Attleboro Mayor Gerald Keane

FOR ATTLEBORO CENTENNIAL PUBLICATION Attleboro Mayor Gerald Keane. 13th mayor. 1978-83.

Eight-term City Councilor Gerald J. Keane overcame the popularity of three-term mayor Raymond L. Macomber to win the corner office in 1977.

An editorial suggested that tax increases in Macomber's last term helped propel the equally popular Keane, who like Macomber was first elected to the city council in 1961, to the top job in city government.

He edged Macomber with 52 percent of the vote, the first of three terms.

Keane glided to a second term unopposed and edged out political newcomer Edward Doherty with 54 percent of the vote for his last term.

Tax-limiting law Proposition 2 1/2 forced Keane to cut the city budget in his second term, which he said allowed Doherty to come close to ousting him.

He was the first city mayor who had to deal with the consequences of Proposition 2 1/2.

Keane was in office just a month, when the city faced one of the worst weather crises in its history, the Blizzard of '78.

The storm that seemingly came out of nowhere paralyzed the city and the region with almost 3 feet of snow and plunged the new mayor into crisis management mode with little time to learn the intricacies of his new job.

Proposition 2 1/2 took effect in 1982, the first year of Keane's third and final term, but which Keane had to plan for in his second term.

He was credited in a newspaper editorial for successfully navigating those uncharted waters just after he announced he would not seek a fourth term.

"His single greatest achievement is that Attleboro, an older industrial city, survived Proposition 2 1/2 - and most of its citizens are better off for it," an editorial writer said.

Keane helped in the creation of the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, obtained $6 million in grants for urban renewal projects and installed computer and central purchasing systems for City Hall.

He was described as "tough and demanding," which perhaps led to a deterioration of relations with the school board and city council.

The paper again weighed in.

"There's no doubt in the final analysis that he did it his way for six years. It's obvious that Keane had the city's best interests at heart, even if the means he chose were sometimes open to criticism."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 13th in a series of profiles of Attleboro's mayors since the city was incorporated 100 years ago in 1914. The Sun Chronicle is publishing a special section today celebrating Attleboro's 100th anniversary as a city.