be able to get a tip and be able to follow up and be able to ask the tough questions and be able to go and do the FOIA requests and everything along those lines. That takes time. And that is time, unfortunately, that a vast majority of journalists do not have. That’s sure. So so when you say that you are 100% correct and and it’s very, very sad because that is the check and balance in in government to be able to to combat corruption.

Top Left Corner: When I was my first job, my first newspaper job, I was a reporter for the Sentinel Enterprise out in Worcester County, which is a little bit larger than the Eagle, but not much. It’s about the same. And I covered as bureau chief the city of Leominster alone. It’s a city of 55,000 people that I covered alone. And no matter how many hours a day I put in, I could only do the bare minimum. I could only report on what happened at city council meetings or school committee meetings. I couldn’t necessarily analyze it, couldn’t make any sense of it, and certainly couldn’t spot, you know, more than a little bit of suspicious activity. I guess as the mayor, you know, if you were to win, you could certainly set a tone. You can certainly make it known that you don’t put up with.

John Krol: Let me tell you. Yeah, let me tell you, Jason, and this this may or may not be helpful as it relates to that sort of investigative piece, but I do intend on being the most accessible mayor in the history of Pittsfield. And, you know, there’s a few components to that. But one of those component is to have an open press conference each and every week. No topic, no particular focus just every week, say Thursday at 3:00. I don’t know. Pick a time. You know, we will have any and all journalists who wish to be a part of it come in and ask questions and have a conversation. I think that’s I think that’s old school. I think, you know, politics has been so controlled, it has become so staged that we forget that it wasn’t long ago that JFK would just sit there and take questions from 100 reporters out there and and take real questions. And they weren’t, you know, and they and there was nothing staged. Um, you know, we can we can do that in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That’s that’s easy. Um, you know, I, I really enjoy talking to journalists because I understand the perspective that that you come from. I think it is a critical piece for people, not only just to feel that they have access, but to actually provide that real understanding of, Hey, this is the everyday. And hey, we did say last week that we are going to work on this project. We tried. We really didn’t get much progress this week, but we’re going to keep at it, you know? Just be honest, you know, just be honest. And and when we screw up, we’re going to admit it, you know, and and I feel like people respect that. People really want to see government more open and accessible. And so that’s what I really want to bring to the table.

Top Left Corner: That’s, that’s a good answer. And I like the idea of bringing back the old school weekly press press conference that that is an amazing suggestion. And I hope if you win that you’re able to follow through with that. I started with corruption because to me, everything else that you and other candidates say you’d like to see in Pittsfield depend on on transparency and on honest government. You talk about bringing business back into the Berkshires, and I think that you need to have a fairly clean landscape. You know, it’s got to take root in good soil. You know, that’s that’s what business needs.

John Krol: Amen.

Top Left Corner: When you’ve got when you’ve got the we’ve got the real estate, the commercial industrial and residential real estate. We’ve got, you know, we’ve got colleges that are able to help train people and high schools. We’ve got some tech schools there. There’s a whole bunch of opportunity that has not really garnered the sort of results that I know a lot of people are desperate to see. What is your vision of what a a a thriving or an on its way to thriving business community would look like?

John Krol: Well, that’s a wonderful question. And first and foremost, when I look at business, first we have to look internally and say, how are we doing as it relates to encouraging businesses to set up shop in Pittsfield and also to help them grow in Pittsfield? And honestly, Jason, right now we are not doing a good job with that because our permitting process and our building inspections office is clunky at best and at times can be very, very difficult. So no one in any way, shape or form is saying that we have to not follow codes. Of course we have to make sure we maintain safety and codes and and all of of that. However, there is an approach as far as your culture, and we need to shift our culture to one in which we are working with businesses, working with contractors, working with architects and engineers to find solutions to make it work, as opposed to putting up roadblocks. That’s a very key part of what we are proposing in this campaign, and I think that is if you talk to business owners in Pittsfield or people even attempting to do business in Pittsfield, this is clear that there are real challenges there. So that’s going to be one of the first things that we address under under my administration potentially. I look at Pittsfield, like I mentioned, in the heart of the Berkshires, we have a downtown that’s unlike Lenox, unlike Great Barrington is is devoid of foot traffic in a real sense. And yet we have the core components of it here. We have a Tony Award winning theater company. We have a six screen stadium seat, movie theater.

John Krol: My gosh, you know, a hotel that is is the envy of of many small communities, a boutique hotel that’s world class, a downtown hardware store. We have so many key components. But in between, we don’t have the level of retail that gives us the foot traffic, I think, that that we can attain. So there are some things that I would like to do. You know, back in the early 2000, we had a project called the Storefront Artists Projects, which was remarkable. Maggie Mailer was the leader with Peter Dudeck, and it was innovative and it brought life to those empty storefronts. And I think there’s a way we can revitalize that concept today to bring new life to those spaces. But also it’s time to really get serious about recruiting businesses back to Pittsfield. And gosh, I mean, think about it. We don’t even have a bagel shop in downtown Pittsfield. You know, we could use a chocolate shop. We could use a toy store, we could use a bakery. So that’s one component because the downtown is your front foot step. And there are some business owners who have said, hey, John, you’re focusing a little bit too much on the downtown. You know, don’t forget about us over in the Allendale Shopping Center and don’t forget about us. About us, about the, uh, at the Downing Industrial Park, these sorts of things. And and I agree. However, the downtown is the front doorstep. So I think we need to start there and re-energize our efforts there. And then finally, you raised a an idea about workforce. And when we built Taconic High School, um, it was made very much for this.

John Krol: That is, we have a desperate shortage of plumbers, electricians, carpenters and car mechanics. There are so many of these positions and there is so that there’s a demand for these positions that I think to kind of high school is going to play a key role in that. And the more that we can do between Taconic High School, working with Berkshire Community College, that is where some of the magic can happen. So so my goal will be to elevate that, as you know, to kind of high school. We made a bit of an error when Taconic High School was first built, that when it was first built, we had all these students from Reed Middle School who were like, Wow, we got a new high school. Of course we’re going to go to the new high school. And the principal at the time said, Yep, bring them in. But the problem was we brought in a lot of traditional students who weren’t career tech students. So the school committee ultimately made that change. So we’re 100% career tech, which I think ultimately is going to be helpful as we look to address these challenges. There are so many great opportunities for the trades. And I talked to gentlemen in tradesmen in our unions and they say the same thing, that, gosh, if we could produce 50 more plumbers, 50 more electricians or more. That would make a huge impact and help business and help a lot of families grow and prosper in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. So that’s something that is absolutely going to be a focus.

Top Left Corner: And that’s a great high school, by the way. It’s just a fantastic it’s a fantastic structure and it’s really well designed. It’s attractive. But I think there’s there’s a side of the bringing businesses in. That it’s going to happen, but there’s also generating business here at home. New York State has this really neat program wherein they give out grants to. Groups of people, mostly in the trades, who are looking to start worker owned co-ops and that say it’s a business where everybody gets you know, everybody puts in and everybody gets an equal share of the profits and things like that. It works really well with things like, you know, stores like like a co-op, grocery stores. It works really well with restaurants, farms, but it could just as easily work with, say, a small boutique furniture company wherein we have you could probably find 25 people who are great woodworkers who would, you know, potentially get together, start a shop where they can even perhaps have a storefront on Main Street as well. You know, sort of the the Ethan Allen Jr. Of the Berkshires. And I know that this can work because there’s a there’s a fellow over in Shelburne Falls who is selling $25,000 kitchen sets. And so I know it’s possible I think and this isn’t obviously you didn’t have any chance to review this this notion. So I’m not going to ask you to comment too much on it.

John Krol: Jason, I’m very I’m very aware of that concept and that model. And I want to tell you that there I think over time has been opportunities where if we were creative, that that was something that perhaps we could have worked through with some innovation in the past. But but here’s the thing. The great thing about a model like that, a worker owned model, is that, first of all, it makes sure that those profit margins stay in the pockets of local people. So that’s incredibly important. So the time, effort, energy and the skills that individuals are putting in to to building things, to creating a product that has value, that it stays in this community. And I am a huge supporter of anything that we can do that is sustainable in that way that the dollars circulate back here, for instance, I think that taking the steps to food sustainability is a huge opportunity right now.

John Krol: I don’t think there is a better time to take the first real steps at bringing back food sustainability than now. You have people getting crushed at the grocery store with the inflation. We’re also understanding how unhealthy corporate food is ultimately for our people. And when it comes down to it, we have land, we have the expertise, we have the knowledge. Then think about how do we organize this in a way where we can scale. So I’ve had some conversations with our friends at Roots Rising and and others. And you know, this this is real. If we can take the steps and put ourselves in a position that we can really create this at a level that’s just beyond a community garden, which are which are also great, by the way. Um, but, but I think we can scale it to a place where it can really make a positive economic impact in our community. So anything that we can bring local worker owned within our own ecosphere, that’s a positive step.

Top Left Corner: That’s an excellent point. And I think that we already have so much of the infrastructure in place right now to build upon, to to make it, you know, to make it grow. Yeah. The the great thing about it is and you could have worker owned farms as well, worker owned farm stands. The great thing about the worker owned model, too, is if you’ve got, say, a shop with 25 people working in it, let’s say you’ve got 20 or 30 of those shops, if 2 or 3 of them don’t make it, that doesn’t bring the whole economy down. You know, that’s that’s a few shops. That’s not like, you know, watching, you know, 3000 jobs just get sucked out to either down south or overseas, which is, you know, obviously kind of where the entire industrial ecosphere of the Berkshires has has gone. I mean, it’s really a staggering thing. We’ve done a lot to mitigate, but that’s only in part because we’ve lost so many people over the last 30 years, especially in places like North North. Adams But Pittsfield is a as I said, it’s a it’s the hub. And you mentioned that some people say that, John, let’s let’s not forget about, you know, the other parts of town, whether it’s South Pittsfield or East Pittsfield. Um, and that’s true. But it is the case that for visitors downtown is that’s the face of the city. I mean, that’s the forward looking, public facing zone. And there are a lot of. Challenges that any incoming administration is going to be facing that have been dealt with to greater and lesser degrees by past mayors. Let’s talk about let’s talk about homelessness. Let’s talk about the the drug problem. Those are two things that every. Every visitor can’t help but run across if they walk up North Street a few blocks.

John Krol: Yeah, it it definitely is a challenge and it’s something that we have to address with empathy and compassion. But also I, I think just with a level of sensible accountability, I feel as though, um, having downtown foot patrol will be helpful, not in a punitive way, but in a way that is able to increase communication between the business owners and individuals who need help. And I feel as though working with the social service agencies is really important. I’m not sure if you’re aware, I’m sure you are, but it is a six month wait in order to get a mental health appointment. If you have mass health at the brain center and the brain center is the provider for those with mass health in those particular cases. So we’re talking about mental health addiction, kinds of challenges. So looking at that backlog, we really got to have a heart to heart conversation here with our state legislators, you know, with our friends at the brain center. And I have spoken to the executive director there about those challenges, that there is a massive amount of turnover in the social service world when it comes to those frontline engagement positions.

John Krol: And, you know, basically a social worker at the at the Breen Center may be there for about two years or so. And at that point, they receive a higher license and often they will leave at that point, partly because they can get a higher wage and partly because, frankly, there’s burnout. It is a tough it is a tough job. There’s no question about it. So I think. Masshealth reimbursement is something that we need to look at and advocate for, but also understand, okay, how how are these funds being used and and what are the wages based on the overall allocation of these resources. So I think that’s a big it’s a pretty complex conversation. I’ve worked in health care in the past, so I’m very familiar with these kinds of things and and reimbursements and such. But I feel as though that we’ll never really address these challenges unless we’re able to make sure we have enough resources and enough people in these positions in our social service agencies, because there is a lot of need there, there’s a lot of addiction. Um, certainly homelessness, as you mentioned, and, and mental health challenges, no question about it.

Top Left Corner: I’m glad that you started off from a place of empathy because I think that’s critical, whether it’s whether you’re dealing with addiction, whether you’re dealing with mental health issues, whether you’re dealing with homelessness. You know, I have heard I follow this issue almost maniacally really, because I always feel like there’s got to be a solution. We are have an amazing amount of resources in this country. We have an amazing amount of data. And yet people don’t come up with solutions. You know, once upon a time and you can tour the Berkshires tour of Massachusetts, Connecticut, a lot of New England towns and the towns have a. A often have a road called Town Farm Road. And a lot of folks don’t know what Town Farm Road comes from. But like a lot of great things that you see in New England, towns like the Gallows Road, if you think about it, it comes to you. Town Farm Road typically indicates that at one point in time it was a farm that was owned by the town, some property that was a place where those who had no means could live. They wouldn’t have to pay rent, they would work on the farm.

Top Left Corner: They’d basically sell. They would grow the food for themselves to to feed themselves and to sell for whatever they needed. Now, it wasn’t intended to be punitive and it wasn’t a workhouse to speak of, but it was the case that if you happen to be, let’s say, a, oh, I don’t know, a soldier who, you know, you’re 75 years old, you’re a veteran, you’ve got nowhere to go. This was a place that you could have a little cabin and you could be cared for and it could give you some dignity. You know, in tough times. I often wonder if if and this is maybe a much larger. Well, it’s definitely a much larger conversation. But if you couldn’t combine our agricultural capacity with social services, health care, mental health services, addiction treatment into a sort of a town farm model where people can have dignity, they can learn skills, they can get, you know, get the help they need, and also do it in a place that’s sort of holistic and do it in a place that’s a natural setting, just something to sort of tuck into your into your subconscious there when you’re looking for solutions.

John Krol: A key there’s a key value there that when you talk to people who work in addiction recovery fields, often what they talk about for people who go and they relapse. And this may sound simple, but, you know, again, I’m not I don’t I don’t work directly in this field. But this is what I hear from individuals who work in that field. Often people relapse because they don’t have something to do. And I know that sounds very, very simple, but but it’s actually quite deep in the sense that, okay, there is nothing ultimately that provides perhaps purpose and purpose is the key. So, you know, as I understand it and how I feel about this. So individuals who are recovering from addiction, for example, or many of these challenges, mental health, homelessness, you know, if you provide purpose. I think that’s what you’re talking about in part. And and it is an amazing concept. So I feel as though that’s wonderful. And whether it’s a farming aspect or whether it’s cooking, you know, teaching, you know, something that’s tactile often is is helpful. You know, these kinds of things. So that’s absolutely the frame of mind that I have in working with the people who are the experts in this. Don’t, you know, make no mistake, I’m not an expert in this. However, I think I, I and I do think that this is the role of the mayor, even though the mayor is supposedly the I mean, the role is that you are the CEO of city services and the city budget and and you have that sort of corner of work to do. I look at the mayor’s position as as an expansive role. And the mayor ought to be providing guidance on these types of things. So so I really appreciate that that idea and that concept. And when it comes down to it, it is about it is about purpose. And if we’re creative enough, we can find a way that that purpose enhances the community as a whole.

Top Left Corner: Well, that would be that would be an ideal situation. And and the last question that I’ve got for you, the last topic I know that I promised I wouldn’t keep you too long, but this is this is the this is, to me sort of wraps it up. We have an amazing, uh, an atrocious, really economic divide in the Berkshires that goes that is so invisible to so many people. You’re never going to eliminate poverty, but certainly through jobs, through better education, you can mitigate it a little bit. But rather than talk about the most abject poverty or the things that we can do to to mitigate it in the short term, what can we do? To bring people who are at the at the the lower income levels of the local economy in Pittsfield into the mainstream so that they feel they are part of the community. Do you know what I mean? You know, once upon a time, if you look at a Norman Rockwell painting, okay, the painting, the freedom of speech, you know, it’s a little town, a little town hall, and there’s a guy standing up and he’s speaking and he’s clearly some sort of a mechanic or something. And he’s sitting next to some guy in a three piece suit. It speaks to a time when everybody felt like they had the right to participate. Maybe the responsibility to participate and that that they weren’t going to get chased away. The people I talked to often feel and I talked to a lot of people, especially in the service economy and landscape as waiters, you name it. When I asked them, how do they feel about, you know, the ability of the the city to to make a comeback, They always talk about it in terms of what other people are doing. How do we get people to the point where they feel like they can and should and would be welcomed to join in to these these processes?

John Krol: Wow. That is that is a wonderful question. And we probably could could have an entire forum and and three hour podcast on this. But just looking at it from the political perspective, I guess this is also framing the challenge as well. When you look at running a campaign, how do you approach things? There are many campaigns that simply go to what are called super voters, you know, so and they’re going to spend all their time. Trying to engage and trying to get those people who vote all the time into the political process. And I find that incredibly unfortunate because what happens is then that just leads into a vicious cycle of people being involved and continuing to be and then those who are not involved continuing to feel as though they are not involved. So you can kind of take that concept. And the reason why I mentioned that is because you can kind of take that concept and relate it to all kinds of different areas, economics. You can look at education as well. Um, you know, it is my goal for sure to engage the full spectrum of our community in this campaign. I feel as though that when it comes to the economics of our downtown, for instance, yeah, there’s been a history of, you know, saying, okay, well, we want to position ourselves in the cultural heart of the Berkshires. But at the same time, we’ve also had third Thursdays that were perhaps the most diverse events that this county has ever seen. And it was a huge success for many, many years on that level.

John Krol: So I think that tapping back into that community and that in that sense and saying we are we are open and we are going to engage. I represented the West Side for a decade, and there are people who today in the West Side neighborhood still feel as though the kids do not feel comfortable, for instance, going to the boys club. They would they they want to have a community center in the west side because they feel as though that it is not fully for them. You know, there as you said it, there are divides. There are definitely definite divides. Um, I feel as though that that there are great opportunities to bridge that divide. Um, there’s no silver bullet to it. There’s no solution. But I think it’s a but I think it is a mentality coming into this, you know, that, that who are you representing and what is the city of Pittsfield And the city of Pittsfield is the most diverse municipality in the Berkshires by far. And so having represented the West Side neighborhood in the past, you know, I have a unique insight into this divide to some extent. Um, and I think there are opportunities, but I, I don’t have a great answer, Jason, on how to do it. It’s just doing it at every single pass and having that in mind and having that be a part of the ether as you approach every single day in City Hall.

Top Left Corner: All right. Well, I think I think, you know, as I said, it’s it’s a huge topic. And I didn’t expect a formula, you know, a recipe to just sort of come pouring out. And so but no, I think I think the idea that it’s an attitude, it’s a I think he’s used the word mentality. I think that’s if that is your mentality to be inclusive and not just as lip service because we hear that word so darn often and I don’t always see that the results of inclusivity end up being with a whole bunch of people included. And so it’s got to be more than a buzzword. It’s got to be something that you that you live and that you practice. And it sounds like you’ve got some experience doing that. So that’s that’s encouraging. I want to thank you so very much for taking this bonus time. You realize I’m going to have to give your opponents the same amount of time now, but, you know, let an informed public is.

John Krol: The more time, the merrier.

Top Left Corner: Fantastic. Um, you know, I had an acquaintance who told me once, if you ever really want to get to know somebody, talk to them for 20 minutes, because for 15 minutes, they can hold their crazy in after 20 minutes, the crazy. The crazy starts to leak out. So you did pretty good. That was about 45 minutes. But you’re a professional, so, you know, you’ve got the you’ve got the skills. I guess I should ask you, you know, you’ve got the media, you’ve got the journalism, you’ve got the political things. You’re not just trying to become a new Jerry Springer because, you know, he was the mayor of Chicago.

John Krol: Thing is, he was mayor. He was mayor first. And then he became a…

Top Left Corner: That’s true. Well, we could do worse. Well, there you go. All right. Well, once you give listeners a chance to to know where to go to find out more.

John Krol: Our website is Kroll for pittsfield.com. That’s Kroll for Pittsfield. And we’re also on Facebook. John Krol for Pittsfield mayor, also on Instagram and certainly LinkedIn as well for you folks who are in the professional world. Don’t post quite as much on LinkedIn as the others, but primarily it’s Facebook and Instagram. But certainly we would love to hear from you. There is plenty of opportunity to communicate through the website, Facebook and Instagram. I look forward to meeting anyone who wants to sit down and have a coffee, tea or any other warm beverage.

Top Left Corner: Well, we will put links to all of these things in the show notes. We will be releasing all interviews on the same day. I have made the mistake of doing one a day and then every single successive candidate got to refine their their speech, their shtick based on what the previous candidates said on my show. And we can’t have that. So we’ll be releasing them all at the same time so that people can have probably like a four hour listening session of all the all the Pittsfield political dreams and schemes that could ever want. So for now, John, stay, stay. I guess we can stay cool. I was going to say stay warm, but it’s the summertime now. Stay cool and we will talk to you soon.

John Krol: Oh, Jason, what a great pleasure. Great meeting you and a lovely conversation. And I look forward to meeting you in person soon.

Top Left Corner: Likewise. Take care.

Jason Velázquez

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades.
Phone: (413) 776-5125

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