25 Years Since Fred Kalisz Became Mayor of New Bedford
I first met Fred Kalisz in a field at Buttonwood Park sometime in the latter half of the 1970s. A mutual friend, Gary Golas, who introduced me to Kalisz that day, told me his friend would be Mayor of New Bedford someday.
Roughly 20 years later, Golas' prediction came true.
On November 4, 1997, Frederick M. Kalisz, Jr. shocked incumbent Rosemary S. Tierney at the end of a bitter campaign and was elected Mayor of New Bedford.
The following year, on Monday, January 5, 1998 – now 25 years ago – Frederick M. Kalisz was inaugurated. Kalisz served as mayor from 1998 to 2006, when he lost a re-election bid to Attorney Scott Lang.
When asked by the New Bedford Standard-Times several days before his inauguration about his hopes for 1998, Kalisz was concerned about the state of the city's economy.
"We must stop our economic decline if we hope to reverse the ever-growing social problems in our community," Kalisz wrote. "Our ability to deliver city services and the physical condition of our city is directly dependent on our economic well-being."
While emphasizing the significance of New Bedford's "seafaring heritage," Kalisz said, "We must also exploit every avenue to maximize job opportunities for our residents."
Kalisz pointed to a need to "balance our emphasis between the more traditional manufacturing industries with those industries and services creating new jobs in our economy today."
Kalisz's death due to complications from COVID-19 stunned the community on January 27, 2021. He was 63.
As mayor, Kalisz completed the renovation of Buttonwood Park Zoo, constructed three new middle schools, and created a permanent home for Sea Lab Marine Science Education Center, recently named in his honor. He also helped establish the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
He is survived by his wife Pat and their son Ricky.