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Sheriff Candidates Press Issues at Debate
By: By Tammy Daniels On: 02:45AM / Tuesday August 17, 2010

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The two candidates hoping to rope the job of Berkshire County sheriff came out swinging on Monday night in their second debate. The 90-minute face-off at Conte Community School drew cheers and a few jeers from the crowd of more than 100 as the two Democrats tried to convince voters what a sheriff should be made of.

Thomas N. Bowler and Daniel E. Bosley last met in June in the first of four scheduled forums before the Sept. 14 primary. The candidates covered familiar ground on Monday night, hitting hard on the themes they've developed over the past few months. But it's been clear from the start that voters will be deciding what kind of sheriff they want — a public safety official or a law enforcement official.

"After 32 years, with the same sheriff, a lot of people aren't clear what the sheriff does," said Bosley, a 24-year state representative, describing that role as "the crux of the issue." "This is a human services job ... it's not a law enforcement job."

It was muggy in the Conte Community School gym and those on stage quickly doffed their jackets; it got more heated as the evening wore on.

Bowler, a Pittsfield detective with more than 20 years in law enforcement, disagreed strongly. 

"If you were on a school committee, and you were going to hire a new superintendent for your schools, would you hire somebody who did not have a background in education?" he asked. "If you had a hospital administrator you were looking to hire, would hire somebody that does not have any health care experience — absolutely not."

The debate was sponsored by the Morningside and West Side neighborhood initiatives and moderated by Berkshire Eagle Executive Editor Tim Farkas, who noted the importance of electing the "first new Berkshire County sheriff since 1978." The candidates each were allowed opening and closing statements. Bosley took the first question by coin toss; the second candidate then was given a chance for response before it went back to the first candidate for rebuttal.

The two men did agree on a few things, including support for the revival of inmates growing produce for themselves and continuing to provide academic and trade skills education, working closely with local human service organizations and law enforcement agencies and alternative sentencing for juveniles, depending on their crimes.

In relation to the Morningside neighborhood, both said they would not consider selling off the property near Morningside School because of its current use for teaching trades and potential for further programs.

But they disagree heartily on three main issues — the role of sheriff, the need for a regional lockup and the expansion of programs beyond the House of Correction.

Bosley has called for a regional lockup similar that of Hampshire County. Located in the House of Correction, it would free up local police from transporting and guarding suspects and bring in much-needed revenue to the jail, he said. He estimated the cost for Pittsfield at about $35,000 a year that would translate into more police on the street.

"It makes fiscal sense for the town, it makes fiscal sense for the jail," said Bosley.

Bowler called the idea "completely irresponsible" and a waste of money at a time with the sheriff's budget is already pinched. "From my expereince, my 24 years, I can't remember at any point in time when all the 32 towns and cities had to lock up anyone at the same time."

But the sheriff has to come up with innovative ways to bring in revenue streams to expand programs, said Bosley, who called for the sheriff's department to take on a greater role integrating former inmates into the community after they were released.

"I think we need to be better coordinated to create a 'continuum of services' that would save money and help people to not re-offend," he said. Bosley frequently pointed to Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, which he helped found, as a model for working at the neighborhood level. "We need to follow them out into the community."

Bowler, who spent more than a year working in the House of Correction as a supervisor, said it was important for the department to work with community organizations, and be involved with the schools and Boys' and Girls' Clubs to forge bonds with youth. But there were already good programs in the House of Correction and no need to expand them; rather, the effort should be made through community outreach programs.

"There are adequate programs in education and trades," he said. "I'd talk to inmates and get their input into how we can make it better."

In response to question on the budget, the detective said he'd call for an audit and an assessment by the department's finance staff before making any decisions. The representative quickly responded, "I'm not going to rely on somebody else I'm going to look at the budget myself."

The debate got heated toward the end, with some boos from the back following Bosley's statement that Bowler "is very good at what he does and I think he should stay there." He later chastised the Bowler supporters for catcalls: "This is the way you've conducted this campaign." (The June forum also turned testy when a Bowler supporter tried to debate Bosley.)

Bowler retorted that "This is a true professional versus a politician." Bosley countered, "I prefer to think of myself as an elected official."

The candidates will meet again tonight, Tuesday, at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center. A final debate is planned for early September on WUPE/WNAW.

 



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MacDonald Proposes Changes to Seniors' Tax Exemptions
By: MacDonald Campaign On: 03:38PM / Monday August 16, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — With increasing costs in everything from health care to real estate taxes, Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, has proposed increasing the dollar amount granted for qualifying senior citizens' exemptions and adjusting the monetary guidelines they must meet.

Currently, each city and town adopts an elderly exemption for property owners. There are key criteria that need to be met before an exemption is granted.  In many communities, these requirements have not changed in years. The basic requirements are that an individual must own and occupy the property on July 1 of the tax year, must live in Massachusetts for the past 10 years, and own and occupy their residence for five years.

In addition to residency requirements, there are income and asset amounts that need to be met.  Depending on which clause the city or town voted to accept, the income can range from $6,000 to $15,000.  Assets can range from $7,000 to $30,000. These amounts are incredibly low, MacDonald said, and need to be adjusted to meet today’s cost of living standards. Once the income and asset guidelines are increased, MacDonald proposes that the exemption amount be raised from $500 to $1,000 in every community. Currently, each city and town has the authority to pass Clause 41, 41B, or 41C.  Each clause has its own set of guidelines.

“I will propose a review of the exemptions that are available to senior citizens.  I will recommend that income and asset guidelines increase as well as the exemption amount. Several years ago, the veterans’ exemptions increased but not the elderly exemptions.  It’s time we bring the standards up and assist those who want to stay in their own homes,”  MacDonald said.

For more information on tax exemptions for seniors, click here.

 

 



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Sheriff, 1st Berkshire Debates This Week
By: Staff Reports On: 10:45AM / Monday August 16, 2010

Voters in Pittsfield and North County will have several chances to hear from candidates for sheriff and representative over the next few days.

Both races will essentially be decided in the September primary just a month away because all the candidates for the two offices are Democrats.

The debates begin tonight, Monday, at Conte Community School in Pittsfield as Thomas N. Bowler and Daniel E. Bosley face off for a second time in their pursuit to become Berkshire County sheriff. The candidates met in June in a forum hosted by the Williamstown Democratic Committee at Town Hall.

Monday's debate is being hosted by the West Side and Morningside neighborhood initiatives in collaboration with The Berkshire Eagle and broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television. The debate runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Bosley, currently the state representative for the 1st Berkshire District, and Bowler, a 20-year detective with the Pittsfield Police Department, will be questioned about countywide issues as well as those of interest to residents of the city's West Side and Morningside neighborhoods. They will also be posed questions selected from the audience.

(The sheriff candidates will meet once more in early September for a "Last Word" debate on WNAW/WUPE in which iBerkshires will be participating.)

On Tuesday, the sheriff's candidates will meet again at the Church Street Center at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. They will be joined by the three candidates for the 1st Berkshire District seat being vacated by Bosley.

The representative candidates are Gailanne Cariddi, a local businesswoman and North Adams city councilor; David Bissaillon, vice president of a local insurance agency and former president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce; and Edward MacDonald, town administrator for Chester and a former Adams selectman. This is also the second time the representatives will meet, having participated in a forum in Florida in June.

The event is being hosted by the Williamstown League of Women Voters and its president, Anne Skinner, will moderate. The event begins at 7 p.m. and is expected to last two hours. The audience will be allowed to ask questions.

The representative candidates will also speak to the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning beginning at 7:45 at the Williams Inn in Williamstown. The candidates have been invited to address issues relevant to the local business community.

The cost for nonmembers to attend the Good News Business Salute breakfast is $35; members' price is $25. Those planning to attend should contact the chamber at 413-499-4000, Ext.  26, at choyt@berkshirechamber.com, or at www.berkshirechamber.com



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Cariddi Calls for Boost to Creative Economy
By: Cariddi Campaign On: 12:42PM / Thursday August 12, 2010

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — During the last decade, the creative economy has become a critical sector of Northern Berkshire County and western Franklin County. Today, the creative sector accounts for more than 6,000 jobs in the region and has proved to be a major driver in the revitalization of older cities and towns.

The reinvigoration of cities such as North Adams has facilitated new neighborhood investments and generated new employment opportunities. In 1993, 20 percent of North Adams' downtown storefronts were occupied while today nearly 80 percent are being utilized.

As Berkshire County continues to lose population, a significant challenge is to lure young artists, entrepreneurs and "hidden tech" startup enterprises to the area. Gail Cariddi, candidate for the 1st Berkshire District in the Sept. 14 primary, said Massachusetts is falling behind other states such as Rhode Island in offering housing and other relocation incentives to those in this sector of the work force who seek affordable and supportive places in which to live and work. She points out that the 1st Berkshire District contains many former mills and vacant or underutilized buildings which can be converted for artistic, cultural and entrepreneurial purposes.

"To help foster the continued growth of the creative economy, I pledge to seek appointment to the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development," said Cariddi. "I also support the creation of a venture capital fund to assist developers with financing for the purchase and rehabilitation of buildings for studio, retail and housing space for the creative and entrepreneurial community."

Cariddi elaborates on her plans for the growth of the region on her website, www.electgailcariddi.com.



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MacDonald Supports Accelerated Learning Programs
By: MacDonald Campaign On: 11:25AM / Thursday August 12, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, has expressed his support for accelerated learning programs.

"In an ever increasingly competitive society, it is imperative that we continually progress and innovate. An effective way of doing this is to offer the very best education for our sons and daughters. This serves as the foundation for a proposed accelerated learning program similar to the one found in Worcester, known as the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science (Mass Academy)," MacDonald said in a statement.

Students may attend Mass Academy's program during their junior year of high school, after taking a a rigorous entry examination. The school focuses on teaching advanced science and mathematics, including physics and calculus. Upon successful completion of their junior year, students may then take courses at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

"This provides these students a distinctive advantage in the marketplace as many will go on to the top technological schools in the country," stated MacDonald.

MacDonald proposes that a program similar for local students could be created by partnering with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, using the new science and technology center it plans to build.

"We could together engineer a program that is very similar to the Mass Academy ideology. McCann Technical High School has already started an engineering program to enable students to have a head start in college and has been successful on many occasions with its students. Both McCann and Mass Academy’s programs not only set precedence for success but give our students a much desired commodity, opportunity," he stated.

"To have the opportunity to take college classes as a high school student when one is intellectually ready enables them to be competitive and to help dominate the market. We need to expand our push for higher education and MCLA’s continual progress for excellence provide an excellent blend of opportunity that can help our students be some of the best contributions to society as a whole."

"As such, I propose that when I am elected as your state representative, that we push for a program similar to Mass Academy that stands as an excellent extension to what McCann is already trying to implement. Our students deserve the best, isn’t it about time that we followed through?"



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.


Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Treasurer
Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Auditor
Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

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.

2010 Special Senate Election Results

Election 2009 Stories

Election Day 2008

 

 

 



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