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Adams Voters to Decide Three Races on 2014 Ballot
Staff Reports On: 09:49AM / Wednesday March 19, 2014

ADAMS, Mass. — The town will see several races on this year's election ballot, including for the one selectman's seat.

Incumbent Michael Ouellette will vie for a third three-year term against newcomer Jeffrey Michael Snoonian of 1 Berkshire Square.

Ouellette, of Tramway Drive, was first elected in 2008 and won a narrow victory to retain his seat in 2011.

There will be a three-way race for treasurer/collector between the town's financial assistants Paula Schrade and Town Meeting Member Kelly F. Rice, and Melissa McGovern-Wandrei, currently the appointed treasurer/collector in Clarksburg.

The incumbent, Holly Denault, is retiring in May; the winner of the election will complete the two years left of Denault's term.

Dennis A. Gajda and George J. Haddad will vie for the one three-year seat on the Board of Assessors being vacated by Lynn D. Avery.

Incumbents Joseph F. Greenbush and David M. Strzepek are running for the two three-year library trustee seats; Jill Pompi, appointed to the trustees in December, is running for the two-year seat.

Jacob N. Schutz, an incumbent, and Scott E. Cernik are running for two three-year Park Comission seats.

Incumbents also running for re-election are Moderator Edward Driscoll, one year; Planning Board member Barbara Ziemba, five years; Housing Authority member, Mark Alan Covert, five years; McCann School Committee member Daniel J. Maloney Jr., three years, and Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee member Regina A. Hill, representing Adams for three years.
 
No candidates submitted nomination papers for a five-year spot on the Redevelopment Authority or a three-year seat on the Cemetery Commission.

The election will be held Monday, May 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the town garage; the deadline to register to vote is April 15 by 8 p.m.



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Lt. Gov. Candidate Kerrigan Building 'Grassroots' Campaign
By Andy McKeever On: 07:16PM / Tuesday March 18, 2014
Kerrigan celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Pittsfield where iBerkshires was able to catch up with him and talk about the campaign.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lieutenant governor candidate Stephen Kerrigan is happy with his campaign's presence at caucuses across the state. But, he says, the hard work is far from over.

Kerrigan was in Pittsfield on Monday to support state Sen. Benjamin Downing, who held a kickoff event for his own campaign. Meanwhile, the Lancaster resident is one of four Democrats seeking nomination from the party for state's second-highest post.

"We did incredibly well in the caucus season. We had 80 percent of the caucuses covered across the state. We got thousands and thousands of signature. I believe we were the best organized campaign," Kerrigan said.

"It gave us an opportunity first and foremost to talk to really loyal, dedicated Democrats as possible. We went to 80 percent of these caucuses. Now it is about reaching back out to those elected delegates, making sure that they understand what we are focused on during this course of this campaign."

Heading into the Democratic State Convention in June, Kerrigan said he is building a "grassroots" campaign while still meeting with large groups to "reach as many people as possible."

"It's the hard work. It's the three yards and a cloud of dust that these type of campaigns are all about," Kerrigan said.

The former aide to U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy has held many "behind the scene" roles in government including being the CEO of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Now he is hoping to step out of the shadows and into a leadership role — starting with lieutenant governor.

"Folk want to make sure that we've got a government that is as affective as possible. Everyone is focused on job creation and the biggest tools for job creation is a well-educated workforce and strong infrastructure transportationwise," Kerrigan said. "You can't get those things if we don't build a strong budget for our state, if we don't start investing in the right things."

Kerrigan has already said his first priority if elected would be to do a "complete review" of the state's assets and budget. He said he would analyze tax incentives for effectiveness. After revamping the state's finances, Kerrigan said he would then start advocating for education and transportation funding.

"People want a government that is worthy of the sacrifice that they make each and every day with their tax dollars. I want to make sure that we run a more efficient and effective government, that we continue to make Massachusetts the best and brightest place in America," he said.

He says while investing in those areas are important and cited the expansion of broadband. He said there are a number of areas where the government can step aside and let economic competitiveness lead the way.

"We want to talk about competitiveness all across Massachusetts," he said.

Kerrigan is running for the Democratic nomination against James Arena-DeRosa, whose campaign was also at Downing's kickoff, Jonathan Edwards and Mike Lake.



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Downing Kicks Off Senate Re-election Campaign
By Andy McKeever On: 09:17PM / Monday March 17, 2014
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing kicked off his re-election campaign Monday night at Spice Dragon with St. Patrick's Day flavor.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — At age 24, Benjamin B. Downing stood on the steps of City Hall with a speech he rehearsed dozens of times to announce his candidacy for the open state Senate seat.

Eight years later, and seeing yet another term come to an end, he looked back on that speech and focused on a Bill Clinton quote he had altered: "It it our job not only to build a bridge to the 21st century but make sure that every one in every corner of the Berkshires and the commonwealth has the opportunity to cross that bridge."

He thought of the $90 million broadband expansion, the new center for science and innovation at MCLA, upgraded downtowns and reforms to government to say the bridge is being built.

But, he also looked at a rising poverty rate and homelessness.

"No. No we can't say that everyone has as good of an opportunity that they should to make use of their God-given talents," Downing said Monday night as he kicked of his campaign to keep the seat he's had for eight years.

Downing kicked off another campaign as he has begun gathering signatures to be on the ballot. Among a room full of municipal, state, business and cultural leaders, Downing said his job on Beacon Hill isn't done.

"I am running for re-election because this community, Pittsfield, the Berkshires, Western Massachusetts has given me everything, every opportunity anyone could ever ask for," he said. "But until every single kid in every corner of the commonwealth from Boston to the Berkshires, from Provincetown to Pittsfield, from North Adams to North Attleboro can say the same thing, then our work is not done."

He boasted of making "government smarter and more efficient" to ensure that the tax dollars are going to programs and "not bureaucracy."

But child poverty has increased from 12 percent to 15 percent — with the Berkshires 20 percent higher — and 135,000 people are dependent on food banks and more than 20,000 people statewide homeless, Downing said.

While still seeing those numbers after eight years in office could make someone "cynical," Downing says he is "more hopeful" than ever. His job takes him to meet volunteers passing out Thanksgiving meals to the needy, teachers inspiring classrooms, community activists fighting for the environment and "decent hard-working people" in all 52 of his Senate district's communities, he said.

"Today, more so than any day since I took to those steps at City Hall, I am more hopeful today than ever before," said the Democratic senator. "I am hopeful because of all of you. Because of the good decent hard-working people that make up the 52 communities."

Downing said government still needs "new energy and new ideas to make decisions with future generations in mind and not future elections in mind." And he believes he can provide that.

"I am running for re-election because if the last two years have taught me anything is that we can take absolutely nothing in this life for granted. We don't know if the sun is going to come up tomorrow. We don't know if we will get to see it. But we do know that if we do everything in our time, everything in our power that whenever that last sunset comes, whenever we see it. .... whether we are 27 or 72, whether we are 107 or 12, we will be able to say we made the most of every opportunity that was given to us," Downing said.

Attorney Don Dubendorf and state Rep. Steve Kulik were among those in attendance.

"If you continue to give me the opportunity in the Senate, I may not be able to say that I am always be right. I won't. I may not be able to say that we will always agree. We won't. But you will be able to say that your state senator worked harder than anyone else, drove farther than anyone else, listened more than anyone else and was more committed to making sure that we ...  we will be able to say we have done everything we could to make sure that everyone can cross that bridge."

Downing is still collecting signatures for the ballot and doesn't know if he'll have a competitor. The senator has run unopposed since 2008. He said he plans on running the campaign as if he does have an opponent.

"Whether there is another candidate or not, it is a great opportunity to get out and talk to people and make sure you are in touch with the municipal leaders and the voters," Downing said after his kickoff speech.
 
Besides poverty, which Downing has placed high on his priority list, he also expects substance abuse and treatment to become hot topic issues.

Besides being an incumbent, Downing also received support on Monday night from many county leaders and elected officials. Those in attendance included Sheriff Thomas Bowler, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, state Rep. Paul Mark, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state Rep. Steve Kulik, District Attorney David Capeless, Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal's representative Dan Johnson, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, City Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, and Register of Probate Court Francis Marinaro among an array of business and cultural leaders.

"He's done a fantastic job. We need to clone him. We need to get this guy tenured. Ben Downing's been a great friend to all of us and he's been a mentor to me," Pignatelli said.



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Williamstown Ballot Spaces Filling for Town Election
By Stephen Dravis On: 03:37PM / Monday March 17, 2014
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With just more than one week left before the deadline for nomination papers, the town is looking at — minimum — a three-way race for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen.
 
With Selectman David Rempell and Chairwoman Jane Allen having announced they will not seek another term in May's annual election, four Williamstown residents have taken out papers, and three have returned them with the required 28 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot.
 
Andrew Hogeland of 2143 Cold Spring Road, Jack Nogueira of 149 Luce Road and Hugh Daley of 106 Southworth St. each have returned their papers to Town Hall, Town Clerk Mary Kennedy said on Monday morning.
 
A fourth man, Gary Fuls of 82 Elm St., has taken out nomination papers but has not yet returned them, she said.
Selectmen serve three-year terms.
 
Interested residents can take out papers and return them with the proper signatures by 5 p.m. on March 25, Kennedy said.
In addition to the Selectmen, there is one other town body with an open seat this spring.
 
On the Planning Board, the five-year seat currently held by Patrick Dunlavey is up for grabs.
 
So far, only one resident, Amy Jeschawitz of 1173 North Hoosac Road, has pulled papers, but she has not returned them, Kennedy said.
 
Four other positions positions will be on the ballot. Three of the current seatholders have taken steps to serve another term.
On the Williamstown Elementary School Committee, John Skavlem has taken out papers to run for another three-year term, as has Housing Authority Board member Joan Burns, who is serving a five-year term that expires in May.
 
On the Milne Public Library Board of Trustees, there are two seats on the ballot. Trustee Kathleen Schultze has returned her papers with the required signatures to run for another three-year term; Trustee David Dewey has not taken out papers as of Monday morning, Kennedy said.
 
The Board of Registrars confirms the signatures on nomination papers before names are placed on the ballot for the May 13 town election, scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the elementary school.


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Candidate Kayyem Talks Development With PEDA
By Andy McKeever On: 03:41AM / Saturday March 15, 2014
PEDA Executive Director Cory Thurston explained to Juliette Kayyem what has happened and what is in the plans for the William Stanley Business Park.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following what she believes was a good response at Democratic caucuses across the state, gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem is ramping up her campaign to show the party that she is the voice of a new generation and the best person to take on the Republican candidate in the general election.

"The true winner in the caucus was the undecided. That is a fabulous opportunity for a candidate like me," Kayyem said on Friday. "The core of my party did not feel ready to commit and that's an opportunity for me and an opportunity to provide and discuss with the Democratic base on where we go from here."

Kayyem carries an underdog mentality into the race for state's highest office, coming in as a virtually unknown.

She doesn't currently hold an office. But, she has a resume that spans from being a civil rights attorney to the assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She was the state's first undersecretary for homeland security and served on the National Commission on Terrorism.

"We need a new generation of leadership, a new approach to how we view politics," she said.

Kayyem is one of five Democrats seeking to replace Deval Patrick, who is not running for re-election. On Friday, she continued a tour of the state' gateway cities to get a better understanding of the challenges each face. Those trips are helping her craft what she'll emphasize in policies if she is elected.

"Here some of the solutions are coming out of this park — that you take a filthy place, that is an eyesore, that is making people feel like Pittsfield is not attractive to live and work and you turn it around," Kayyem said, after meeting with Pittsfield Economic Development Authority Executive Director Corydon Thurston. "You use a lot of agencies, a lot of cutting across the boundaries of state and federal government, of public and private sector to invest and lure businesses here."

And she believes she can be the one to help with economic development for the city through funding and supporting best practices. She is a supporter of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which PEDA accessed to remediate the former General Electric property that is now the William Stanley Business Park.

But she heard from Thurston that there is more than just that fund in which she can help if elected.

PEDA has been trying to redevelop the land. So far MountainOne Financial has built  a center there and Western Mass Electric Co. has installed one of the largest solar arrays in the state. But there are 52 acres remaining for redevelopment.

Thurston said PEDA is making pitches to companies looking to apply for the multimillion state contract to construct new rail cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and has a $6.5 million earmark to build a life sciences center.

The biggest thing for Thurston is to create continuity among visions and not drastic changes in leadership.

"Things change, society changes, trends change. I don't know how you do it but it is very important," he said. "I think education from a standpoint of planning and a conceptual approach."

The planning to market the property needs to coincide with government officials' policies and they need to stick to it, Thurston said. Changes to opinions about development throws things off.

Juliette Kayyem is one of five Democrats seeking the office.

There has been a recent push for science and math education and that Thurston said needs to continue to reach an end goal.

Right now it is difficult to get young students interested in manufacturing, he said, because of the bitter taste in parents and grandparent's mouths from GE.

The state and the region need to stick with that push because the city is primed to reap benefits from a life science industry. Thurston said the business base needs to grow so the students can see the future of manufacturing.

"STEM has to go somewhere. It has to have continuity. We can't get to the edge of a cliff and then all of a sudden have it drop," he said.

Changes in opinion has created a nearly impossible situation when it comes to the property and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. GE and the EPA agreed to a cleanup of the land and a permit for a storm-water system was in place for when the property was redeveloped.

The land has switched to PEDA's hand at the approval of the EPA, but now that the storm-water permit is expired, the EPA wants a better system that could end up being a $6 million treatment center. PEDA is still working with the EPA on that issue.

"We haven't added to it and there is no ongoing industrial use," Thurston said. "That's tantamount to every dollar plus that we have for redevelopment purposes."

Thurston said there is an array of important initiatives put forth by Gov. Deval Patrick that the organization is "banking on." The primary one is the effort to expand broadband across the state.

"I see that as a huge opportunity for us and what we are doing at the park to seed new businesses. With that, you can basically be anywhere. We need that and we need access to it," he said.

The focus on transportation — both rail and public transportation — and the push for life sciences must continue with a new administration, Thurston said.

Many of those topics Kayyem has already taken a stand to support. She wants to continue those while using her experience at preparedness from Homeland Security to set forth long-term, sustainable growth for the state.

Friday was Kayyem's third trip to the Berkshire since entering the race.



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