State Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, Stephen DiNatale and William "Smitty" Pignatelli.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 300 people filled the Pittsfield County Club on Thursday night to support William "Smitty" Pignatelli's election campaign.
The 4th Berkshire District representative is running unopposed for what will be his 7th term.
"I never dreamed of being here for 12 years and going again," Pignatelli said, overlooking the large crowd to kick off his re-election campaign.
"We've done a lot of great things" in the House, he said, but he believes there is more to do. He cited the state's work on requiring all citizens to have health care but said "we have more to do to maintain affordability, to maintain access for individuals and businesses."
He said the state needs to do more for job creation — particularly with modern manufacturing companies to reverse the declining population — and that while the state has invested a lot in higher education, students are still taking on too much debt.
Meanwhile, Pignatelli said the state is "well positioned" financially for the future.
"We are well positioned to take off when the economy really gets rolling," Pignatelli said. "I think the Berkshires is going to be first out of the gates when things get rolling."
The state has more than $1 billion set aside in the so-called "rainy day fund" and the recession has been "rainy," he said. But he believes the economy is turning around.
One of the Berkshire's top economies is tourism and leaders of the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau teamed up to present a gift of thanks for the effort he's put toward the cultural economy.
"We're so grateful of how you support to cultural community and all that you do for us," said Norman Rockwell Museum Director Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman was one of many elected officials on hand for the event.
Pignatelli was a model for Rockwell when he was a boy and Moffatt and Berkshire Visitors Bureau President Laurie Klefos successfully pitched that story to a national magazine on legislators. They presented Pignatelli with a framed copy of the article.
Outgoing Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant told of Pignatelli's work on forming the Berkshire Compact in which he kept the focus on the students.
"When we need to make a case for increased funding for public higher education, Smitty got himself on the committee on higher education so that he could be a voice not just for MCLA or BCC but for the students all across the commonwealth. He did that with great distinction and passion," Grant said.
Grant called Pignatelli more than "an incredible legislator" but also a friend. Another friend of Pignatelli's, state Rep. Stephen DiNatale, drove from Fitchburg for the event. DiNatale said they have become great friends through their work at the State House.
"You can see how much respect and love you have for Smitty Pignatelli. You have to return him to the State House for as long as he wants to return because he is the integrity in the State House. People talk about politicians, integrity and honesty, he is all of those things," DiNatale said. "That is a genuine compliment. This is a great indication of how you feel about Smitty and you are all very, very right."
Thankful for the remarks, Pignatelli then dedicated the campaign to his parents who he says instilled the tradition of "giving back."
Area Democrats Ramping Up For November Statewide Election
State Sen. Benjamin Downing is the chairman of the party's coordinated campaign aimed to rally voters to the polls in November.
RICHMOND, Mass. — County Democrats haven't forgotten the night Republican Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate.
And they don't want anything similar to happen again.
"Scott Brown did nothing fancy in that campaign. He got 100 percent of the people who voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin to come out. One hundred percent of their vote showed up. Sixty percent of our vote came out and we lost," state Sen. Benjamin Downing told area Democrats on Sunday afternoon.
"We know that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach where we lost an election and we know we could have done better."
It's a point Downing's been making as he traverses the state as chairman of the party's "coordinated campaign."
Downing says his role is twofold: communication and organization. The state Democratic Party learned its lesson from the Brown election and is starting early to rally Democratic voters to support whoever comes out of Sept. 9th's primary, he said. While the Democratic candidates are concentrating on primary turnout, the coordinated campaign is working on the next cycle.
"When we get our vote out here in Massachusetts, Democrats win. We've been able to get to 30,000 of those drop-off Democratic voters that generally only come out for a presidential election," Downing said.
On Sunday, Downing was at another Democratic rally, this one closer to home. The barbecue at Camp Russell was organized by the Berkshire state delegation, Register of Deeds Patsy Harris and the Pittsfield Democratic City Committee.
"The goal is to bring energy and awareness to the Democratic party. It is what the coordinated campaign has been doing all summer, Senator Downing has been the chair of that. It is part of the state party's effort to ensure that the grassroots and the Democratic ideals are energized in this big election coming up," said Pittsfield Democratic City Committee Chairman Kevin Sherman.
The gathering drew some 50 or so people for food and drinks, including the elected officials Downing, state Rep. Paul Mark, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and Sheriff Thomas Bowler. Representatives from Congressman Richard Neal's office were also in attendance.
Lieutenant governor candidates Leland Cheung and Steve Kerrigan and attorney general candidate Warren Tolman spoke to party members as they enter the final stretch before the primary.
"To me, the goal is to ensure Massachusetts Democrats don't take for granted what we have. We understand what we want. We understand our ideals. We understand what leaders we want in office. If we want that to continue, we can't take it for granted," Sherman said, calling the Brown election an "eye opener."
"If we don't organize. It we don't stay true to our virtues. If we don't campaign. If we don't work together, we lose the type of leaders we want or get leaders we don't want," Sherman said.
Some of the party's active volunteers, including Sheila Murray of the Berkshire Brigades at left, attended Sunday's event that was both a fundraiser for the party but also a rally for organizers to get out the vote.
Mitt Romney was a governor the party didn't want and Downing says if another Republican is elected to the office, the Democrats will be playing "defense" on every issue.
"We're going to make sure that voters across the commonwealth remember that we've had Republican governors before. We had them for 16 years and we know the result of having Republican governors.
"It leaves us 47th in the nation in job creation. We end up with a Big Dig financing scheme that gives us a billion deficit very single year in transportation investments.
"Beyond that deficit — because it would be one thing if we spent that money wisely but it ties it up in the Big Dig financing scheme that doesn't even help Boston out as much as it should. It certainly doesn't help outlying areas like this or the Cape that needs those investments to grow our economy," Downing said.
In Downing's role as chairman of the coordinated campaign, he says he is "reminding" voters about Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker's party affiliation and his previous stances on issues.
"He's running away from it. He's trying to hide from it. He doesn't want everything that comes with that label. He could run as an independent, nothing is stopping him. He's running as a Republican and he is going own that, every last bit of it," Downing said.
Meanwhile, Downing is organizing canvasses to reach out the voters and emphasizing the state's progress under Gov. Deval Patrick.
"Massachusetts is back in the leadership business again. We're first in the nation in energy efficiency. We're first in the nation in student achievement," Downing said. "We're first in the nation in health care coverage. We are first in the nation in veteran services at a time when we know our federal delegation — Congressman Neal and others — are trying to make sure the [Veterans Affairs] lives up to its promise. We are showing the way."
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Republican candidate for governor Charles D. Baker Jr. will visit Pittsfield on Tuesday, Jan. 21, to appear on a local access show and meet with voters.
Baker will be the guest on Berkshire GOP's television program "Out Front TV." The monthly cable program is broadcast throughout the Berkshires and in the Western Massachusetts cities of Greenfield, Northampton and Westfield. Jim Bronson, chairman of the Berkshire County Republican Association, hosts the television program.
"We are thrilled Charlie is coming back to the Berkshires," said Bronson. "We look forward to his appearance on our show; he's a terrific candidate and will surely be a terrific television guest."
Baker has served as the state's secretary of finance and administration and health and human services. He has spent the past decade as chief executive officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010.
"Out Front TV" issues commentary and features political guests such as former Sen. Scott Brown, former Gov. Jane Swift, Mary Z. Connaughton, Baker's running mate for lieutenant governor Karyn Polito, Don Humason, Michele McPhee, Jim Wallace and William Sturgeon.
Baker will address supporters at Zucco's Family Restaurant, 451 Dalton Ave., at 6 p.m. The public is invited.
Warren Rallies Supporters at Pittsfield Headquarters
Warren greeted, took photos and signed autographs for everyone in attendance.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The message hasn't changed in more than a year on the campaign trail for U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and she vowed to local Democrats on Sunday to keep "fighting" even after the November election.
Warren is at odds with incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, in regards to the economy. While he is emphasizing the private sector, Warren is emphasizing public infrastructure.
"The Republicans say that the way to build a future is to cut taxes for those who have the most, to reduce regulations for the Wall Street companies that broke the economy," Warren said after addressing nearly 100 supporters in her Wahconah Street headquarters. "I'm out here arguing that the way to build a future is that we make the investment in education, in basic infrastructure, in research, in the things that help create a future for ourselves and for our children. This is really about priorities."
Warren said the investment in education, infrastructure and science is affordable but that it requires removing tax breaks from companies that ship jobs or hide their money overseas or oil companies.
"Washington is working for those who can hire an army of lobbyist. It's not right," Warren said.
In a 15-minute address to her supporters, she recalled her family history of going from "the daughter of a maintenance man to a professor at Harvard law school." And that history in public education and child care to eventually getting a "good job offer," is what she fears fewer and fewer people can achieve.
"I grew up in an America that invested in kids. I grew up in an America that expanded opportunity and I fear that America has turned away from that and if we turn away from that, we become fundamentally different people," Warren said.
Counterclockwise from top: Warren addresses supporters; a motorcyclists asks for a bumper sticker from campaign volunteers; local politicians stand behind Warren for an interview with TV news.
That has changed, she said, with only 2.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product being put into infrastructure, public university tuition and fees growing by more than 300 percent in 30 years and medical research being cut in half in the last 30 years.
Warren characterized the goal as a matter of "priorities" by placing the money the country has in three boxes. One box is investing public dollars in private business and "lobbyists," another for the national debt and the third for infrastructure, science and education. She said she'll shift the spending from the "lobbyist" box and place it in the others.
Her campaign has been based on "working families" and investment since last April when she announced her candidacy. One of her last stops before officially announcing was at the law office of Sherwood Guernsey, where local democratic leaders told her they'd support her.
On Sunday, she recalled that visit during a question-and-answer session and thanked her supports for living up to their word.
"We started this campaign in Pittsfield. Now we have an office, we've got volunteers all over the county. They're knocking on doors, they're making phone calls, talking to people in grocery stores and sandwich shops. Ultimately that's what this campaign is about. It's person to person," Warren said after the event.
At that kick off meeting she acknowledged that campaigning would be taxing. More than a year in, she said "I'm holding up great."
The "optimism" and support she said she's received across the state has kept her going and she vowed that she will continue fighting for her supporters even after the election.
"It's the fundamental optimism that drives you every single day. I am out there because I truly believe that there are enough of us here and if we push hard enough, we can make this the country we believe in," Warren said. "I will be out there every single day. I will be out there fighting every step of the way. But don't kid yourself, big money is not going to back down easy."
Also in attendance were U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, Sheriff Thomas Bowler, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Paul Mark, D-Peru.
Nuciforo Releasing Policy Plan During District Tour
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Congressional candidate Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. will release an eight-point policy plan during a districtwide tour on Tuesday, July 17.
The former state senator's eight-point policy plan aims to restore economic justice in America and to restore prosperity to the middle class. The plan aims to revive American manufacturing, ensure retirement security and revitalize small business, among other priorities.
Nuciforo will start the day in Great Barrington, and travel to Holyoke, Springfield, Pittsfield and North Adams.
Nuciforo's tour includes the following times and locations:
8:45: Great Barrington Bagel Company, 777 Main St., Great Barrington
10:30: Open Square, Mill 1, Open Square Way, Holyoke
Noon: Emerson Hall at Mason Wright Retirement Community, 74 Walnut St., Springfield
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The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
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