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."
By Joe Durwin On: 02:12PM / Wednesday October 26, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local business owner J. Joseph Breault and four-term incumbent Jonathan Lothrop voiced their differences on Ward 5 issues at the final night of election debates at Berkshire Community College this season.
The debate was sponsored by the Berkshire Gazette and BCC and aired on Pittsfield Community Television. The moderator was Shawn Serre of PCTV.
Jonathan Lothrop pointed to what he said was clear improvement in Pittsfield, and throughout Ward 5, in the eight years since he had taken office. He contrasted his terms on the council to the dire economic situation of the city and perceived lack of progress on projects in Ward 5
As throughout the debate, Breault in his opening expressed no particular antipathy for the incumbent or his performance as Ward 5 councilor, but stressed that he felt that it was important to the democratic process that people have a choice, "and if they're looking for a change, that change can happen." He cited this belief in the importance of voters having a choice as his main reason for running for office.
Jonathan Lothrop is running for a fifth term representing Ward 5; local businessman J. Joseph Breault said he's running to offer voters a chance for change.
The two expressed points of difference on several key issues. As to what should be done about the ailing Department of Public Works garage on West Housatonic, Breault believes "Renovation is not an option, it needs to be relocated or rebuilt."
Lothrop agreed that the building is a serious problem, but that no one had yet offered a viable solution. "We need to see some real data, not just 'here's an idea and let's see what you think about it."
As to whether Pittsfield should continue to have a line item on the budget for funding Downtown Inc., Lothrop was in favor, saying that having the nonprofit association, which operates similarly to a chamber of commerce for downtown, has been an important partner with the city in advancing projects such as the Beacon Cinema.
Breault said that although as a business owner he was a member of Dowtown Inc., he believes that the organization has "run it's course, I don't think it's necessary anymore to have that organization in the taxpayer's pockets." He views it as obsolete now that the city is involved in countywide promotional efforts with the formation of the 1Berkshire coalition.
Breault and Lothrop both said they supported the allocation for Ice River Springs to move its cooling tower and increase the number of empoyees. Lothrop said the city government had worked with the company on an ongoing basis to see that promised jobs would be created and noise issues arising from the facility were dealt with. Breault also expressed satisfaction with the way the issue has been handled, and expressed enthusiasm for doing even more to create new jobs in Pittsfield.
In closing, Breault reiterated that the primary reason for his candidacy was to offer residents a choice. He pointed to his experience as a longtime business owner of Jimmy's Restaurant in Ward 5, and his involvement in the community through being a supporter of Little League baseball in Pittsfield for 25 years.
"The choice is now clear for anybody in Ward 5," he said. "They can vote for a change, or if they're happy with what they have they can stay with the current councilor."
Lothrop pointed to what he saw as some of his accomplishments in Ward 5, such as a compromise on the airport, blocking a transfer station on South Street, and negotiations with Ice River Springs, pointing to a lack of involvement by Breault in those conversations.
"My biggest disappointment is that five years ago, Mr. Breault tried to propose a strip club in Ward 5," Lothrop said, referring to a 2005 application to open the controversial Munchies on West Housatonic Street, which Lothrop opposed.
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 Tammy Daniels On: 08:26PM / Tuesday October 25, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Challenger Jeffrey Ferrin did his best to pummel Paul Capitanio on the issues in Monday's Ward 3 debate, while the incumbent took the former mayoral candidate to task for acting like he's already been elected.
The candidates took the stage in the first of four debates on Monday night sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Berkshire Community College, and aired on Pittsfield Community Television. The moderator was Shawn Serre of PCTV.
The two had little in common and split immediately on the thorny subject of taking down the 35,000-square-foot former Grossman's Outlet on East Street. Capitanio said it would cost $190,000; Ferrin, $2 million or more.
Capitanio said the vacant eyesore "should be demolished; it's blight ... it's certainly not an asset."
The current councilor has asked the city to foot some of the bill for tearing down the condemned structure. "If anybody else has a plan we'd certainly listen to it but they've been trying to sell it for five years."
Ward 3 incumbent Paul Capitanio, above, said he would continue to work hard for his ward; challenger Jeffrey Ferrin said he'd do his homework to protect taxpayers.
Ferrin, however, claims the demolition would cost the city nearly $2 million and leave it with a PCB-contaminated property. He said his numbers came from a lengthy conversation with Michael T. Carroll, manager of GE Pittsﬁeld Remediation Program, and that he'd filed a petition with the council to have Carroll and the major players in the property appear to answer questions.
"Councilor Capitanio voted against that, which concerned me because his question was where'd I get my information and how did we know it was true I spoke to them," said Ferrin. "That would have been the perfect opportunity to ask those very questions. ... I'm kind of concerned he wanted to approve the money to raze it but didn't want anybody to answer any questions."
They also disagreed on problems at Deming Park, with the Capitanio saying flooding had been an issue but he worked with Pittsfield Economic Development Authority to alleviate the problem. "We took care of the four or five properties that were affected," he said. "I don't know of any flooding issues."
Ferrin said the flooding hasn't been completely dealt with and may have been affected by unpermitted changes to the infield and other areas. He vowed if elected to ensure that any future work was properly permitted.
The two generally agreed on the continuance of curbside trash pickup, with Capitanio considering further exploration of using the toter system and Ferrin saying "education, education, education," was the key to increasing recycling.
Capitanio defended the use of up to $275,000 in GE Economic Development Funds to reimburse Ice River Springs for moving its cooling tower because of neighborhood noise complaints and tied in increments to adding jobs. "I'm absolutely for that," he responded to a question on personal standards for release of the funds.
"I'm unsure about the Shaker Village, I did vote for that," Capitanio continued, referring to funds to aid the living history museum in launching a historical architectural program with Amherst College. "I don't know if I regret that or not but, hopefully, it will work out."
Ferrin took a harsher view, saying he was "absolutely against Ice River Springs" getting fund money because the company "lied about their employment status — they employed part-time and temporary workers from agencies instead of full-time workers under their TIF agreement."
He said he was leery of giving economic development money to nonprofits such as Shaker Village, but thought he could have supported the Colonial Theatre, "but it still hasn't produced livable wage jobs for the community."
Both were against borrowing to replace the school bus fleet at this point, with Ferrin saying a comprehensive plan needs to be laid out first and Capitanio that other options should be considered, particularly privatization. Both also agreed the dissolution of the Parks Department had some benefits but has also affected the other departments' abilities to get the work done.
Ferrin stressed the research he does on issues and vowed to be the voice of the taxpayers. "I have no connection to the good old boy network."
Capitanio briefly chastised Ferrin for failing to pass on an email from a constituent, leading her to believe Ferrin was her councilor. He then talked of the projects in Ward 3 he helped bring to fruition, and said he would continue to work hard for his ward. "If we work together and help each other we can maintain the quality of life Ward 3 deserves."
Clarksburg: Election, May 27; town meeting, May 28
Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.
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.