Democrats, Republicans Open Berkshire Campaign Offices
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
The Republicans opened an office in the former Pizza Hut in Coltsville.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Both the Republican and Democratic parties have opened campaign headquarters in the city for the November general election.
On Friday,local Republicans held an open house at their new headquarters in the former Pizza Hut on Dalton Avenue and on Saturday, Democrats held a grand opening of their South Street office. Both offices will be the Berkshire headquarters for the statewide election.
"There will be anywhere from two to five [here] people at night. We'll be open every day from 9 until 5 on weekdays and on weekends by appointment," said Berkshire County Republican Association Chairman Jim Bronson.
Democratic Western Massachusetts Field Director Jon D'Angelo said their office will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. The 2 South St. location will be the home of their efforts for canvassing and making phone calls.
"With 37 days left, we've got work to do," D'Angelo said on Saturday during the grand opening that featured Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. "This is going to serve as our hub."
The Democrats have Martha Coakley at the top of the ticket for governor and Steve Kerrigan as her running mate. Deborah Goldberg is the Democratic nominee for treasurer and Maura Healey for attorney general. William Galvin is seeking re-election for secretary of the commonwealth and Suzanne Bump is running for re-election as auditor. On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is up for re-election.
The Republicans have Charlie Baker at the top of their ticket forgovernor with Karyn Polito for lieutenant governor. John Miller is running for attorney general; Mike Heffernan for treasurer; Patricia Saint Aubin for auditor; and David D'Arcangelo for secretary of the commonwealth. Brian Herr is challenging Markey on the federal level for U.S. Senate.
"What a tremendous team we have here," Republican State Committee member Michael Case said at Friday's open house. "This is a great team and it is a team. They are all politicking together."
The Republicans believe that without an incumbent running for the governor's office, they can win the election. Case and Bronson both gave speeches to help rally the 60 or so Republicans who attended the open house. The Republican office was opened by the Berkshire County Republicans Association with help from the state party.
"This is one of the few times in recent history where we have an excellent chance to take over the corner office on Beacon Hill," Bronson said. "Our best shot right now is with Charlie and Karyn."
Case said the independent voters are the key to the election.
"We're from Massachusetts. Two-thirds of my friends are Democrats and I am amazed at how many of them are telling me they don't like [Coakley] and are voting for Charlie," Case said. "If we can get them, we can get our targets, which are the independents."
On the Democratic side, nearly 100 people filled the South Street space, including an array of elected officers.
"We have work to do. It has to be done in the usual ways. It has to be done by talking to you friends, neighbors and co-workers. It has to be done by talking to folks who don't already agree with us," the governor said. "These candidates are not running to be officeholders for Democrats. They are running to be officeholders for everybody and that means getting out and listening to everybody."
Democratic Western Massachusetts Field Organizer Jon D'Angelo welcomed Gov. Deval Patrick to the Pittsfield office.
Neal called for Democrats to stay competitive in the race even with the Citizens United decision, which has changed the way campaigns are financed. He called for volunteers to focus on the upcoming race.
"Citizens United was a disaster for American politics but that is the rule. We have to figure out how to address this to make sure our candidates are competitive," Neal said.
Neal said it is important to elect Coakley because it will continue the legacy Patrick started. Patrick, however, says it isn't about him.
"This election, frankly just like the previous election and the election before that, is not about me. It is about whether we are in fact going to have the kind of leadership that is about the next generation and not the next election cycle," he said.
With both party offices now open, both campaigns are calling on volunteers to help with canvassing and phone calls.
"We know when we get our vote out to the polls, we will elections," said Chairman of the Democratic Coordinated Campaign state Sen. Benjamin Downing. "It is about organization and it is about communication."
Bronson emphasizesd that the campaign in the Berkshires will be "somebody who lives in the Berkshires calling people who live in the Berkshires."
Treasurer Candidate Heffernan Calls For More Efficient Money Management
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
Mike Case and Mike Heffernan pose for a photo in the local Republican campaign headquarters in Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With Massachusetts being a "wealthy state" Mike Heffernan says there is no reason homelessness should be increasing.
Heffernan has spent 30 years in the financial industry and when he looks over the state's financials, he believes they could be a lot better. The state may be growing its tax revenue but that isn't translating into job creation, he said.
As the Republican candidate for the treasurer's seat, he hopes to change that. By managing the state's finances better, Heffernan says more money could go toward local aid to help towns reduce the cost of living and property taxes. He looks at the number of homeless families as a "litmus test" showing that the money isn't working the way it should be.
"I started looking at the state numbers and I realized we are on an unsustainable path of higher taxes, higher fees," Heffernan said. "I had to get involved. I'm pretty moderate in most things; I just believe government can be more efficient and shouldn't be crowding out the private sector."
The state has placed an emphasis on education and is leading the country in success. Heffernan says the government needs to bring the private sector into the fold to help on the job creation end. He's calling for state regulations on businesses to be cut by a third.
"We're 45th in job creation and we're 1st in education," he said.
He says the office is the second most important in the state and he wants to use it to help bring issues Democrats haven't been talking about to the forefront. Having another viewpoint can help drive focus on issues that otherwise wouldn't be talked about, he said.
"It is hard and soft power. The treasurer is a constitutional officer and the hard power is being able to appoint people to the boards that oversee the [Alcohol Beverages Control Commission], the Lottery and the pension system. And making the ultimate decision of if we should issue debt or not. The soft power is going early on, the day after I am elected, I'd go to the leaders and say how can we solve the common goals," Heffernan said.
For example, the state's pension system is first on his mind. The system vastly underfunded, he said, and has been constantly ranked as one of the worst in the country. Some of those revenues need to be put toward offsetting those obligations, he said.
"We are a very wealthy state. Tax receipts are up more than $6 billion over the past five years and that money should be going to our obligations. Our pension obligations are like a very expensive credit card. It is 8 percent debt. What they've done is not funded the pension system as much as they could for less effective programs," Heffernan said.
The Southborough businessman spent most of his career with Citigroup, rising to oversee the company's seven U.S. regional distribution offices. In 2010, he moved on to founding Mobiquity Inc., an information technology company.
While at Citigroup, Heffernan couldn't be politically active because of the ethical issues that could arise. Now that he is on his own, he wants to give back since his career work has been similar to that of a treasurer.
"Massachusetts is a very expensive place to live but it doesn't have to be," Heffernan said.
He said he'll put more of the state's funds into the community banking partnership program, which loans the state's reserves to community banks to provide a portfolio for loans to smaller businesses. And he'll lower the barriers for banks to participate.
"There are 60 communities that have much higher unemployment and 12 communities that dabble in double digits. We can target those markets," Heffernan said.
The treasurer sits on the Massachusetts School Building Authority board and he sees that as a way to advocate for more money for schools. His career has been focused on getting financing for businesses; the MSBA, he says, is financing towns and districts.
When it comes to local aid, Heffernan said the largest source comes from the Lottery system. "Every dollar we can get out of the overhead is a dollar we can give back to towns," he said.
Heffernan launched his campaign in January but did not have a primary race. Now he's ramping up to reach as many voters as possible. He will be on the ballot against Democrat Deborah Goldberg and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Ian Jackson.
Kerrigan Pushes Regional Economic Plan in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
State Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan talked economics during a morning walk down North Street.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan is back to work after winning the Democratic nomination last week.
Kerrigan was in Pittsfield on Wednesday morning to walk North Street with state Sen. Benjamin Downing and state Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Gailanne Cariddi.
The local officials explained the mixture of economic development projects — from the streetscape and the proposed Hotel on North to ideas on how to free additional commercial space. They explained the county's economy as well and how it works alongside of Pittsfield — or as Pignatelli put it, "Pittsfield is the hub of a wheel."
Kerrigan and gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley are pushing a plan to create 16 regional economic sectors and invest more than $500 million over the next decade into a mixture of projects such as are happening in downtown Pittsfield.
"It was important to have Gail and Smitty here. Through Gateway Cities [state program], Pittsfield can access to a lot more services and resources through the state. But, Adams and parts of Gail's district and Lee and parts of Smitty's district cannot," Kerrigan said.
"With this regional economic approach where we'd create 16 different regions and give folks $500 million over 10 years so, they can look at the projects they would like to do and work together inside of their community to prioritize those things. That flexibility and giving the local folks a chance to decide their own future and grow their own economy is critical part of how we are going to move Massachusetts forward."
Kerrigan contrasted their plan to the Republican ticket of Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, saying they would be cutting investments.
"We cannot be complacent in this election. We need Democrats and independents and even Republicans to show up and support the Coakley/Kerrigan ticket because we have the right vision for the future of the commonwealth and Charlie and Karyn Polito have a backward vision," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan said in the race for governor, it is important for the Democrats to reach as many people as possible and tell them "what's at stake." While Baker and Polito will try to campaign as moderates, he said they'll governor in a much more conservative way and cut funding for projects.
"Karyn Polito and Charlie Baker both ran much more tea party campaigns in 2010 and the only thing that has changed in four years is that less people like the tea party so they are changing their tone and trying to convince us that they are the happy warriors. We can't let them get away with that," Kerrigan said.
Baker on Wednesday unveiled an economic plan of combined tax credits, increased local aid and the creation of 25 "Opportunity Zones."
Kerrigan and Coakley were first out of the gate to challenge the Republicans to six debates across the state.
He said both he and Coakley, the current attorney general, have already formed a strong base heading into first the convention and then the primary.
"We started early organizing and building the grassroots organization across the state. We mobilized for the convention and then carried on through and it worked," Kerrigan said. "We hope to bring that forward to win in November."
He added, "We're going to be a great partnership and our teams are working well together."
The Kerrigan/Coakley ticket is not only the best on the ballot, he says, but also a "historic" one.
"It is a great ticket. It is going to be a historic ticket. We've got the chance to elect the first woman governor, which is going to have a big impact on folks," Kerrigan said.
Coakley, Baker to Face Off in November Election
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The slate of candidates in the statewide general election is set.
For governor, Charlie Baker soared to victory in the Republican primary Tuesday over Mark Fisher. And Berkshire native Martha Coakley won in the Democratic primary. Those two will join independent Evan Falchuk in the November general election to choose Gov. Deval Patrick's replacement.
"It is a new day, let's make it ours," Coakley said to conclude a speech to supporters Tuesday night when she outlined a platform based on making pre-K universal, requiring earned sick time for workers, improved mental health services and "regional economies."
"We want all of our kids to find a dream and give them a chance to follow it," Coakley said of her education plan.
She added that she wants to spend $500 million in a 10-year period to grow regional economies.
Coakley will be paired with lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan, who won his nomination over Mike Lake and Leland Cheung. Kerrigan had 50 percent of the state's vote compared to Cheung's 30 percent and 20 percent for Lake.
Coakley soared locally with North County strongly behind her — particularly in North Adams, where she graduated high school. In North Adams, she had 68 percent compared to Steven Grossman's 19 percent and 13 percent for Donald Berwick.
However, less than 10 percent of registered voters made it to the polls. A total of 824 voters of the 8,720 registered voted.
Election worker Ron O'Brien said it was the "slowest" he's ever seen in an election. That was common all across the state, with many towns reporting turnout in the teens. In Adams, only 679 of the 5,858 registered voters turned out.
"I think we hit 12 percent, which isn’t great, but it is good," said Town Clerk Haley Meczywor said. "Two years ago, we had 14 percent so we weren’t too far off."
In other parts of the county, the race was closer. In Pittsfield, Coakley had 1,193 votes to Grossman's 910 and Berwick's 630 — 43 percent, 33 percent and 22 percent. Pittsfield also saw a low voter turnout with only 11 percent of the 28,083 voters making it to the polls.
Coakley barely squeaked by in the primary against Grossman and Berwick. Coakley and Grossman were running neck and neck throughout the night as the results came in. However, Coakley kept a 5 percent lead — with just more than 40 percent of the vote — over Grossman. Losing by that 5 percent at about 10:30 p.m., Grossman conceded.
"We may have fallen short by 5 percentage points. But, we didn't fall short," Grossman said.
He told supporters he was proud of their work and that while the campaign didn't win, it did create an army of activists. The election is more about the ideas, he said. And that is why despite the loss, Grossman is supporting the Democratic nominee in Coakley.
"I want to make sure a Democrat is in the third-floor corner office and I will do everything I can to make that happen," he said.
The state party has already been focusing on the general election and Coakley said now is the time for Democrats to unite.
"We are united as a party and I welcome them and all of their supporters in the fight we have ahead," Coakley said.
With about three-quarters of the Republican vote, Baker claimed victory by 10 p.m. He and Karyn Polito, who ran unopposed for the lieutenant governor nomination, will now be at the top of the Republican ticket.
"Tonight the campaign for a better Massachusetts begins," Baker told supporters as begins to focus the campaign on his Democratic opponents.
In accepting the Republican nomination, Baker said the Democrats have already launched negative attack ads against him.
"They need the people of Massachusetts to vote against me because they are not going to be able to get the people to vote for their candidate," Baker said.
But, he says he and Polito have plans to create jobs, clean up the welfare system, keep taxes low, and restore fiscal discipline. He took his own shots at Democrats saying their leadership has led to corruption and scandals — specifically in the probate court.
Baker won in nearly all of the towns across the state. Three towns he didn't win were in the Berkshires. Republican voters picked Fisher in Clarksburg by a 16-13 vote; Becket with a 22-4 vote; and in Sandisfield with a 9-6 vote.
Baker says his party will give a "new direction" instead of more of the status quo. He said his administration will be "smarter, faster and better" while the Democrats will be "bigger, slower, more complicated and a lot more expensive.
Coakley, speaking about an hour after Baker, shot back saying that Baker isn't the independent he is claiming to be. She cited his previous campaign for governor when she says he was a "tea party Republican."
"We believe the voters are smart enough to see though Charlie's superficial transformation," Coakley said.
She challenged Baker to a "people's pledge" to keep money raised from super PACs out of the general election.
"I'm in this fight for you for people who don't have money or power," Coakley said.
Also running for governor in the general election is Falchuk of the United Independent Party.
In other races, Maura Healey won the Democratic primary for attorney general. She defeated Warren Tolman for the position with 62 percent of the state's vote.
Healey cited her focus on foreclosures, bullying and workers being "cheated" as leading to an overwhelming victory. She will now take on Republican John Miller in the general election.
"These are the fights that have driven this campaign for the beginning," Healey said. "And now I am ready to take this fight on to November."
Deborah Goldberg won the Democratic primary for treasurer over Barry Finegold and Tom Conroy. She will face off against Republican candidate Michael J. Heffernan, who ran unopposed in the primary.
Gubernatorial Candidate Berwick Makes Primary Push in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
Donald Berwick personally thanked supporters for their volunteer efforts in this last weekend before the primary.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was April 2013 when Donald Berwick first came to Pittsfield asking for support in his bid for governor.
Since then he's laid the ground work and earned enough support at the Democratic convention to stay on the ballot. This weekend it all comes to fruition — or, as he says, "it's game time."
"This has been an amazing week. You can feel people who have not been paying attention to the race turning their attention to us. We're emphasizing the distinctive differences between me and the other candidates," Berwick said.
"I am the only candidate committed to single-payer health care, which is Medicare for all and is a major step forward for the state. I am the only candidate opposing casinos. I am the only candidate speaking with clarity what we need to do for hunger and homelessness."
Berwick is hoping for the Democratic nomination and a chance to face off against the presumed Republican candidate Charlie Baker. Berwick was one of the first candidates to staff Western Massachusetts offices and the only one to open an office in Pittsfield for volunteers helping with the final push. In the month of August alone, the campaign has raised about a quarter of a million dollars, he said.
In the next few days, 80,000 doors will be knocked on and thousands of phone calls will be make from volunteers telling residents why they should vote for the doctor.
"I think this state stands a chance of being the kind of example the country needs and it's not going to happen with the regular politicians. It just isn't. We've seen too much of it. It has to be someone coming in with a different background," Berwick said.
Berwick comes from outside of the political sphere. He started as a pediatrician and then formed the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit organization that has grown to have hundreds of employees. He got his first taste of public life as a presidential appointee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he was tasked with implementing a majority of the Affordable Care Act.
"My whole life has been about solutions," Berwick said in a rally speech to the Pittsfield volunteers on Saturday.
He says his competitors Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman won't take the bold steps he is willing to take. It is those difference Berwick says he is trying to show voters before Tuesday's primary. He says he is the best candidate for election in November because he makes decisive statements.
"The insider baseball, the lobbyist influence, the back slapping is just too great. It is paralyzing us," Berwick said. "It is one of the reasons, as opposed to my opponents, to speak out with real strength on issues that are hard to address but we've got to address — single-payer health care for the commonwealth."
He later added, "the core idea is that if you really want solutions and problem solving in the governor's office, I am your candidate. I don't owe lobbyist favors. I didn't pat anyone's back on Beacon Hill," Berwick said.
Ann Berwick is attending some 20 campaign rallies this weekend with her husband.
Sherwood Guernsey, former state representative, says he'll be voting for Berwick based on his values.
"I'm attracted to Don because he understands that it is not just one class. It is not about political interest. It isn't about any of that. What are your values?" Guernsey said. "Here is a guy who stood up for us. He didn't have to do this. He is not a lifelong politician."
Berwick is also opposing casinos, citing an array of negative affects they bring to the economy — a stance neither of the other candidates have taken.
In speaking to the volunteer base on Saturday, Berwick pulled a note from his back pocket from a homeless artist with the words "remember me" on it. He told his staff that he's heard that statement at nearly every campaign stop. And Berwick says he won't just be here asking for votes before the election but he'll be back after.
"I believe in regional equity. The concern people have about being forgotten, they don't have to worry about that for me," Berwick said.
Berwick's wife, Ann, appeared with the candidate Saturday.
"He is just as warm, honest and compassionate and frankly inspiring as he appears," Ann Berwick told the supporters.
She later said, "there are two kinds of voters in this election, those who support Don and those who haven't met him."
The Road To The Primary:
Ex-Medicare Chief Mulling Run for Governor 04-09-2013 - Former Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick was in Pittsfield on Tuesday to introduce himself and listen to Berkshire Brigade members as he 'strongly considers' a run for...
We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.
How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.