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BCC to Host Middle Register of Deeds Forum
On: 10:08PM / Tuesday August 21, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College, in collaboration with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, will host a forum for Berkshire Middle register of deeds candidates on Monday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. in Room K-111.

This event is open to the public.

All three candidates for register of deeds have been invited: Patsy Harris, Jody Phillips and Scott Pignatelli. Bill Sturgeon, radio personality with WRSS 104.3-FM, will serve as moderator.

Each of the candidates is registered with the Democratic Party. The winner of the seat will essentially be selected by the primary election on Thursday, Sept. 6, because no other candidates are on the ballot for the general election in November.

Registered Democrats and independents are eligible to vote in the primary election.

The the debate will be telecast live on CityLink, the government channel of PCTV, and livestreamed at

The candidates will also face off in a second debate being hosted live by WBEC 1420-AM from 11 to noon on Wednesday, Aug. 29, in collaboration with and PCTV.

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Friday Last Day to Register For Primary Election
On: 04:17PM / Tuesday August 14, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The last day to register to vote or make changes on your party affiliation for the September primary is Friday, Aug. 17.

But citizens should know that you've only got until 5 p.m. that day in many communities.

The registration deadline is set 20 days before a primary. Normally that falls on a Wednesday but this year's primary is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6 — putting the last day for registration on a Friday, in August.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin is using a directive under his emergency powers to allow municipal clerks and voter registration boards to close registration three hours earlier than the statutory 8 p.m.

Since many communities have early or no town hall hours on Fridays, they were given the ability to close at 5, said Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff on Tuesday. "The clerks were notified that hours for registering to vote are 9 to 5, however, if a community wishes to stay open until 8 they can."

North Adams City Hall, for example, closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays during the summer; in Clarksburg, the town offices are normally closed on Friday.

North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said her office will be open from 8 to 5 on Friday; Adams Town Clerk Haley A. Meczywor's office will also be open until 5.

To ensure you make the registration deadline, call ahead to find out when your town clerk's office will be open.

Those who wish to register or to change their party enrollment can also come in during regular office hours this week, which is 8:30 to 4 in Adams and from 8 to 4:30 in North Adams.

To register, 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. If you have changed your name, moved to a new town or, in some places, failed to respond to your local census, you will need to re-register.

Absentee ballots are now available; the deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The polls will be open on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. Voting locations can be found here.

Meczywor also advises persons who sign up at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to bring the receipt with them to the polls. Residents may encounter problems on election day because Registry data is often not transmitted in time to town halls.

Candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot

Democratic Candidates

U.S. Senator: Elizabeth Warren

Congressman, 1st District: Richard E. Neal, Andrew F. Nuciforo Jr., Bill Shein

Governor's Council: Michael J. Albano, Gerry Roy, Kevin J. Sullivan

State Senator: Benjamin B. Downing

State Representative:
1st Berkshire: Gailanne Cariddi
2nd Berkshire: Paul W. Mark
3rd Berkshire: Tricia Farley-Bouvier
4th Berkshire: William "Smitty" Pignatelli

Clerk of Courts: Deborah S. Capeless

Register of Deeds, Middle District: Patsy Harris, Jody L. Phillips, Scott M. Pignatelli
Berkshire Northern: Frances T. Brooks
Berkshire Southern: No nominations

Republican Candidates

U.S. Senator: Scott P. Brown

Governor's Council, 8th District: Michael F. Case, Michael Franco

No nominatons for other offices

Green-Rainbow Candidates

State Representative, 4th Berkshire: Lee Scott Laugenour

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Congressional Debate Schedule Brings Disappointment
By Joe Durwin On: 11:39PM / Wednesday August 08, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The three contenders for the 1st Massachusetts District seat expressed stark disagreements this week over the extent of scheduled debates for the upcoming election, which will be decided at the Sept. 6 Democratic primary.

Candidates Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein both criticized current 2nd District Rep. Richard Neal this week based on reports he has accepted only two of at least six debate invitations put forth to the candidates over the past several months.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Congressman Neal has chosen to avoid four of the six proposed debates," said Nuciforo in a statement. "He sees the same data we see, and these data show that we have widespread support and solid positions on issues that resonate with voters. Neal knows that this race is neck and neck, and he thinks he will lose fewer votes by declining to attend. By evading debates, the congressman is doing a disservice to voters, and is further eroding faith in our democratic system."

Shein similarly called the decision "disappointing, but not surprising."

"Regardless, we'll continue our substantive campaign about the big changes we need in our politics and economy that I've been advocating for years," said Shein. "At the two debates we are having, I look forward to contrasting my views and very different priorities with the other candidates and wish Rep. Neal well with his very busy schedule."

Neal's campaign maintains that he is not unwilling to debate, and that the candidate readily accepted debate invitations in both Pittsfield and Springfield.

"Congressman Richie Neal always debates his political opponents during election season and this year will be no different," said spokesman Matthew Fenlon in a statement. "In fact, Congressman Neal was the first candidate in this race to accept debates in Springfield and Pittsfield, both of which involve multiple media outlets and are already scheduled."

These debates include a pre-taped studio debate for WGBY public television that is scheduled to air on Aug. 20, and an AM radio debate that may include loose participation by local media outlets. The latter debate, at WBEC in Pittsfield, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 30, one week before the election, and will also air on WNAW 1230-AM in North Adams and 860-AM/94.1-FM in Great Barrington, all part of the Berkshire Vox Radio Group. 

Nuciforo and Shein, both from the Berkshires, have challenged Neal during the campaign to commit to a debate schedule since early July, and questioned why he has not accepted several offered invitations. 

In mid-January, iBerkshires extended an invitation to the three candidates to participate in a debate to be held in Pittsfield, which would be open to the public and media as well as streamed online, and therefore potentially accessible to more residents throughout the entire district than any other media broadcast area. 

By Jan. 23, both Shein and Nuciforo had responded affirmatively to these invitations. 

Following several follow up emails and phone calls to Neal's office over the four months, iBerkshires received word from Neal's campaign on June 2 that it was "currently receiving many debate requests and will be back in touch as we finalize the Congressman's scheduled for the summer." Continued queries in late June and through July received similar responses.

Invitations for a planned debate Aug. 27 organized by the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television at Berkshire Community College initially sent out in May never received a response, according to Gazette editor Jonathan Levine.

"I think Neal would prefer to debate at 7:45 at night, on Sept. 6," Shein told iBerkshires last month with regards to the candidate's lack of clear response to debate requests. 

"If Congressman Neal believes so strongly in the importance of debating, then why has he declined the majority of debates?" asked Nuciforo, who sent a letter challenging Neal to commit to a debate schedule in early July.

Neal's campaign disputed this Wednesday, pointing to a misunderstanding over the logistics of the scheduled WBEC debate on Aug. 30. Fenlon told iBerkshires that sometime after its debate request, it received one from WBEC, which it accepted on the understanding that the other local media outlets who had proposed debates would be included.

"They gave us the impression that they had already worked it out with everyone," said Fenlon.

It was only after controversy had already erupted in local press Wednesday, however, that announcement of this debate was sent to those media outlets, in a mid-day release from WBEC's Larry Kratka. According to the Kratka, the debate will feature some measure of involvement by some local media organizations, in that it will be recorded and aired sometime later on PCTV, and feature some questions by iBerkshires Editor Tammy Daniels.

"We've had no communication whatsoever from Congressman Neal's office," said Levine. The Gazette will not be covering the radio event, he said, as the Thursday, Aug. 30, timing of the event makes it impractical to cover for a paper that comes out on Thursday.

"Thursday night before an election is basically pointless for the purposes of any weekly newspaper," said Levine. 

Fenlon declined to comment on any of the other debate requests around the district, beyond the official statement above. These include invitations from WWLP22-News, Westfield News Group, and New England Public Radio. He also declined to speculate on why Rep. Neal had agreed only to two closed-studio interviews, but did say the congressman will be making additional public appearances with opportunities for questions over the next month.

"I'm a little disappointed that there's no debate open to the public," Levine, who has been responsible for most of the major local political debates for Pittsfield and Berkshire area-wide elections in recent decades. "I always think candidates should do something where people can come in person and see them."

Editor's Note: The Berkshire News Network has frequently included us in its  local election debates and we have shared access to those we have hosted with the radio network.

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Berkshire News Network Hosting Primary Debates
Berkshire News Network On: 09:38PM / Wednesday August 08, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Vox Berkshire Radio Group's Berkshire News Network will host two important election debates at the end of August.

Larry Kratka, news director of the radio group, announced on Wednesday that the network will hold two hourlong debates for candidates for Middle Berkshire register of deeds and for the 1st Massachusetts congressional district. Both debates are in advance of the Sept. 6 Democratic primary that will essentially determine the winner of the general election in November.

The first debate will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 29, on "News/Talk" AM-1420 WBEC from 11 to noon between the three candidates for the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds: Patsy Harris, Jody Phillips and Scott Pignatelli.

Kratka will moderate and questions will be posed to the candidates by Berkshire News Network newsman Tom Conklin and Tammy Daniels from The debate will be rebroadcast on Friday, Aug. 31, at 9 a.m. on 860-AM/94.1-FM WSBS in Great Barrington. This debate will also be recorded by PCTV for playback before the primary.
On Thursday, Aug. 30, Vox radio stations AM-1420 WBEC in Pittsfield, AM-1230 WNAW in North Adams and 860-AM/94.1-FM in Great Barrington will host the last debate between the three congressional candidates for the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District. 

Richard E. Neal of Springfield, currently U.S. representative for the 2nd Mass District; Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield, Middle Berkshire register of deeds; and Bill Shein of Alford, a political activist and writer, will face each other in a 60-minute primetime debate from 6 to 7 p.m. The simulcast debate will cover all of Berkshire County and originate from the flagship station, AM-1420 WBEC in Pittsfield and be broadcast on 860-AM/94.1-FM WSBS in Great Barrington and 1230-AM WNAW in North Adams.

Kratka will moderate and questions will be posed to the candidates by Tom Conklin and Tammy Daniels from The congressional debate also will be recorded by PCTV for playback before the Sept. 6 election.

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Teachers Associations Endorse Neal For Congress
Neal Campaign On: 11:56AM / Tuesday August 07, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.  — The two teacher unions serving Massachusetts  — American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts and Massachusetts Teachers Association  — have both endorsed Richard E. Neal, U.S. representative for the 2nd Mass District, for re-election to Congress.

"I am honored to once again receive the endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Teachers Association," said Neal, who is running in the newly redrawn 1st Mass District. "As a longtime teacher and member of the MTA, I know firsthand the joys and challenges that come with the classroom. We all know children are our future and we can thank teachers for instilling academics and life lessons in our next generation of leaders."

"We are recommending Congressman Neal because of his deep and lasting commitment to students and public education," said Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. "Because of his background as a teacher, he understands the issues that educators face each day. Congressman Neal can be counted on to do what is best for our students and for our public schools, colleges and universities."

"Congressman Neal is a strong supporter of quality education for all public school students," said Tom Gosnold, president of AFT Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has 107,000 members statewide, coming from more than 400 local affiliates.

American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, represents 1.5 million members nationwide, including 25,000 in Massachusetts. In addition to teachers, members include support personnel, bus drivers, custodians, and secretaries.

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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.

Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

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

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