Pittsfield School Committee Candidates Weigh In On Issues |
By Joe Durwin On: 06:56PM / Tuesday October 22, 2013 ||
Six of seven candidates vying for 6 seats on the School Committee participated in a debate at BCC on Monday night.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Six of seven candidates running for six available seats on the city's School Committee made their case for election during a debate on Monday night.
Daniel Elias, an eight-term incumbent and current vice chairman, and Katherine Yon, current secretary, along with newcomers Joshua Cutler, Pamela Farron, Anthony Riello and Cindy Taylor, outlined their perspectives on a few of the district's challenges and the past and future performance of its governing committee during the sole debate for this race.
An atmosphere of cordiality, full of compliments and points of enthusiastic agreements, between candidates prevailed throughout the one-hour forum, sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television as part of a series of election debates at Berkshire Community College.
Candidates expressed unanimity on the importance of maintaining two high schools, with the hope that state funding will allow either renovation or replacement of the current Taconic High building with a more advanced technical vocational school. Elias said he had made a "list of 50 reasons" not to reduce to one high school, and Yon said efforts by comparable communities to consolidate to one larger school had proved "disastrous."
Farron agreed that "now is definitely the time to move forward" with the project, though she expressed concerns about whether all 15 of the vocational programs proposed by the school department will be approved by state school building authorities. Riello also favors a new "state of the art" Taconic, lauding the work done by the School Building Needs Commission; Cutler echoed the sentiments for two separate high schools, placing emphasis, however, on the committee's "fiduciary responsibility" to residents that will be still have to shoulder the approximately one fifth of the cost not reimbursed by the state.
A greater diversity of approaches was offered to the problem of students being lost to other school districts through the school-choice option.
"We need to sell our own product," Elias said, suggesting renewed public relations efforts and noting that the only previous spike in student retention had been correlated with an increased publicity campaign pushing Pittsfield school offerings.
Yon chalked a majority of the problem up to "false perception," and suggested that implementing some type of survey paperwork for families leaving a district school might help Pittsfield schools address their issues. "If you could have that one conversation ... it makes a huge difference."
"We really need to have to focus on the core of what we do, and we need to cater to what people want," said Cutler, recommending strengthening core curriculum and expanding special offerings such as vocational offerings and advanced placement courses.
Farron stressed a need to emphasize new educational innovations and grant programs being implemented, "There's so much that Pittsfield schools are already doing."
"People leave for the same reasons they come here. Quality instruction is a big reason why people leave and its also a big reason why people come in," said Taylor, who said they also need to be aware of larger patterns and population shifts that will affect school choice in the future.
A number of responses addressed the nature of the committee's working relationships, both internally and with other parts of city government.
"There are some problems for sure. It is dysfunctional," said Farron in regard to some recent operations of the current body, but praised the level of effort she had seen from all the members.
Riello and Taylor refrained from criticism of the current committee, but expressed optimism in the ability of the committee to work together on common goals going forward.
"I feel that over the last couple of years there's been too much focus on minutiae, and less focus on what actually needs to get done," said Cutler, who said his organizational background and leadership qualities would aid in this.
"I can get along with everyone," said Elias, "You can disagree, and have a heated discussion, and then afterward shake hands and go home."
"Nobody should be allowed to be disrespectful," Yon commented on recent differences of opinion. "I think one of my strengths is making sure everyone behaves in a civil manner."
A seventh candidate on the ballot, Brittany Douglas, did not attend the event. Pittsfield Community Television staff indicated they had received no communication about the absence from Douglas, who also has not accepted an invitation to record a free candidate statement for airing on the station.
Pittsfield To Hold Preliminary Elections in Two Wards |
By Andy McKeever On: 06:00PM / Tuesday August 06, 2013 ||
Updated: Tuesday, August 6 at 6:00 p.m.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There will not be a citywide preliminary election.
As of the deadline, there were only enough candidates to warrant a preliminary election in Wards 1 and 3. There are races in most of the other wards but there needs to be more than double the number of available seats to require a preliminary election to narrow the field.
In Ward 1, Tammy Ives and Lisa Tully are challenging incumbent Christine Yon for the City Council seat. In Ward 3, five people are vying for the seat vacated by Paul Capitanio, who is not seeking re-election. Nicholas Caccamo, Jeffery Germann, Richard Latura, Jennifer McGurn and Thomas Wells Jr. are all seeking that seat. Latura's signatures still need to be certified.
While those two wards are seeing competition, the corner office is going uncontested. Mayor Daniel Bianchi will be running unopposed for the position.
Four councilor-at-large positions will see competition with seven candidates vying for the seats. Incumbents Barry Clairmont, Churchill Cotton and Melissa Mazzeo will be challenged by Kathleen Amuso, Barry Clairmont, James Conant, Mark Miller and Donna Todd Rivers. Incumbent Kevin Sherman is not seeking re-election. Cotton's signatures still needs to be certified.
There will also be a race in Ward 6 with incumbent John Krol being challenged by Joseph Nichol.
There are a number of other unopposed seats — Kevin Morandi for Ward 2; Christopher Connell for Ward 4; Jonathan Lothrop in Ward 5; Anthony Simonelli in Ward 7 and Linda Tyer for City Clerk.
Eight seven candidates are vying for six seats on the School Committee. Incumbents Katherine Yon and Daniel Elias are being challenged by Joshua Cutler, Brittany Douglas, Pamela Farron, Brandon Mauer, Anthony Riello and Cynthia Taylor. Douglas and Farron's signitures still need to be certified.
Update: Brandon Mauer withdrew his name on the last day to do so, Aug. 22. In a public statement, he said, "It has recently come to my attention that I may have employment obligations that would not allow me to offer 100 percent to the School Committee position, that the citizens of Pittsfield deserve, and I also expect from myself."
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Races for the November election are beginning to shape up.
There will be a few City Council races and the number vying for School Committee seats has grown as of Tuesday.
But the mayor does not yet have a competitor. Mayor Daniel Bianchi is currently the only candidate to return nomination papers, putting him on the ballot for a second term. Gerald Ely has taken papers out for the position but he has not returned them.
The four a-large council seats could have as many as eight candidates but so far only four of those eight have returned nomination papers.
Incumbents Melissa Mazzeo and Barry Clairmont have both returned papers. School Committee members Kathleen Amuso and James Conant have also returned nomination papers for the seats. Incumbent Churchill Cotton and Edward Carmel and Donna Todd Rivers have all taken out papers but had not returned them. For an at-large seat, nomination papers must be signed by 300 registered voters. The fourth at-large incumbent, Council President Kevin Sherman, has stated that he will not run this year.
Ward 1 incumbent Christine Yon has returned nomination papers and will be challenged by Tammy Ives and Lisa Tully — both of whom have returned papers with the required 50 signatures from within the ward.
Ward 2 incumbent Kevin Morandi; Ward 4 incumbent Chris Connell and Ward 7 incumbent Anthony Simonelli have all returned papers and are currently running uncontested. Joseph Nichol, who represented Ward 7 from 2009 until unsuccessfully running for mayor in 2011, has taken out papers for Ward 6; incumbent John Krol has not taken out papers yet. Ward 5 incumbent Jonathan Lothrop has not returned election papers and no one else has so far taken out papers for that seat.
Ward 3 has seen a lot of interest but so far has no official contenders. Councilor Paul Capitanio is not running for re-election but five people have indicated interest in being candidates. Jeffrey Germann, Jonathan King, Richard Laura, Jennifer McGurn and Thomas Wells have all taken out election papers for the seat but have yet to return them.
Nine people have shown interest in six seats on the School Committee but only two have become candidates by returning nomination papers. Incumbent Daniel Elias and newcomer Cynthia Taylor have both returned papers while current Chairman Alfred "Alf" Barbalunga has said he will not run for re-election.
Taking out papers but not returning them yet for School Committee are Joshua Cutler, Brittany Douglas, Tanya Edwards, Pamela Farron, Brandon Mauer, Anthony Riello and incumbent Katherine Yon. Three hundred signatures are needed to get on the ballot.
Nomination papers available now; the deadline to return papers with the required signatures is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the city clerk's office.
A preliminary election is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, if needed, and the general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Four Indicate Interest in North Adams Mayoral Run |
Staff Reports On: 02:50PM / Friday August 02, 2013 ||
Update on Aug. 2, 2013: The city could see a lively mayoral preliminary election if the four potential candidates all return papers.
Ronald Boucher, former City Council president who unsuccessfully challenged Richard Alcombright's re-election two years ago, took out nomination papers on Friday. He joins potential candidates Richard David Greene and Robert R. Moulton Jr., a fellow former councilor who backed Alcombright at his first election and Boucher two years ago.
So far the only candidate to return the required nomination papers is Alcombright, who will be running for a third two-year term. Three candidates would have to return papers for a preliminary election on Sept. 24.
Five more people have also taken out papers for City Council and six have returned papers to get on the ballot.
Robert F. Cardimino of East Quincy Street, David R. Robbins of Cady Street, Kate Hanley Merrigan of East Main Street, Benjamin J. Lamb of the Townhouses and Joshura Moran of Catherine Street took out nomination papers between last Thursday, July 29, and today, Friday.
Those five and Edward Lacosse, Richard Lacosse Jr., MaryAnn C. Benoit-Albee, Eric Buddington and incumbent David Bond have not returned papers.
Incumbents Jennifer M. Breen, Nancy P. Bullett and Keith J. Bona have all returned papers; Anthony M. Sarkis Jr., Wayne J. Wilkinson and Michael Hernandez will also be on the ballot.
Incumbents who not taken out papers so far are John Barrett III, Michael Bloom, Marie Harpin and Alan Marden.
If all the potential candidates so far return papers by the Tuesday deadline, there will be 17 names on the ballot.
Taking out papers for North Adams School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton, and newcomers Michele L. Vareschi of E Street and Stewart Burns of Holbrook Street. None of the potential candidates had returned papers as of Friday.
Both Gary F. Rivers and Paul A. Guillotte have returned papers for McCann School Committee. The incumbents will run unopposed for the two seats.
The deadline to submit papers with the required 50 signatures by registered voters 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
So far, three candidates have indicated interest in running for mayor and a dozen for City Council.
Original post: July 26, 2013; 7:22 p.m.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — With less than two weeks to the nomination deadline, three people have taken out papers for mayor and 12 for City Council.
The deadline to submit nomination papers with the signatures of 50 registered North Adams voters is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Papers are still available in the city clerk's office.
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright has already indicated his intention to run for a third two-year term and took out papers on June 24. Also taking out papers were Richard D. Greene of 611 State Road, Holy Family Terrace, and Robert R. Moulton Jr., a former city councilor, of 985 Massachusetts Ave., on July 24 and 25, respectively.
None of the mayoral candidates have yet returned papers.
City Council incumbents who have taken out papers include Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, David Bond, Jennifer Breen and Nancy Bullett. As of Friday afternoon, incumbents John Barrett III, President Michael Bloom, Marie Harpin and Alan Marden had not.
Past council candidates computer programmer and musician Eric R. Buddington of 23 Warren St. and real estate agent Michael J. Hernandez of 160 Eagle St. have taken out papers, as has Planning Board member and Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board Chairman Wayne J. Wilkinson of 120 Oak Hill. Papers were also taken out by Edward LaCosse of 98 Brayton Hill Terrace and Richard LaCosse Jr. of 85 Brayton Hill Terrace; they were the first to pull papers for election, both on May 1. Also in the mix are frequent council attendee MaryAnn C. Benoit-Albee of 16 Rand St. and business consultant Anthony M. Sarkis Jr. of 453 Walnut St.
Of the council candidates, only Breen and Hernandez had returned signatures, although they had not yet been accepted.
All council seats are at large with the nine highest vote-getters being elected.
Should all three (or potentially more) mayoral candidates return papers, there will be a preliminary election, as occurred in 2011, to narrow the field to two. There are currently 12 people indicating interest in a council run; 19 would be required for a council preliminary election.
There are three seats up for election for School Committee, currently held by Heather P. Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark Moulton; and two seats on the McCann School Committee, Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers, both of whom have reportedly pulled papers.
North Adams General Election Set for Nov. 5 |
On: 11:07AM / Wednesday July 24, 2013 ||
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Nomination papers for mayor, City Council and school committees are available in the city clerks office for the municipal election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The deadline to submit nomination papers for signature certification is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the city clerk's office.
Fifty signatures of registered voters are required to get on the ballot for any of the municipal offices up for election, including mayor.
The nine highest vote-getters for City Council will be elected. There are also two seats up for election for School Committee and for the Northern Berkshire Regional School Committee (McCann).
Any preliminary election would be held on Tuesday, Sept. 24. This would occur if there are more than two candidates for mayor or
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES
Last day to register to vote for Primary Election: Wednesday, Sept. 4
Last day to register to vote for General Election: Wednesday, Oct. 16
ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION DEADLINES
Monday, Sept. 23, by noon
Monday, Nov. 4, by noon
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS DUE
Report 1: Sept. 20 by 5 p.m.
Report 2: Oct. 31 by 5 p.m.
Report 3: Jan. 20, 2014, by 5 p.m.
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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North Adams: Candidate forums are being broadcast live by WNAW at 8:30 a.m. daily Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 except Wednesday, when mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and challenger Robet Moulton debate live from 9 to 10.
Meet the candidates at the Elks Lodge breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Below are the webcasts of the North Adams forums:
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 3
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 2
- Oct 25 Council Candidate Forum 1
- Oct 23 Mayoral Debate
- Oct 18 Candidates Forum
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
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.
Absentee ballots are available at city clerk offices until noon on Nov. 4.
Voter registration: The deadline to register or change in voter information for the November election is Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The North Adams city clerk's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.
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