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Democrats Talks Job Creation For 2nd District
By: Tammy Daniels On: 01:06AM / Tuesday August 31, 2010

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.



Write a comment - 46 Comments       Tags: Suriner, Mark, Szczepaniak      
Bissaillon: Regionalization Deserves Close Look
By: Bissaillon Campaign On: 10:32AM / Friday August 27, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — Dave Bissaillon, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, believes that regionalization can save money and improve the quality and effectiveness of services.

In a statement released Friday, the candidate said that if elected, he would advance any such efforts that district communities pursue.

"I experienced firsthand the benefits of combining efforts when I served as Berkshire Chamber of Commerce CEO," Bissaillon said. "I led the merger of
smaller chambers of commerce and launched the Berkshire Blueprint initiative to develop a strategic plan to advance the regional economy."

For municipalities, regionalization's benefits include cost savings, greater access to basic and specialty services, and helping cities and towns more easily meet mandated responsibilities, he said.

Bissaillon noted that 1st Berkshire District communities have a history of working together to both serve the public good and steward limited municipal dollars. For example, North Adams and Williamstown's Hoosac Water Quality District have processed both communities' wastewater since 1977. The Franklin Regional Council on Governments offer a variety of services, including a cooperative purchasing program that can save towns money by volume discount buying.

"Regionalization offers a strategy for municipalities trying to maintain public services in an era when local revenues are threatened if not reduced," Bissaillon said.

"We just witnessed a small, but important example of how regionalization can help. North Adams, Adams and Williamstown recently hired a single Veteran's Agent to assist residents of all three municipalities," Bissaillon said. "This joint effort will ensure consistency in the delivery of services and meet an important need they all share."

The candidate strongly recommends that municipal officials read the report produced by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray's Regional Advisory Commission (RAC). The report chronicles the history of regionalization in the state, cites the pros and cons of this type of collaboration, illustrates recent successful examples, and amasses a range of technical information on the subject. The report is available here.

"I encourage leaders in the 11 First Berkshire communities to investigate areas in which regionalization could work to their benefit," Bissaillon said. "I recognize there can be concerns about giving up some independence, especially when jobs and longstanding ways of doing things are on the table. But greater good can result."

Bissaillon said the data presented in the regionalization study prompts questions such as:

Does our school administration model best serve our children and our budgets?

Do we have in place the most efficient system for caring for and transporting the elderly in our communities?

Is municipal finance handled most adequately town by town?

Could we do a better job with regional energy and green strategy plans?

What might be the most efficient ways to handle housing authorities in a region?

Do our local libraries take advantage of regional opportunities?

Are public health issues better addressed in a regional manner?

Bissaillon said local leaders might also consider attending the second annual regionalization toolkit conference, "A Practical Guide to Sharing Municipal Services," on Thursday, Sept. 2. Information is at www.mapc.org



Write a comment - 2 Comments       Tags: Bissaillon, regionalization      
Bosley Calls for End of 'Pay to Play'
By: Bosley Campaign On: 10:17AM / Friday August 27, 2010

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Daniel E. Bosley, candidate for Berkshire County sheriff is refusing to accept campaign donations from employees at the Berkshire County House of Corrections (BCHOC) and asked his opponent to take a similar pledge and return any such donations.

“For too long, I have witnessed people donating to a candidate because they are afraid they will lose their job if they don’t write a check. People should be hired and promoted based on their ability, performance and experience; not on the size of their political contribution. The next sheriff will have to make a lot of decisions regarding personnel upon entering office. There should be no question that these decisions are made on merit, not campaign checks,“ the candidate said in a statement.

Bosley stressed that it is important for the public and employees to have confidence that the system works based on merit.

“This issue came up in a debate last week at MCLA. My opponent said that personnel issues shouldn’t be made based on contributions. If that is true, then neither of us should be accepting contributions from potential employees. I have never taken a contribution from one of my employees. It’s just not a good  practice, policy,  and doesn’t inspire public confidence," he said.



Write a comment - 5 Comments       Tags: Bosley, campaign contributions      
MacDonald: I'll Fight For Education Funding
By: MacDonald Campaign On: 01:33PM / Wednesday August 25, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative for the 1st Berkshire District, sees education as one of the most important issues that we will have to address in the future.

"In today's world, we are so completely consumed by the word 'integration,' especially when dealing with the ever-increasing amount of technology in our daily lives. Whether it is cell phones entering all of our pockets, with laptops becoming more commonplace, and wireless Internet providing connectivity for our machines, we are truly becoming more integrated with technology," said MacDonald. "However, this dehumanization of the process by using such an unfeeling word as 'integration' is the first major hurdle we as a people have to acknowledge. Thus, instead of focusing on integration, our focus should be on the process of interweaving science and technology into our daily lives.

"This interweaving process needs to form a continuous fabric that we can further expand upon. Thus, something needs to change in our educational system as the times are changing. Our district and even more importantly, our nation needs to be a leader in this interweaving of technology in order to establish and maintain a true advantage with the rest of the world. As such, a progressive plan has to be established on how to make our district one of the leading powerhouses of the state, the nation, and eventually the world."

The candidate said the Berkshires' prime location allows us to capitalize on talent from all of the very best colleges ranging from one of our closest, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, to a bit further but definitive leader in science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So far, he said, we have not truly been capitalizing on some of the best and brightest minds of our age. Something needs to change and with change comes great opportunity.
 
"Our children's educations and their very future will depend on the decisions we make with science and technology," MacDonald continued. "Just as promotion of an interweaving of science and technology is one of the first steps, we have to start from the ground and work our way up.

"The entire puzzle is only complete when we acknowledge that we have a range of students that pass through our education system. With the proper care and attention, we can lead the charge for many generations to come with unparalleled education for our children.

"As your next state representative, I will fight for every dollar that goes into the school system. I will look at changing funding for charter schools versus public schools. Currently, there is no equity in funding public education. Education will be one of my priorities in the State House. We need to remain competitive with the rest of the world and the way to do that is to provide quality education for all."



Write a comment - 0 Comments       Tags: MacDonald      
Cariddi Endorsed by League of Environmental Voters
By: Cariddi Campaign On: 11:49AM / Wednesday August 25, 2010

BOSTON — The Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters (MLEV), a non-partisan political group that advocates for the environment, has endorsed Gail Cariddi for 1st Berkshire District state representative, citing her strong commitment to environmental issues that affect both the commonwealth and her district.

"MLEV is pleased to announce our endorsement of Gail Cariddi,” said MLEV Executive Director Lora Wondolowski. “With her strong history of local leadership and commitment to the environment, Gail will be a great legislator for her district."

In her MLEV questionnaire, Cariddi prioritized the need to preserve public space, increase recycling rates by passing an expanded bottle bill, and to lead efforts to conserve energy. According to MLEV, as a long-time environmental advocate, Cariddi has the experience to make real change in the legislature.

For information on all MLEV’s 2010 endorsed candidates, go to www. mlev.org.



Write a comment - 3 Comments       Tags: Cariddi, MLEV, environment      
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