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Adams Selectmen Forum 2012
Staff Reports On: 03:32PM / Sunday April 29, 2012
ADAMS, Mass. — The five candidates running for two three-year terms on the board of Selectmen debated the issues on Saturday afternoon at the Adams Free Library.  The election is Monday, May 7, at the town garage.



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Neal, Shein, Nuciforo Post Quarterly Fundraising Reports
By Andy McKeever On: 11:31AM / Friday April 20, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The striking contrast between Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in the most recent campaign finance reports is the "non-party" contributions (from PACs and organizations) to the race for the Democratic nomination for the 1st Mass District.

According to campaign finance reports, the incumbent, Neal, raised $158,278 in individual contributions compared to Nuciforo's $140,696. However, Neal also raised $636,700 from political action committees whereas Nuciforo has raised nothing. For the first time in the recently released quarterly reports, Bill Shein posted an income of $11,221 - all from individual donations.

The net cash — minus disbursements — for each candidate is Neal with $2.4 million, Nuciforo with $133,000 and Shein with $5,700.

In the first quarter of 2012, Neal raised $122,875, $21,625 of which came from individual donors. Nuciforo raised $42,493, all from individual donations.

The contrast is expected from Shein, who has based his platform against lobbyist influence. Shein and Nuciforo, both from the Berkshires, have recently been taking shots at the incumbent for taking those contributions. However, Nuciforo also has been criticized for taking the same type of funds during his time as a state senator.

Neal, of Springfield, is a 12-term incumbent representing the 2nd Mass District. Redistricting has placed him in the 1st Mass, which is currently represented by U.S. John W. Olver. The retiring Olver has thrown his support to longtime colleague Neal. Nuciforo, of Pittsfield, announced his intention to run for U.S. representative in 2009. Shein is a writer and activist from Alford.


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Laugenour Launching Green Party Bid For State Rep.
By Andy McKeever On: 04:23PM / Thursday April 19, 2012

Photo by Susan Geller
L. Scott Laugenour in 2010.
LENOX, Mass. — In recent elections, the Green Rainbow Party has come closer and closer to securing a seat on Beacon Hill and Lee Scott Laugenour is launching another attempt to become the party's first representative.

Laugenour is gathering signatures and expects to host an official campaign launch in the coming months. After falling short in 2010 for the House's 4th Berkshire District, Laugenour says the campaign is "stronger" than ever before.

"We're stronger and more experienced," Laugenour said on Thursday. "The campaign is stronger, we are stronger. Our strength comes from the people."

A fundraiser last year has already put the party ahead, he said. Laugenour said he is starting this campaign with as much money as he spent all of the last election. With that, he has hired a campaign manager, which he lacked during the last run.

"We saw the need for an effective manager and are now strong enough to hire one," Laugenour said.

Laugenour plans to host an official launch at the end of May to take on Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who defeated Laugenour by a sound margin of 652-159 in 2010. Laugenour says the campaign is not "against" Pignatelli but more a shake up in "politics as usual" to increase the number of voices in government.

"We have a real deficit of democracy," Laugenour said, adding that at this point the 4th Berkshire District appears to be the only contested race. "It's not a campaign against anybody."

Laugenour was also involved in Mark Miller's campaigns in 2010 and in the 2011 special election for the 3rd Berkshire District. Miller fell less than 200 votes short last year of becoming the Green-Rainbow Party's first state representative, an increase from his 2010 bid in which he was barely 1,000 votes shy.

Laugenour said his campaign will be built on sustainable energy policy, health care reform and a general need for different voices.

"Politics as usual isn't serving the community," Laugenour said. "We're just in a downward spiral right now. It's a big money, corporate-dominated structure."

Laugenour says a single-payer health care system is the "obvious" solution to growing health care costs but it is not being enacted because of the "big money" in politics.

"Fifty percent of our budget goes to health care and the solution is obvious but is being thwarted," he said. "We're not making progress."

As for energy, Laugenour supports all types of green energy. While drilling for oil is not done much in Massachusetts, the country is drilling just as much as it always has despite an emphasis on green energy. The state needs to discuss even more green options.

"Is it wind, solar, geothermal? It's probably a combination of them all," Laugenour said. "Let's give our communities a goal to reduce their carbon footprint."

However, he opposes a controversial wind siting bill that officials claimed would streamline the permitting process for wind turbines because of the lack of local control.

"It was allowing a three-member panel to be the voice of the community," Laugenour said. "It's a little bit of a house of cards."

Laugenour said there needs to be more discussions and options for communities to pursue green energy.

"We're all about finding solutions," Laugenour said. "We're supercharged and excited."

Laugenour has just about enough signatures to place him on the ballot and he is just getting them certified now. He expects to be on the ballot on May 15.


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Williamstown Selectmen Candidates Discuss Issues
By Tammy Daniels On: 10:00AM / Thursday April 19, 2012
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The two candidates for a three-year term for selectmen stressed at a forum on Wednesday night that serving the town was the most important factor in their runs.

"I think the best thing that people can do is exemplified by Justin [Adkins]," said Thomas Sheldon, chairman of the Selectmen, referencing his challenger in response to a question about how citizens can help the town. Getting involved, giving time and asking questions were the most important things, Adkins and Sheldon agreed.


'Williamstown is a perfect place for young people to start a business ... we have to keep building on that.'  — Justin Adkins
The half-hour conversation with Sheldon and Adkins was moderated by Mindy Hackner as a "Citizens in League" program for the Williamstown League of Women Voters. The forum and a following half-hour review of the warrant with Sheldon and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Fox were taped for broadcast on WilliNet.

"I hope the people of Williamstown are as impressed as I am by your desire to serve your community," said Hackner. "That's a remarkable thing and thanks to you both for mentioning that as your prime concern."

Adkins, assistant director of the Williams College Multicultural Center and a website developer for Brainspiral Technologies, moved to town about five years ago.

"One of the main reasons I moved to here is because I wanted to be somewhere where I could live according to the values that are most important to me," he said. "To be in a town where I can participate in all aspects of the town."

He's been involved with the Youth Center and high school, among other civic and community activities. His decision to run for selectman came on a rainy night last fall at Zuccotti Park with Occupy Wall Street. He was struck by the general assembly's similarity to town meeting: "It dawned on me one night ... that's why I live in Williamstown."

In response to questions about his youth, Adkins laughed that he's "inching up to 40; I look a lot younger than I am."

He stressed his experience at alma mater Marlboro (Vt.) College, which requires a lot of participation in governance, and his work with a large human services non-profit based in Texas. "I've held a lot of responsibility in my life," he said.

Sheldon, who was elected in his first run for selectman in 2009, has a 35-year career in the New York education system that saw him rise from intern to assistant deputy commissioner and then acting commissioner.


"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one." —Thomas Sheldon
"I have a longstanding commitment to public service and community," he said, but the demands of job and family limited what he could do. He moved to Williamstown a year before retiring. "I vowed that I would get more involved in community activity once I retired."

He immediately begin volunteering at the Milne Public Library and has since tutored at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams and become involved with Images Cinema, currently as chairman of its board, and with the Sustaining Educational Excellence Fund at the high school and with Higher Ground, which is working on affordable housing and aiding Spruces Mobile Home Park residents left homeless by Hurricane Irene.

"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one," he said of his three years on the board of Selectmen. "I think there are significant challenges yet ahead so I decided after a lot of thinking to run again for a second three-year term."

Among the challenges he sees ahead are the capital planning for a new police station, the library, road work, working with the Mount Greylock Regional School District on repairs or rebuilding the high school and, especially, increasing affordable housing.

"That's a huge piece of unfinished business that's important to making this community more accessible to people, more diverse," said Sheldon of affordable housing efforts "closest to my heart." "We need that variety in our town."

Adkins agreed that affordability was paramount, noting that the town's 5 percent affordable housing rate was half that recommended by the state — and it didn't include the Spruces retirement community.

That made it harder for young people in their 20s and 30s to find places to live in Williamstown, he said, talking of his own difficulties in affording a place to live.


Sheldon and Adkins shake hands after the forum.
"Our kids also need to see a way to stay in Williamstown ... something to stay here for," said Adkins, adding there's an entrepreneurial spirit alive in the land. "Williamstown is a perfect place for young people to start a business ... we have to keep building on that."

Sheldon said there have been a lot of missed opportunities and there was a need to make the town hospitable and attractive to businesses without compromising environmental imperatives.

"We also need to find the right balance point, generally speaking, between development and environment. We can't emphasize one to the exclusion of the other," he said, adding that for the forseeable future, "we will not be lacking for meaningful, challenging thought-provoking issues."

The election is Tuesday, May 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the elementary school gymnasium.


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iBerkshires Hosting Selectmen's Debate At Library
By Andy McKeever On: 09:59PM / Monday April 16, 2012
ADAMS, Mass. — iBerkshires.com is hosting a candidate debate among the five candidates vying for the Board of Selectmen.

The debate will be held at the Adams Free Library's Miller Annex on Saturday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m. The debate is expected to last about an hour and a half and is open to the public.

Depending on how technology treats us, we are hoping to live stream the debate on the front page of our website. If we can't livestream it, we will at least have the video clips posted after the event. We'll keep you posted on that. It will also be recorded by Northern Berkshire Community Television for a future showing.

Running for two seats on the board are incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, former Selectman Edward Driscoll and newcomers Richard Blanchard, John Duval and Jeremy Halek. Current board member Jason Hnatonko is not running for re-election. The election is on Monday, May 7.

The candidates will give opening remarks before fielding an array of questions. The moderator will be Editor Tammy Daniels. At least one question will come from iBerkshires Senior Reporter Andy McKeever, another from North Adams Transcript Reporter Phil Demers and the rest generated from you — yes, you.

iBerkshires is seeking questions to ask your next selectmen. Email, tweet (@iBerkshires), Facebook, whichever works best for you. We suggest sending them in early but we also will be checking during the debate. We'll be asking as many of your questions as we can before the candidates give their closing statements.

We'll see you there!


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Adams: Election, May 5, 7-7;

Cheshire: Election, May 5;

Clarksburg: Election, May 27; town meeting, May 28

Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.

 
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The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

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