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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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District Attorney Capeless Seeking Re-election
Staff Reports On: 10:30AM / Thursday February 27, 2014

David Capeless, pictured here at a 2011 press conference, will be seeking re-election in the fall of 2014.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney David Capeless will seek re-election.

Capeless announced his intent Thursday morning in a statement outlining initiatives he had begun during his last ten years in the position.

"I am proud to have served the citizens of Berkshire County as their District Attorney for the past ten years, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to bring justice to our neighborhoods and communities," said Capeless.

"While my office's bullying-prevention initiative may have received the most public attention, the efforts of our community outreach and education program to create communities of respect and acceptance within our schools have been widely greeted by school administrators and teachers as model programs. We are especially proud of the accomplishment of our high school Youth Advisory Board for their success in civic engagement and mentoring projects with young students as well as the growth of our Peer Mentor Leadership program, now in twenty middle schools, both public and private, in the County."

In his statement, Capeless said he has "put a number of important initiatives in place" to raise community awareness and strengthen law enforcement activities. He says he plans to continue with the programs to reduce bullying in schools, safety of senior citizens and combat prescription medication and heroin epidemics.

As for seniors, the TRIAD program was cited as a "highly successful partnership" with Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler and local police departments.

"District Attorney Capeless and I both care greatly not only about the safety of our seniors, but also about improving the communication between seniors and those of us in law enforcement, and the TRIAD program allows us to achieve both of those worthy goals," Bowler said in a prepared statement.

To combat heroin and prescription medication addiction, he said he became a member of the Oxycontin-Heroin Commission holding hearing across the state and proposing legislative initiatives. He says he has also worked with the medical community, schools and other community groups to raise awareness.

"District Attorney Capeless was one of the first to sound the alarm about the problem of prescription medication abuse leading to heroin addiction, and he has done more than nearly anyone else in the Commonwealth to highlight this problem and work to find effective and long-lasting solutions," state Sen. Benjamin Downing said in the release.

The Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force was also created headed by Capeless. That group consists of multiple law enforcement agencies to combat an array of crimes - from drug distribution and burglary rings to homicides.

"Very few law enforcement communities nationwide work collaboratively at such a high level of effectiveness as the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force," said Bowler. "It's a remarkable achievement that has led to many successes in achieving peace and justice for our citizens and District Attorney Capeless is justly proud for bringing us all together."

The seat is for four years and Capeless ran unopposed in 2010. He is the first to announce a bid for the seat. He was appointed to the position in 2004 by then Gov. Mitt Romney following the death of former District Attorney Gerard Downing.



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Statewide Candidates Queried on Mandates, Hospitals
By Andy McKeever On: 05:49PM / Sunday January 26, 2014
Candidates for lieutenant governor and governor attended Sunday's forum.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Candidates running for the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor and governor fielded questions from the audience on Sunday as part of a forum hosted by the Berkshire Brigades.

The local Democratic organizing arm had invited the candidates to introduce themselves in the run up to the local caucuses and the state Democratic Party Convention in June. The primary election is in September.

The candidates were first allowed 5 to 10 minutes to talk about themselves and their platforms, after an address to the group by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, and later mingled with the crowd.

Read by Brigade member Lee Harrison, the lieutenant governor candidates were asked about their relationship with whoever is elected governor while the gubernatorial candidates were asked about access to physicians and unfunded mandates.

All of the gubernatorial candidates said any state mandates on municipalities should be coupled with dollars to fund them.

Joseph Avellone said mandates dig into unrestricted aid, which is aimed to help towns reduce their property tax burdens on residents.

"The state has a very important role in helping to fund local government because of our property tax set up. But it can't come with a lot of unfunded mandates," Avellone said of unrestricted, local aid.

Donald Berwick called the mandates "unfair" and said "the responsibility should lie with those who pass the mandates." He called for a "realistic revenue policy" that includes lowering health-care costs, closing tax loopholes and switching to a progressive tax.

"We've got to look at this as a whole," he said.

Martha Coakley simply said any mandate requiring funds must be supplemented by the state or not done at all.

"I don't like them. I think they should end. If the state is going to mandate something — and I'll add the caviad on that costs money, some mandates don't but most have a pricetag attached — the state either has to provide ways to supplement that or not do it," Coakley said.

Steven Grossman particularly said circuit breaker accounts for special education need to be fully funded. It isn't just mandates, he said, it is issues like road infrastructure that burden towns as well.

"That may not be an unfunded mandate but it is a requirement that we fix the roads and bridges. As governor, I would make sure we provided at least the $300 million the Legislature decided to do and all of the money would be released by April 1 so the cities can bid them out."

Juliette Kayyem said unfunded mandates signal a lack of transparency in government. She also called for towns to work cooperatively and invest in regional planning and investments.

"I think they are wrong generally unless they have a separate revenue source," she said of the mandates.

As for access to hospitals, Kayyem, a security expert, said she would "give a little tough love" as governor to increase safety. She also said she would invest in first responders and medical staff. Further, she called for changes to zoning bylaws to protect individuals from natural disasters, which was part of a two-part question of hospital safety.

Grossman said he'd implement a program to send new medical school graduates to so-called Gateway Cities and rural areas for a few years and, in turn, the state would forgive their loans.

Berkshire Brigades President Sheila Murray introduces the candidates.

Coakley expanded on access to health care, citing its particular importantance to Berkshire County, saying she wants to use case managers for people and families facing chronic health issues. That should brought into the schools as well, she said.

Berwick began his career in rural areas as a doctor and says he knows the issue well. The solution is to strengthen the overall system and "re-engineer" to one that is focused on patient outcomes instead of pay-for-service. The rural areas are in a better position to make that switch, he said.

Avellone agreed with medical loan forgiveness programs but also added that there needs to be more opportunities for residencies. He also said loan forgiveness would be extended to other practitioners and not just doctors.

As for the relationship with the governor, the lieutenant governor candidates all said they would form a team with the elected leader.

"What we've seen with the Patrick-Murray administration when the lieutenant governor was still serving was a partnership," Lake said, referring to former Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray who resigned nearly a year ago. "You need that level of partnership and commitment."

James Arena-DeRosa said the lieutenant governor role would be to bring together public and private sectors for long-term planning.

"Too often politics is about the next election," he said.

Jonathan Edwards said the role would be to help roll out and implement policies the governor crafts. Knowing the issues in all of the towns, the lieutenant governor can help to "sell" the plan.

"I'm nothing but a wingman. I'm a leader but also a wingman," Edwards said.

Steven Kerrigan, too, said he would be a partner with the governor in helping to make sure that the government is "efficient and effective." He says the role would also be building trust between the administration and the voters.

"We can work on job No. 1, which is building back a gap in trust between the voters and the government," Kerrigan said.



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Republican Candidate For Governor Baker Stumps In Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever On: 03:38AM / Wednesday January 22, 2014
Charlie Baker, on the right, meets with the Berkshire County Republicans on Tuesday night after taping a show on PCTV.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Charlie Baker says that in order to get the best results, you have to "have both teams on the field."

Baker met with the Berkshire County Republicans on Tuesday at Zucco's Family Restaurant.

He is one of two GOP candidates after Mark Fisher of Shrewsbury announced his intention to run in December.

Baker told the local committee that he wants to use his 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors to improve the state's economy and school systems.

"We haven't created a single net new job in 13 years. We have the same number of people working that we had in 2000. How can that be? How can a state that brings everything we bring to the table lag when it comes to growing and creating jobs and economic opportunity?" Baker said.

"The answer is pretty simple. We are wicked smart but we finished 48th or 49th in every single survey that has to do with the cost of almost everything."

Baker boasted of his tenure as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim — taking the job when the company was going into receivership. While nobody thought the company could make a financial turnaround, Baker said he "set the bar high" to turn it around. He said the company is thriving, and he left in 2009 to bring his ideas for success to state government.

In 2010, Baker ran for the governor's office but lost to Deval Patrick, who was running for a second term. But in that race, he learned a lot about the concerns of municipalities around the state. In this campaign, Baker says he won't be spending time just learning the issues but instead focusing his conversations on how to solve them.

What he is hearing is that voters "want is a hands-on governor who can get stuff done" and he cited his time working under former Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci as being able to work with a Democratic House and Senate to better the state.

"We saw problems. We got stuff done. We made government work and we put people back to work," Baker said, particularly pointing to education reform as leading to rising to SAT scores, to workers' compensation reform and to the jobless rate going from being the worst in the country to one of the best.

But since the 1990s, Baker said the state "lost its fastball." Economic development as his No. 1 priority, with closing the achievement gaps in schools and working with municipalities to create economic strategies being the focus.

His belief is that the state needs a Republican in office to help bring the best ideas to the table — not just one, Democratic viewpoint. And that theory dates back to his childhood dinner table when his Republican father and Democratic mother debated issues. His parents would debate the "means" while trying to achieve the same "ends."

Baker gave a 15-minute speech before fielding questions from the audience.

"What my parents showed me all that time when I was a kid was, in fact, true. You do get a better product when you have both teams on the field," Baker said. "You do get a better result when you have two teams competing. You get a better government and better process when you have more than one set of ideas engaged."

The solutions to the state's problems aren't complicated, he said, because the answers are there. It is just finding the best solutions and "replicating" them.

"I know how to set the bar high. I know how to build teams. I know how to hold people accountable and help them get over the bar," he said.

One thing he'd like to implement if elected is a massive regulatory review. He said government adds regulations to businesses but seldom cleans up prior ones, allowing them to pile up. Now there are cases where complying with one state agency can lead a business to be out of compliance with another.

"The state needs to speak with one voice on this," he said.

He is calling for legislators to do a full review of the regulations every couple of years and debate the need and effectiveness of them. He is also calling for standing committees that will work with those who will are being regulated because "some of the best ideas" will come from them.

Overall, Baker described his leadership as one that "dreams big" and "sets the bar high." He wants the state to work hard and for the taxpayers to get value out of the money they put into the system.

"I don't want Massachusetts to be great just here, here and here. I want Massachusetts to be great everywhere," Baker said.

After a 15-minute speech Baker fielded questions regarding issues of senior care, homelessness, business, veterans and transportation. Baker was also a guest on Berkshire GOP's television program "Out Front TV" on PCTV.

Baker is the most recent of the gubernatorial field to visit the Berkshires; Fisher is expected to visit the region in the coming weeks. On the Democratic side, Martha Coakley, Joseph Avellone, Donald Berwick, Steven Grossman and Juliette Kayyem have all held at least one campaign event (Coakley, Grossman and Berwick have held two) in the Berkshires. Independent Evan Falchuk was in the Berkshires twice.

While this was Baker's first trip since entering the race in September, he told the crowd that it won't be his last.

Correction: An earlier version failed to note that Republican Mark Fisher had entered the race for governor. iBerkshires regrets the error.



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Primary
Tuesday, Sept. 9

Voting is from 7 to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation is Aug. 20; only unenrolled voters may select which primary to vote in. More information on registering can be found here.

Candidates on the ballot in a race for their party nomination; all others on the ballot are unopposed

Republican
  Governor: Charles D. Baker & Mark R. Fisher

Democratic
  Governor: Donald M. Berwick, Martha Coakley & Steven Grossman
  Lieutenant governor: Leland Cheung, Stephen J. Kerrigan & Michael E. Lake
  Attorney general: Maura Healey & Warren E. Tolman
  Treasurer: Thomas P. Conroy, Barry R. Finegold & Deborah B. Goldberg
 

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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