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Pittsfield School Chairman Out of the Running
Staff Reports On: 07:29PM / Monday July 22, 2013

PITTSFIELD, Mass. —- The chairman of the School Committee won't be running for office this year. Instead, Alfred E. Barbalunga is encouraging others to take out papers.

Barbalunga, elected to his first two-year term in 2009 and again in 2011, stated his decision not to run for a third term in a letter to the public on Monday. He said he will complete his term, which ends in January 2014, and that the running of two committee officers, Vice Chairman Daniel Elias and Secretary Kathy Yon, should offer a "smooth transition."

He did not rule out the possibility of running for elected office in the future.

His full statement follows:

After careful consideration, I have decided not to run for re-election for the City of Pittsfield School Committee.

It has been my honor to serve as Chair and a privilege to work hand-in-hand with all of the valued Pittsfield school district employees. I feel confident there will be a smooth transition with the leadership team of Vice Chair Dan Elias and Secretary Kathy Yon, both who are running for re-election.

During the past year, I have had the unique experience of co-managing the Pittsfield school district with three different superintendents. Among many accomplishments, we were able to sign 100 percent of the union bargaining contracts, and present annual budgets which will allow this school system to move forward.

I am personally encouraging others to take out papers. I feel it is vital to have people from various walks of life who can bring different perspectives and fresh ideas to the School Committee. There are still more than two weeks until the first submission deadline.

I enjoyed working with the Charter Review Study Committee and the Chair, Judge Lapointe, and am hopeful there will be future compensation for School Committee members.  I believe if these are paid positions, we will see a much larger candidate pool.

My final meeting as the School Committee Chair will be on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013.  However, I have already assured Dr. McCandless I fully intend to complete my term, and I will be available to assist until January 8th, 2014.
 
I have contributed 18 years of combined service to the City of Pittsfield, and I feel very grateful to be a member of this vibrant community. There are many ways to make a contribution in my community and I intend on remaining active in public service, and would consider seeking public office again in the future.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my wife, Jonalee, my father Alfred, and my great friend Kevin J. Sherman, for all of the support and feedback they have given me along the way.



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Alcombright Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign
By Tammy Daniels On: 10:35PM / Thursday June 27, 2013
Mayor Richard Alcombright makes a point at his campaign kickoff.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright kicked off the city's campaign season on Thursday night with a downtown rally.

More than a 100 supporters attended Alcombright's announcement for a third run at the corner office, held at the newly named MediTerra on Main Street. In between kebabs and cigar boreks, the mayor told the crowd he had three simple reasons for running again: his love of the city, working with people and solving problems, and the progress he has seen.

(Alcombright spoke with iBerkshires about some of the challenges he sees in a third term earlier this month.)

"I truly love this city, I love what was, what it has become and the thought of what it can become," he said. "I think we truly are making progress. I would not do this again if I didn't think we were moving in the right direction."

Alcombright pointed to Crane & Co., which had planned to leave the city with 120 jobs when he first entered office three years ago. After many discussions and a negotiated tax break, North Adams is now the headquarters for Crane's Fine Stationery Division and is expected to employ 280 people by September.

"Maybe the first time that this old mill town in decades has seen two shifts running," said the mayor to applause.

"I work very quietly ... I want folks to know and understand that being mayor is about one thing ... leadership," said Alcombright. "I quietly provide that leadership each and every day. I don't look for headlines, quite honestly I try to avoid them, I look for results and when I get them, I pat those folks on the back who make it happen."

He checked of a list accomplishments that included keeping Juvenile Court and state services in the city, the Conte School project, the Walmart Supercenter and its nearly 200 jobs, plans for a 4 megawatt solar array, development of tourist trains, collaborations with surrounding communities, pushing for the resurfacing of the West End bridges ahead of schedule, savings in city services and health insurance costs, a new master plan, ongoing talks for the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, and keeping budgets at less than 2 percent over the last three cycles.

"But there is a darkness in this city brought on by a few who I truly believe do not want the city to succeed," said Alcombright. "However, despite destructive efforts, we have a clear mission within my administration and that is simply to make things happen through vision and collaboration."

More effort is still needed in working with efficiencies and state and local officials, he said, and the recent rash of violence has to be addressed.

He vowed to "put the hurt" on those selling drugs in the city. And after the stabbing incident outside a city bar two weeks ago, he determined "the day of the incident that that bar would be closed ... It remains closed as we speak."

Alcombright was introduced by Richard Taskin.

"Our crime issues for the large part are drug and alcohol related and we need a way to figure out how to fix that," said Alcombright, adding that he would be meeting with the Police Director Michael Cozzaglio and the media on Friday.

Much of the mayor's comments were met with applause. Eight of the nine city councilors stopped in — President Michael Bloom, Alan Marden, Marie Harpin, Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, David Bond, Nancy Bullett and Jennifer Breen — as well Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy and North Adams Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney.  

He was also endorsed by 2005 mayoral candidate Walter L. Smith Jr., who said Alcombright had accomplished 90 percent of the goals he'd laid out four years ago.

The simplest sign that he was turning the city around was the installation of the benches on Main Street, said Smith. "This is not the old North Adams anymore, this is the new North Adams."

Local attorney Richard Taskin, who produces a program with Alcombright on NBCTV, introduced the mayor as "a man of faith and a person with faith in people" who was big enough to admit his mistakes and "willing to do what is right even if it is not popular."

Perhaps the most unpopular was his decision to pursue a Proposition 2 1/2 override two years ago. "I'm still in therapy," Alcombright joked, but he was convinced it was the right thing to do to square the city's continued fiscal woes. Despite its defeat, he said it "proved I can handle myself in a tough situation."

"Have you liked everything I've done?" he said. "I don't think so but that's OK. Hell, even my mother tells me all the things I do wrong."

Alcombright said he had delivered on his vows for openness, honesty, accessibility and transparency and asked voters to continue to trust him.

"We only have to agree on two things here tonight: We love this city and we want to see it grow," he said. "If we have those two things in common, we can work together."




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Ericson Wins Lanesborough Selectman Race
By Andy McKeever On: 05:33PM / Wednesday June 26, 2013

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Robert Ericson soared to victory in Tuesday's election for the Board of Selectmen.

Ericson reeled in 381 votes compared to former Selectman Joseph Szczpaniak Jr.'s 183 for the seat last held by William Prendergast, who opted not to run for re-election.

However, Szczpaniak may have another chance to seek a seat on the board. Selectman Robert Barton won a seat on the School Committee over Renee Poplaski. Barton won 282 votes to Poplaski's 244. Barton plans to resign from the Board of Selectmen.

In a three-way race for two seats on the Finance Committee, incumbent Al Terranova and newcomer Ronald Tinkham were elected over Stephen Wentworth. Terranova received 284 votes, Tinkham 267 and Wentworth 221. For a one-year seat, incumbent Christine Galib was unopposed and garnered 452 votes.

Incumbent Mary Reilly easily secured her seat with 446 votes to challenger Gregory Wolf's 68 for cemetery trustee. There were also three unopposed races — Christa Sidway for library trustee and Robert Reilly for both moderator and Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational School Committee.

In the statewide race for the U.S. Senate, Lanesborough voters picked Edward Markey over Gabriel Gomez by a margin of 404 to 189. One voter cast his or her vote for Richard Heos of the Twelve Visions Party.



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Markey Takes Special Senate Election, Berkshires
Staff Reports On: 09:06PM / Tuesday June 25, 2013
Republican Gabriel Gomez, left, took an early lead but longtime Democratic Congressman Edward Markey was declared the winner just over an hour after the polls closed.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is moving on — from one side of the Capitol to the other.

The veteran Malden congressman was holding a 7-point lead at about 9:15 p.m. when the special election for U.S. Senate was called in his favor on Tuesday.

Early returns were showing Republican Gabriel Gomez leading Markey by large margins in smaller communities in central Mass and on the outskirts of Boston.

But by 9, Markey was gliding past his Republican opponent. He took the state's largest communities, including Boston and its immediate environs, and appeared to have a lock on the Berkshires with only Savoy left to report in.

Expectations were low for turnout throughout the state. Polls closed at 8 p.m. but the Boston Globe noted that by 6, the number of voters who had cast ballots was just over half that compared to 2010's special Senate election that catapulted then state Sen. Scott Brown into Congress. Chicopee, however, was reporting a higher than expected number of voters.

There were concerns that voters were fatigued by three Senate elections in as many years, the last one a hard-fought campaign between Republican Brown and Democratic victor Elizabeth Warren.

The Berkshires was appearing to remain true blue according to unofficial returns. In North Adams, Markey easily outpaced Gomez 1115 to 413 and, in Lenox, 964 to 294. Williamstown also, and not surprisingly, went blue with the Malden Democrat taking 1,295 votes to the Cohasset Republican's 282, making it one of Gomez's worst and Markey's best towns, according to Boston.com. Great Barrington also backed Markey 1,178 to 265.

Otis, which went for Brown in the last special election, was closer but Markey maintained his Berkshires blowout 157 to 121.

North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau had been pessimistic early on in the day, expecting perhaps a 10 percent turnout at most. There were no signs or supporters outside the main polling station at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center.

"You wouldn't know there was an election except for the [traffic] cones in the road," said Gomeau, referring to the cones warning drivers to slow for people - very few of them - to cross the street from the parking lot. At least, she said, the weather had mostly cooperated.

"If you going to have to do it, this is the kind of day to hold it on," she said.

Markey and Gomez were running to replace John Kerry, who resigned to become U.S. secretary of state. The third candidate on the ballot, Richard A. Heos, garnered a handful of votes.

For a complete breakdown, see the Boston.com's election results page.



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Markey, Democratic Leaders Rally For U.S. Senate Race
By: Andy McKeever On: 10:40PM / Friday June 21, 2013
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey rallied voters in Pittsfield on Friday with local and state Democratic leaders including his House colleague, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite leading in the polls before the special election for the U.S. Senate, Democratic candidate Edward Markey isn't coasting the final four days because "overconfidence breeds complacency and complacency breeds disaster."

He is on a tight schedule through Tuesday that took him Friday to the Berkshire Brigades' offices, where he was joined by Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and a large group of Democratic leaders and elected officials.

"I don't feel confident. You can't feel that way. It's like asking the Bruins 'are you going to win the Stanley Cup?' they don't know," Markey said before entering a full room of supporters. "You have to keep at a high level of intensity just so you maximize the result on election night. Then you can celebrate. Then you can relax."

The congressman from Malden is running for the seat vacated by John Kerry, who accepted appointment as U.S. secretary of state. Being a special election and held on an atypical election schedule, voter turnout is expected to be the biggest concern for Democrats.

"For the final four days it is all about getting out the vote," Markey said. "I want to win out here. I am trying to get up the enthusiasm, get the troops out there and make sure that people get out and vote Tuesday."

Auditor Suzanne Bump of Great Barrington said Democrats are not competing with the Republicans but rather "apathy."

She said the decision of who to vote for is easy because Markey has "already demonstrated his values." But Democrats need to "take it to the streets" in order to win the election, she said.

"This is not a leap of faith when we cast this vote. This is a vote of confidence," Bump said. Republican competitor Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset has been positioning himself as a fresh face and has criticized Markey for being a career politician. Markey was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1974.

But all of the speakers rallied behind representative's 38-year record in expanding broadband access, support for social programs and protecting the environment.

"New isn't always better. Being better is better," Patrick said. "Being right on the issues is better. Seeing us all, not just the mighty but the meek is better. Voting right on the issues, that's better. Caring about lifting the commonweath and the country up, that's better. Putting national interest before party or partisan interest, that's better."

Patrick received roaring applause from the crowd of about 150 people sporting in Markey campaign stickers. He said Markey knows what it takes to give the opportunity for the American dream.

"The American dream requires personal responsibility, grit, determination and resilience — all the things we often hear our conservative friends talk about — self-reliance. They're right," Patrick said. "But the American dream also requires a good education. It also requires affordable health care and a safe neighborhood.

"It also requires a clean environment and true and equal opportunity. All of those things make the American dream possible and we fight for good government because good government makes those things possible."

Gov. Deval Patrick said Markey voted the right way on the issues.

Markey said building the American dream means to look to the future, as he has done in the past when he has "sided with companies that did not exist yet." He is supportive of furthering technology and making Massachusetts the "biotech capital of the world."

"This race is about the future and we have to make sure we protect and advance it," Markey said.

Neal, who has worked with Markey the longest and would be come the dean of the congressional delegation if Markey wins, said his colleague has always been looking toward the future.

"Those of us who are his peers, know how good he is," Neal said. "He is kind, he is decent and he is a great legislator."

Also speaking were state Reps. Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and Mayor Daniel Bianchi. The office was filled with elected officials — including North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, District Attorney David Capeless, City Council President Kevin Sherman and Register of Deeds Patsy Harris — and local Democratic leaders.

"We need to be with Ed Markey because time after time, Ed Markey has been with us," Patrick said.

The special Senate election is Tuesday, June 25, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Also on the ballot is Twelve Visions Party canddiate Richard A. Heos.



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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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