To Mayor Paul Heroux:
History may have told us that you would defeat your challenger, Heather Porreca, on Tuesday. After all, only one first-term mayor in Attleboro’s 105 years as a city has lost a re-election bid (Brenda Reed to Kai Shang in 1985).
But election victories are never easy, especially against a well-known candidate with an organized campaign. Well done.
What was truly stunning was the 2-to-1 margin of victory. Few would have predicted that. It says a lot about what voters think of your accomplishments in the first two years as Attleboro’s chief executive.
While looking around at other election results this week, I noticed that Fall River voters showed the door to disgraced Mayor Jasiel Correia — finally.
That got me to thinking. I first walked into Attleboro City Hall to cover city politics in 1982. You were about 5 at the time.
I sat in at city council and school committee meetings, interviewed mayors and other city officials and had their phone numbers memorized (back when you had to do that). Later, as an editor, I ardently followed the goings-on at 77 Park St., commenting at times when I saw something that I thought was awry.
It struck me when I read about Correia’s ouster after not one but two indictments that Attleboro’s citizens have been extremely fortunate when it comes to their mayors. There have been not just good ones but great ones.
I think that Attleboro really struck it rich in the quarter-century that preceded your tenure in City Hall. Starting in 1992, Judy Robbins and Kevin Dumas showed outstanding leadership as Attleboro’s chief executive.
Robbins, I believe, had an unsurpassed vision of Attleboro and how it could evolve from industrial hub to a bustling small city that serves as home to a diverse population. And I think Dumas had a great understanding of what the city taxpayers wanted — and didn’t want — and what they expected — and didn’t expect — from their city government.
Paul, please continue that tradition.
Your tenure got off to a great start when you convinced voters to raise their taxes to build a new Attleboro High School and the city council to authorize the purchase of bankrupt Highland Country Club.
Your focus now appears to be on rebuilding the downtown, and every Attleboro resident wants that to happen.
And you’ve got a great opportunity to make it happen in the next two or four years you will spend as mayor.
I understand congratulations are also in order for something else: You’re getting a dog.
Everyone in Attleboro, across Massachusetts, and in all of America was touched by the story of you and your dog Mura. How the two of you went everywhere, did everything together, from gathering signatures for office to reading to schoolchildren to being the center of attention at Attleboro parades.
Everyone was heartbroken when you posted the news of Mura’s non-treatable cancer. And all were touched when you and Mura took your farewell, two-week, 8,500-mile journey across the country before she left you in March.
That’s the Paul Heroux Attleboro residents wants.
Attleboro residents do NOT want another campaign like the one they just witnessed.
Yes, it takes two to clash. But I have seen six of your predecessors debate and none would have responded with the personal jabs and rehearsed zingers that you did.
As a letter writer to this newspaper put it, the mayoral candidates “should go back to the sandbox and learn how to play nicely together.”
Please, Paul, channel the warmth we saw with you and Mura. That’s what Attleboro wants in a mayor.
And congratulations again on your victory — and on your new dog.