Mark Proposes Initiatives to Promote District's Needs, Provide Service
DALTON, Mass. — Paul Mark, Democratic candidate for state representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, has proposed a pair of initiatives aimed at drawing greater attention to Western Mass and providing highly personalized constituent services.
The first is Mark's "Better Know A District" initiative, in which he vows to invite eastern Massachusetts legislators to his district during his first term. Mark contends that, rather than simply exclaiming that eastern Massachusetts forgets about the western part of the state, "I will be proactive about educating my Statehouse colleagues about our way of life."
Mark has indicated several places he wishes to host colleagues to discuss the district's often-forgotten needs, including: farms throughout the district, Crane Paper Company in Dalton, tourist attractions in Shelburne Falls, the Schell Bridge in Northfield and meetings with local school officials to examine regional school concerns.
“For example, when it comes time to reauthorize the Dairy Farm Revitalization Act, I’ll be able to remind my colleagues about the time they visited a dairy farm with me.”
Paul Mark's other proposed program is his "Constituent Canvass" which he will run next summer, if elected. Mark has said he will canvass door-to-door and "bring his office straight to the voters." Given the size of his rural district – the largest in the state – Mark feels that
having one single district office is inadequate to serve constituents. "No matter where a district office might be placed, it would still take other constituents at least an hour to drive there," Mark
"Holding roving office hours throughout the district makes sense in the winter," said campaign spokesperson Steve Hoeschele, "but in the warmer months, Paul wants to provide superior constituent service at the door, in addition to holding roving office hours. This would help
reach out to people who might be shy or unsure of the process of talking with public officials."
"On campaigns, the candidates are always asking voters for help: asking for votes, to put up lawn signs, to contribute money. But if I'm elected as state rep, I want to show up at constituents' doors and ask them how I can help them." Mark will hire an aide with the
intention of performing such outreach as well.
Mark chalks up his "Constituent Canvass" idea to his dedication to being present in all parts of his district. "I'm very used to putting in long hours and driving, so this large district is absolutely cut out for me," he said. Mark commuted from Hancock on the New York border to Amherst and Boston to earn his college degrees, while working full time.
"I'm not going to rest easy if I get elected," Mark added. "That's when the real work starts."
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Mark Picks Up Endorsement from Professional Firefighters
DALTON, Mass. — Paul Mark, Democratic candidate for state representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, picked up the endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts last week. The association boasts 12,000 members across 200 local outfits of the International Association of Firefighters.
“The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts endorsement demonstrates that my vow to fully fund local aid is vital to ensuring the safety of our communities,” said Mark upon receiving the Firefighters’ endorsement.
The PFFM’s backing rounds out Mark’s endorsements from other public safety trade groups that represent police officers and ambulance workers.
“I’m proud that the public safety professionals who lay themselves on the line every day are also lining up to back me,” Mark added.
Mark has earned more political endorsements than all his opponents combined. A full list of his endorsements is available at www.votepaulmark.com.
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Democrats Talks Job Creation For 2nd District
The Democratic candidates for the 2nd Berkshire District met Monday night at Berkshire Community College.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Democratic candidates for representative for the 2nd Berkshire District tried to distinguish themselves for voters before the Sept. 14 primary.
In two debates held Monday night, candidates for the nomination in both parties talked jobs, health are and broadband at Berkshire Community College. Jenn Smith of The Berkshire Eagle was the moderator for both representative debates, sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and hosted by BCC. The candidates are seeking to replace outgoing Rep. Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton.
Thomas S. Szczepaniak
In the first debate, Democrats Paul W. Mark, Noreen P. Suriner and Thomas S. Sczczepaniak agreed in substance that the state needed to do more to aid small business and took aim at Verizon for failing to deliver broadband.
"The best thing the state can do is to start funding new opportunities for new jobs like high-speed rail, like green-energy jobs and by bringing high-speed Internet to Western Massachusetts," said Mark, of Hancock. He'd like to see more effort put into bringing broadband into the region to aid small business and promotion of green jobs.
The region's hope could be the return of high-speed rail, said Mark, which would boost the toursim industry and reduce emissions along with creating jobs. "I think it's something realistic that needs to happen."
Sczczepaniak, a three-term selectman in Dalton, was more down to earth, believing wood by-products had the best chance of success in the heavily rural district. The development of a biomass industry would not only provide alternative heat and electricity, "it gets all the junk wood out of the woods ... It's like a garden; we need to get all the weeds out so the forest can breathe."
"It's a win-win situation all around," he contined. The owner of a local trucking company, Sczczcepaniak said small business would also benefit from relief from red tape and mandates from Boston.
Suriner, a Middlefield selectman, Episcopal priest and a teacher, agreed with both but added agriculture as an important element in the development of small business in the district. "We've been blessed because we've gotten some of the stimulus money that has prevented job loss ..." she said. "We're in relatively decent shape but the state has much to do in job creation and to deal with the unemployment issue."
Noreen P. Suriner
Farmers should have direct access to the market as well as have easier access to the school lunch programs, she said, adding that Guyer's recent announcment of a "production kitchen" for agricultural concerns in a planned mixed-use development "might be an incubator for the creation of new jobs."
All three strongly supported broadband expansion in Western Mass. "It's a job creator ... not only to the installation but for the telecommunicating for people who want to raise their children here," said Suriner, who represents her town on the WiredWest broadband collaborative. She took a swipe at Verizon, saying its mandate was "to create a profit."
Mark, an attorney and former Verizon technician, was also harsh on the telecommunications giant, referring to his own town's woes. "I'm the only one who knows the difference between the 'last mile,' the 'middle mile' and any other mile."
Sczczepaniak said he would "support any and all" broadband initiatives.
All three also agreed that more consolidation wouldn't serve the district's school systems and that education funding would be a priority. The forum was generally lively but low-key, until the closing statements, when Mark took issue with Suriner's claim that she would focus all her attention on the district and not be distracted running a business like her opponents. "I don't know where that's coming from," said Mark, who added he would quit his job.
Paul W. Mark
The candidates tiptoed around recent revelations about Szczepaniak's past troubles with the law, including jail time for drunken driving, some 20 years ago. Mark's campaign has denied allegations of spreading the old news.
"The things we've been reading about the last week is a distraction," said Mark. "It's the reason why people don't like politics."
Suriner said many families are affected by substance abuse. "I think we want to focus on the issues and not on personal lives."
For his part, Szczepaniak said he's not the man he was back then. "You look at the person and what's he's done and what is he doing for the community," he said, to loud applause.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will face off against the Republican primary winner and independent Stefan G. Racz, a Buckland selectman.
The debates were televised by Pittsfield Community Television; check the schedule for repeat showings.
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Debates Slated for Sheriff, 2nd Berkshire Candidates
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College, in collaboration with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, will host the following debates Monday evening, Aug. 30, in K-111 on BCC's main campus. Seating is first-come, first-served and voters are invited to attend one or all three debates
The first event will begin at 6 p.m. with a debate between Democratic candidates Paul W. Mark, Noreen P. Suriner and Thomas S. Szczepaniak, who are vying for the nomination for representative for the 2nd Berkshire District.
Michael F. Case and Rosanne M. Frieri, the Republican candidates for the 2nd Berkshire District, will begin their debate at 7.
Jenn Smith, reporter for The Berkshire Eagle, will moderate both debates.
Daniel E. Bosley and Thomas N. Bowler, who are running to replace retiring Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, will debate at 8 p.m. Clarence Fanto, freelance newspaper and radio journalist, will moderate this debate.
The debates will be telecast live on CityLink, the government channel of PCTV, and through streaming at www.pittsfieldtv.org. The event will also be rebroadcast on PCTV several times prior to the Sept. 14 primary elections.
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Mark Endorsed by Mass NOW
DALTON, Mass. — Paul Mark, Democratic candidate for state representative in the Second Berkshire district, has received the endorsement of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Mass. NOW, founded in 1966, is the only multi-issue feminist organization in the state, which advocates for the rights of women and girls in Massachusetts. Their legislative priorities include ending violence against women, moving women out of poverty, reproductive freedom, civil rights for all people, and support for an adequate supply of affordable housing.
“The Mass NOW PAC is thrilled to endorse Paul Mark for State Representative,” said Christina Knowles, State Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. “As an advocate for labor and civil rights, Paul has shown his commitment to the issues that Mass NOW cares about and works on. Paul has the leadership and experience needed to be an effective legislator, and we look forward to electing him to the State House.”
“A NOW endorsement signals that I’m the most ardent defender of issues of concern for women,” said Mark upon receiving the NOW endorsement. “Ensuring parity in pay, supporting reproductive health and freedom, and combating human trafficking— these are all real concerns in women’s
lives which I will immediately tackle in the legislature.”
Mass. NOW is a member group in the progressive coalition MassAlliance, which has also endorsed Mark and trained his campaign staff. Other supporting MassAlliance groups include the Mass Teachers Association, the UAW and the Service Employees International Union locals 509 and 1199, which represent human service providers, health care workers, and college staff.
In all, Mark has received endorsements from 23 diverse political and trade groups including nurses, police officers, ambulance workers, truck drivers and a variety of building trades. He has earned more political endorsements than all his opponents combined. A full list of Mark’s endorsements is at www.votepaulmark.com.
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