Staff Reports On: 08:14PM / Sunday October 30, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There are three forums scheduled this week for candidates running for mayor, City Council and School Committee in the city. All the debates will be hosted by Northern Berkshire Community Television and broadcast on Channel 17.
Mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright and Ronald Boucher will face off in their third and last debate aired live on Tuesday, Nov. 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by iBerkshires, the hourlong debate will take place at the studio without an audience. iBerkshires' Editor in Chief Tammy Daniels will be the moderator.
The focus of the debate will be economic growth, management and government/public services.
Voters are encouraged to email questions or issues they would like addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org with "election questions" in the subject line or tweet us @iberkshires during the debate using hashtag #election2011.
The debate will also air on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 3, at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The 16 City Council candidates will be taped in two 50-minute forums at the studio on Wednesday, Nov. 2, to be aired later. Sponsored by the North Adams Transcript, the candidates will be split into two groups of eight and asked the same three questions in alphabetical order, according to the newspaper.
The first group will be John Barrett III, Lisa Blackmer, Michael Bloom, Keith Bona, David Bond, Eric Buddington, Nancy Bullett and Robert Cardimino.
The second group will be Catherine Chaput, Diane Gallesse-Parsons, Marie Harpin, Michael Hernandez, Jennifer Breen Kirsch, Alan Marden, Greg Roach and Gail Sellers.
The forums will be shown back to back beginning on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 5, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Monday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
A School Committee debate to be taped on Thursday has been canceled because not enough candidates were able to attend. Invited to participate are Mary Lou Acetta, Lawrence K. Taft, Leonard Giroux Jr., Tara Jacobs and David Lamarre. The five are running for three seats. They have been invited to submit candidate statements to iBerkshires.
The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 9 to 7. The deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Nov. 7, at noon in the city clerk's office.
Marchetti Campaign On: 09:59AM / Friday October 28, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Candidate for mayor Peter Marchetti lays out his Vision for Pittsfield in a series of position statements concerning job creation, education, the arts, neighborhoods and communication from the mayor's office.
As the campaign season comes to a close, Marchetti, a councilor at-large, has identified five major areas that he feels need attention and looks forward to working with the public, the City Council, School Committee and boards and commissions in the city of Pittsfield to work out details for a forward-looking vision for our city.
"As we've come a long way as a city, we must also look to the future," said Marchetti, who seeks to engage in the discussion that will bring the city of Pittsfield into the next generation. All parts of Pittsfield can come together and have a part in the discussion. Everyone is encouraged to join the conversation with a Marchetti administration in City Hall.
Marchetti has served Pittsfield in so many ways over the last two decades. As a member of the City Council, leading the Fourth of July Parade or serving on boards and commissions, including Traffic and Conservation, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Board, the PCTV Board and the Morningside Initiative, he has grown in all of these activities and they have provided him a wealth of experience that effectively can be applied to being Mayor of Pittsfield.
First, Job Creation:
I will develop an incentive program, utilizing a portion of the GE economic development funds, to support our existing businesses to grow and provide jobs. I will establish a small business trust fund that will be used as needed to foster steady growth of our existing companies while pursuing more companies to locate here. With wise use of the GE economic development funds and support from the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., both can be accomplished.
I will work to streamline our permitting processes for business expansion. My administration will build closer relationships between the city's Economic Development Office, PEDA, PERC the Chamber, and the business community at large to fully tap the potential of the William Stanley Business Park. I will see to it that clearly established procedures are put into practice to enhance communication. In the current national economy, we must all be prepared to move quickly and decisively to capitalize on new opportunities. I see opportunities to strengthen locally owned businesses with a focus on new technology fields and our own plastics industry.
Part 2, Education:
Despite a challenging economy, we must embrace where we are and take the opportunity for our public schools to take a giant leap forward. I would like to see a modernized vocational/technical high school teaching our students to succeed in a rapidly changing work environment. We need to be responsive to business leaders who can help us read and anticipate changing market trends. I also intend to work with BCC to increase adult learning programs for the same reasons. For too long we've had jobs looking for trained workers and workers who don't fit those jobs. I will work very closely with legislators to find the ways and the means to support this effort.
I am heartened by improvements in our MCAS scores, a reduced drop-out rate, and I am well aware of the shortcomings of our current high school facilities. I want to see two dynamic high schools meeting the needs of our community, and keeping our youth here in Pittsfield schools to reverse the tide of school-choice dollars leaving our community.
Connecting our educational system, our business and collegiate communities, and our city government can build internship programs to bring our students into the workplace and the workplaces to our students. As Mayor, and a member of the Pittsfield School Committee, I will work with Dr. Eberwein and the school administration to strengthen and expand intern and co-op programs. I will also reach out to MCLA and the University of Massachusetts to explore ways in which they may contribute. We want our kids to dream, and we want to give them the tools to help them realize their dreams. There are definitely roles for the business community as well as our arts and culture economy to play in this effort. I am pleased to announce that I am the candidate of choice for the UEP.
Part 3, The Arts:
I will work closely with our growing and engaged arts community to promote our creative economy. This will grow Pittsfield as a magnet for tourists to visit, see one of the great shows being performed at one of our theaters, shop, dine, and stay while bringing in increasing tax revenues. As well, we must keep looking for the right balance so people from all walks of life can enjoy the fruits of having this wonderful arts and cultural community within our midst.
This is becoming one of the great selling points to Pittsfield. We will build on this. Add to it our natural beauty, and we are a clear destination city. There's no question that the arts and culture have a huge impact on our schools as well.
Part 4, Neighborhoods:
We can easily expand on the successes of our Neighborhood Initiatives citywide. We have proven in Morningside, the West Side and Downtown that we can build pride, beautify large areas of the city, establish community watches, and make everyone feel they are a part of being safe. Police and fire protection for all areas of the city will not be compromised.
Over time, as mayor, we will focus on improving the roadways and sidewalks citywide. I want to see safe and drug-free streets, closer relationships among neighborhood associations and overall better communication with City Hall. We have learned that neighbors helping neighbors are the best building blocks to a better Pittsfield. Positive and optimistic approaches can have tremendous results with everyone pitching in a little. City government can help in so many ways. Trust and communication are the keys to our success over time.
Regularly scheduled neighborhood meetings around the city with ward and at-large councilors can also improve communication and generate ideas that can work for various areas of the city.
Part 5, Communication:
I intend to strengthen and encourage communication among everyone. I will restart the mayor's "From the Corner Office"show prior to council meetings to explain my initiatives and some of the processes. Voters need to know some of the background and thinking of the mayor and his administration as new programs and policies are being developed, approved and executed. More information is always better, timely information is crucial.
We are all equal parts of Pittsfield and I think we all need optimism, hope and inclusiveness. People from all walks of Pittsfield can enjoy an honored and respected seat at the table when I become mayor. One of the most important roles that a mayor can play is to build positive and beneficial relationships between and among all the segments of our community. There is so much to celebrate about Pittsfield and I will lead the effort to make more of us to feel better and more of a "stake" in Pittsfield's future.
Times are difficult in this economy, but with good solid financial management, true efforts to solicit input and accentuate the positive, we can rise to the challenges we face together, and build a more unified Pittsfield. As with any plan or vision, this is a living statement of principles which can and should change and be updated all the time. Visions are long-term, long view, and necessarily involve inspiration and input. Vision statements also should be fluid and dynamic enough to change with the times and take advantage of evolving circumstances. The city of Pittsfield can achieve so much over time with the right combination of positive attitude, team building and hopeful outlook. Working together, we can all build a path to a Pittsfield that will continue to grow and unify and thrive. We can build "One Pittsfield" together.
My private sector work, my community involvement and business experience, and eight years of local government service, have given me the perspectives to serve the people of the city of Pittsfield well. Our system of government has been established to serve a constructive role. We all have to work together to see that private, cultural and public sectors collaborate in a way that will benefit everyone. As your mayor, I will listen carefully and respectfully to everyone who wants to help Pittsfield to prosper.
I ask for your vote and support on Nov. 8 so that I may have the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Pittsfield. "One Pittsfield." Please join in the conversation about our future.
Alcombright Campaign On: 09:49AM / Friday October 28, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright announced that he has received the support of U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and Berkshire Sheriff Thomas Bowler for re-election to the office of mayor.
"It is a pleasure to publicly support Mayor Dick Alcombright for re-election," Olver stated. "Since taking office, Mayor Alcombright has demonstrated leadership and progressive planning in the City of North Adams. I look forward to working with him on other economic development initiatives and city projects in the future."
"Dick Alcombright has made a difference for North Adams at a time when every community is feeling economic stress. His commitment to addressing the municipal issues that every city faces and his work on the issues that make North Adams unique are sure signs that his leadership is what the city needs. I hope that you will vote on election day and that you will re-elect Dick Alcombright for mayor. As your attorney general, I want the best for all of our families and kids, and all of our cities and towns in the commonwealth. I have known Dick Alcombright for well over 40 years, and am proud to support him for re-election."
"Dick has been a great partner the past two years. He has been tireless in his efforts to make sure state proposals to make government work and put people to work, work for North Adams. He has fought to retain state services in the city and has worked to make sure they remain for those in need. He has been a great partner for me, but more importantly, he's been a great fighter for the citizens of North Adams."
"I would like to recognize and thank Mayor Alcombright for his commitment to the collaborative efforts with the sheriff's office in education/Juvenile Resource Center, public safety/Triad and Senior Safety programs, and the community service projects conducted for the last two years in the City of North Adams."
"I am so pleased to have the support of these four wonderful public servants. To have them speak so highly on my behalf is humbling," Alcombright said. "My work with them is an extension of my daily responsibilities. All have made themselves very accessible to me and have provided significant resources that have brought so much good to our city, county, state and country. I thank them all for their friendship, mentoring and their votes of confidence."
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The following mayoral debate between incumbent Richard Alcombright and challenger Ronald Boucher, council president, was filmed at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center by Northern Berkshire Community Television.
It was hosted by the North Adams Transcript and moderated by Transcript Editor Michael Foster and Senior Reporter Jennifer Huberdeau.
By Joe Durwin On: 05:24PM / Tuesday October 25, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Heated disagreement and barbed comments characterized the debate between mayoral hopefuls Daniel Bianchi and Peter Marchetti on Monday night at Berkshire Community College.
This final debate of the evening at the college interspersed questions from moderator Brandon Walker of YNN with opportunities for the candidates to pose them to each other. The debates were sponsored by The Pittsfield Gazette and the college, and broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television.
Several of the questions were hauntingly familiar to those sparred over in the 2009 mayoral debates between Bianchi and James Ruberto, among them PEDA, cultural development, and school buildings.
The candidates were seated according to their positions on the ballot, with Daniel Bianchi first and Peter Marchetti second.
The candidates clashed, as they have throughout the campaign, on whether as mayor they would choose to sit on the board of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which oversee the redevelopment of the former GE property now known as William Stanley Business Park.
Bianchi, who also expressed impatience with the progress of PEDA during his unsuccessful 2009 campaign, has repeatedly stated that he would appoint himself to its board, as Ruberto had. "We have not operated with a sense of urgency when it comes to new jobs and new job creation," he said.
Marchetti repeated his view that the mayor's role was to link the PEDA board with that of Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., the state Office of Economic Development, and other relevant agencies "to set clear goals and objectives ... and if that board cannot meet those goals and objectives, then it's the mayor's responsibility to replace them with those that can.”"
In one of Marchetti's open questions to Bianchi, he challenged the former city councilor on his votes against the creation of the Office of Cultural Development, as well as the $1 million allocation to the Colonial Theatre from the GE Economic Development Fund.
Bianchi said he had supported the Colonial, previously voting in favor of $460,000 in funding, but felt that the million-dollar "gift" was not necessary because of the Colonial's other fundraising efforts.
As for the Office of Cultural Development, Bianchi said he had voted for Megan Whilden's appointment twice, acknowledging he had voted against the post initially. "I was frustrated the first time the appointment came around. That frustration was a result of the mayor getting rid of a longtime employee," he said, referring to Daniel O'Connell, who previously developed and coordinated public arts and activities from the Lichtenstein Center from the 1970s to 2005, when he was let go to make way for Whilden to take the helm of the newly created office.]
"I guess we both like to rewrite history in our own ways, because I have the minutes from the City Council meetings where you voted twice against the Office of Cultural Development," Marchetti responded.
In one his questions, Bianchi took issue with his opponent's record on what he depicted as favoritism in Ruberto's hiring practices, including a 40 percent raise for Tricia Farley-Bouvier when she worked at City Hall.
Marchetti suggested Bianchi was being misleading, that in fact the vote had been to create a new position, director of administration, not just increase a salary.
"I never took a vote to give the mayor's ally a raise, I took a vote to create a job position," Marchetti said. He also vowed that in his administration, there would be none of the "acting appointments" that have become controversial during Ruberto's tenure.
On a related subject to those appointments, Bianchi spoke in support of a suggested charter review commission to retool the city's governing rules, "and I believe, Pete, that you've suggested you would not do that."
At this, Marchetti once again accused his opponent of "rewriting history."
"Any chance I've had the ability to vote for the establishment of a charter commission, I voted in favor, so let's just make sure we keep our facts straight in this debate."
It was on the thorny issue of school building needs that the sparring between the two candidates became most heated. Both men said they have always supported major overhauls of both Taconic and Pittsfield high schools as opposed to a "one high school plan."
Marchetti was asked by his opponent why he had opposed a recent petition brought forth by Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Joseph Nichols to place a question on the ballot asking voters to weigh in on the school building decision process. When Marchetti began to answer that the question as phrased was flawed and did not address any of the issues both candidates had just discussed, Bianchi interrupted him several times to interject that it could have, if it had been referred to the Committee on Ordinances and Rules for retooling.
"You asked me a question, please be respectful enough to let me answer it," Marchetti said, raising his voice. Moderator Brandon Walker interjected, asking Bianchi to allow Marchetti to answer the question.
"I made comment that night that there is not enough information at this stage of the game to craft a question. It wasn't that I wasn't looking for the people's input ... the question was premature."
The question, as presented to the council at its July 12 meeting, read "Do you support the School Building Needs Commission's decision to build a new high school in Pittsfield?" It was voted down 9-2, with only Mazzeo and Nichols in support. The majority opinion was that the question proposed would be confusing and misleading to voters, as the commission has reached no such decision.
In closing statements, candidates continued to outline differences in their visions for Pittsfield. Marchetti highlighted his five priorities for moving Pittsfield forward: job creation, continued improvement in education, neighborhood improvements, continued support of the arts community, and improved communication. "I believe that my record supported many of the positive changes that have taken place in Pittsfield over the last eight years."
Bianchi said the election offers "a clear choice" for voters. "I'm the candidate with an ambitious, comprehensive plan to create an atmosphere within City Hall that welcomes public opinion and embraces our differences, and sets a reasonable pace for moving Pittsfield in a new direction."
The state is holding a special election to fill the seat vacated by John F. Kerry, who has been confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.
The state primary is Tuesday, April 30. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary is Wednesday, April 10. Enrolled voters may only vote in their party primary; unenrolled voters may select a primary to vote in without changing their status.
The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25. The last day to register to vote in the election is Wednesday, June 5.
To register to vote, one must be at least age 18 by the date of the election, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the municipality in which you are voting.