2nd District Still Waiting Results
Update: According to reports from MassLive.com, Paul Mark has won the 2nd Berkshire District Democratic primary with 2,762 votes (44 percent) and 21 of 23 precincts reporting. Coming in second was Thomas Szczepaniak with 2,310 votes (37 percent) and Noreen Suriner with 1,229 votes (37 percent).
The race to chose a new representative from the 2nd Berkshire District appears to be going down to the wire, with Democrats Tom Szczepaniak of Dalton and Paul Mark of Hancock running neck and neck.
An update from PCTV at 11 p.m. had Mark in the lead by 6 percent of the vote.
The campaigns were still awaiting official results from the sprawling district, which includes parts of 22 towns spread across three counties.
On the Republican side, Michael Case of Washington appears to be the choice to represent his party in the Nov. 2 general election, which will also include independent Stefan Racz of Buckland, who unsuccessfully ran against Guyer in 2006.
On the Democratic side, Szczepaniak, a Dalton selectman since 2001 and owner of Variety Trucking and Demolition in Pittsfield, said he was confident he would pull through against two other Democrats. In his hometown, he won 788 votes to 413 for Paul Mark of Hancock, and 228 for Noreen Suriner of Middlefield.
At about 10:30 p.m., he said he was confident of a strong performance in Berkshire County, but unsure about other towns that still hadn't reported.
"It's been a long, vigorous campaign," he said from Shamrock Restaurant and Pub in Dalton, where he was awaiting the results with supporters. "Meeting the people has been a blessing. It's a new world for me and I'm excited about it."
For the Republicans, Michael Case, a veteran and longtime Pittsfield police officer, said he had put up a clear lead against Rosanne Frieri of Pittsfield.
"I'm glued to the TV," he said from Jacob's Restaurant in Dalton, where he was gathering with supporters. "I've got a feeling I'm going to win."
The district is geographically the largest in the state and includes the Berkshire towns of Cheshire, Dalton, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, New Ashford, Peru, Richmond, Becket, Washington, Windsor, and a part of Pittsfield. It also includes the Franklin County towns of Colrain, Bernardston, Ashfield, Buckland, Leyden, Northfield, and Shelburne, and the Hampshire County towns of Cummington, Middlefield, and Plainfield.
The winner of the race will replace Denis Guyer of Dalton, who was first elected to the seat in 2004, winning that election with 70 percent of the vote. He replaced Republican Shaun Kelly of Dalton, who had represented the district since 1990.
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Szczepaniak Receives Valenti Endorsement
DALTON, Mass. — Dan Valenti, a local columnist and commentator, recently endorsed Tom Szczepaniak for state representative from the 2nd Berkshire District in "Planet Valenti," a column he writes for The Pittsfield Gazette.
In his column, Valenti writes:
| If this election is about Szczepaniak's past, he wins. He withstood the anonymous attacks against his wayward youth with honesty and dignity. If anything, his checkered past signals character and integrity. You don't come back from the bottom unless those words mean more to you than bumper-sticker slogans. The indications point to the Mark campaign for sending the media the anonymous stink bombs on his opponent's legal past. Mark denies the charge. Nonetheless, they came from someone.
Mark resembles Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick. Beyond attacking Szczepaniak, Mark has offered voters little except to fetch water for the large public employee unions. Suriner, a Middlefield selectwoman and retired Episcopal priest, is not ready to move out of the lower minors of backwater local politics. Suriner, who would be eaten up in Boston, may use her loss as meditation fodder for evening vespers. The Planet endorses Szczepaniak.
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Franklin County Sheriff Backs Szczepaniak for 2nd Berkshire Seat
DALTON, Mass. — Franklin County Sheriff Frederick B. Macdonald endorsed Tom Szczepaniak on Tuesday for the 2nd Berkshire District state representative seat being vacated by Rep. Denis E. Guyer.
Szczepaniak is running for the Democratic nomination in the representative race.
"Having met Tom numerous times along the campaign trail, I am impressed with his deep level of local government experience and how he has turned his life around," Macdonald said of the Dalton selectman.
Macdonald said that while Szczepaniak has acknowledged problems of alcohol abuse during his youth, his commitment to helping inmates at the Berkshire County House of Correction deal with recovery issues speaks to his compassionate and caring nature.
"Tom is a living model of how people can rehabilitate themselves after tough and trying times and become productive and contributing members of society. His ability to build a thriving small business and to top the ticket on Dalton's municipal ballots for selectman speak to the kind of drive and determination Tom has, qualities which will serve him well on Beacon Hill," Macdonald said.
"Tom's contributions to the mentoring program at BCHC and his willingness to hire ex-offenders and residents of Pittsfield’s homeless shelter for his business help reduce the rate of recidivism and ease the burden and costs on our law enforcement system."
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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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