Clarksburg Ballot Sees No Races This Year
Staff Reports On: 10:50PM / Tuesday May 06, 2014 ||
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Selectmen Chairwoman Lily Kuzia has decided not to stand for election as selectman.
The veteran selectman said she returned nomination papers because she did not want to leave the town hanging. But when she learned that there were candidates for both board seats, she removed her name from the ballot.
"I've been doing this for 12 years," she said. "My children didn't want me to [run again]."
Kuzia will remain with the Senior Center and on the advisory board for Elder Services of Berkshire County.
"The Senior Center is my first love," she said.
Running unopposed for Kuzia's three-year seat is Debra LeFave, former board chairman who stepped down two years ago to apply for the town administrator's post.
William Schrade is running unopposed for the final two years of former Selectman Carl McKinney, who also stepped down to apply for town administrator.
All other offices are also unopposed: Ernest Dix, tree warden, one year; Bryan Tanner, moderator, one year; Linda Hurbut, library trustee, three years; Joseph Bushika, War Memorial trustee, three years; Jeffrey Levanos, School Committee, three years; and Audrey Matys, Planning Board, five years.
There is no candidate on the ballot for a three-year seat on the Board of Health.
The last day to register to vote in the town election is Wednesday, May 7. Special voter registration hours will be held on Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall.
The annual town election will be held on Tuesday, May 27. The polls will be open from noon to 7 p.m. at the Clarksburg Senior Center.
Any questions on registration, contact Town Clerk Carol Jammalo at 413-663-8255 or ClarksburgTClerk@gmail.com.
Astorino, Ciskowski Win Seats on Cheshire Selectmen
By Jack Guerino On: 08:19PM / Tuesday May 06, 2014 ||
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Incumbent Paul Astorino will hold his selectman's seat and Robert Ciskowski will join him for a one year term.
Astorino defeated political newcomer Richard Scholz by narrow victory of 47 votes. Astorino had 288 votes and Scholz had 241.
Scholz plans to run again in 2016.
"I will continue my effort to expand the select board to five, change the culture of town government, and run for a three-year term in 2016," Scholz said.
Cheshire native and former Selectman Robert Ciskowski defeated James Boyle and Karmen Field-Mitchell with 275 votes, more than half of all the votes cast in the race. Boyle garnered 164 and Field-Mitchell had 86.
Ciskowski will hold the chair for one year and replace the retired Selectwoman Gloria Lewis.
Michael Biagini Jr. won a two-year position on the Board of Health and defeated James Geary, 273-244.
Biagini’s son, Michael Biagini, ran for water commissioner, but was defeated by Rick Gurney 304-217.
The total number of registered voters was 2,245 and 544 registered voters, or 24 percent, cast ballots.
Attorney General Candidate Shares Views in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever On: 01:49PM / Tuesday May 06, 2014 ||
AG candidate Maura Healey met with voters on Saturday in Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Maura Healey has already overseen half of the attorney general's office. Now, she wants to take it all over.
With Attorney General Martha Coakley now seeking election as governor, Healey has launched a campaign to replace her.
Currently overseeing the attorney general's public protection and business and labor bureaus, the Democrat says she knows the "power and possibilities" the office has to make positive impacts in people's lives.
"I know how important it is for Massachusetts to have an attorney general's office that is nation leading, that leads the nation in standing up for civil rights and giving a voice to those who are vulnerable," Healey told members of the Berkshire Brigades on Saturday at Dottie's Coffee Lounge.
"And in leading the nation in protecting consumers and leading the nation in thinking about smart approaches to criminal justice reform, public safety and drug addiction."
Healey grew up in Hampton Falls, N.H., and moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard, where she received her undergraduate degree in government. She is the oldest of five siblings with her mother being a school nurse and father a high school teacher.
After graduating, she went overseas to play professional basketball. She returned to Massachusetts and received her law degree from Northeastern University.
Healey worked for a federal judge overseeing the cleanup of Boston Harbor before becoming a litigator at a private law firm.
"I jumped at the chance seven years ago to take a 70 percent pay cut and join the attorney general's office as chief of the civil rights division. And I saw, over the last several years, that there is no office where you can have a greater impact on people's lives," she said.
One of her largest accomplishments in the office was successfully fighting against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), she said. At the time, the president and U.S. Department of Justice were defending the law.
"To me it was a matter of fairness," she said, adding a story about how a couple wanted to be buried together in a state veterans cemetery but were being blocked by the government.
She also took on predatory lenders, putting together a litigation team to go after banks participating in those practices. Healey was the first in the nation to bring a civil rights case against a lender and she also started the Home Court program, which used settlement funds to help residents modify their mortgages.
One of her first issues she tackled in the attorney's general office was writing the buffer zone law regarding access for women to abortion clinics. That law survived supreme court challenges. She has challenged laws that allow physicians to deny contraceptive care to patients.
And she says there is a lot more she can do if elected. Healey wants to "really tackle" the issue of drug abuse, which has become an epidemic across the state. She says there is a real shortage of beds for mental health and addiction treatment programs.
State Sen. Benjamin Downing was on hand to hear about Healey's campaign.
"Using settlement proceeds from the office — when we sue pharmaceutical companies and others — I want those resources to go to beefing up services for those kind of treatments and care," she said.
From the office, she says she will also "bring people together" to do a better job at prescription drug monitoring.
That stance earned her the endorsements of the mayors of Holyoke and Northampton and Hampshire County Sheriff Robert Garvey on Tuesday.
She also vowed to go after the growing for-profit schools market that "pocket" federal student loans but do not provide an education that gives students the tools for jobs.
"It is predatory and it is wrong," she said.
Healey also wants to advocate for a revamping of the state's criminal justice system. She says the state needs to provide more job training, life skills training and counseling to those in jail so that they don't come back. Meanwhile, on "the front end," there needs to be more options than jail. She wants courts to identify individuals who are in danger of continually going through the court system and provide drug treatment and other programs to stop the slide.
"I think you have a real opportunity to convene and lead that conversation," she said.
Entering the race in October, when she resigned from the attorney general's office, Healey says she wants "to be the people's point guard."
"I've been in that office. I've seen the power and the possibility of that office. In my mind it was a very easy decision because I am so passionate about this and so committed to building on the success of that office," she said, and boasts of being the only candidate who has worked in the office. "I think Massachusetts can lead on all of these issues."
She has gained support from state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield.
"When it comes to equal rights, when it comes to consumer protection, when it comes to making sure everybody in the commonwealth is treated fairly, the office of attorney general really leads that fight. So it is important to pay attention to all of the offices that are being fought for this year," Farley-Bouvier said. "I'm supporting Maura because she's done the job. She is a lawyer. She has run about 50 percent of the attorney general's office for about seven years."
Healey is vying for the Democratic nomination with former state Sen. Warren Tolman of Watertown, an attorney and former gubernatorial candidate, and champion of the clean elections law.
John Miller of Winchester, an attorney and expert on construction law and public infrastructure contracting, is the Republican candidate.
Snoonian, Rice Cruise to Victory in Adams Election
By Jack Guerino On: 09:08PM / Monday May 05, 2014 ||
Supporters of candidates running for local office were parked along the sidewalk near the town garage on Monday.
ADAMS, Mass. — Veteran Selectman Michael Ouellette lost his seat on the board on Monday night to newcomer Jeffrey Snoonian.
The count was 711-450, or 61 percent of the vote.
Snoonian's a newcomer not only to politics but to much of Adams. A longtime visitor to the area, he grew up in the east end of the state and only recently moved permanently to the Mother Town.
Despite that, the construction contractor has grown deep enough roots in the community to rack up sizeable support from a number of longtime residents - and to sweep to victory with 261 votes.
Snoonian was not at the polling station at the town garage when the vote tallies were read and could not be immediately reached for comment.
"I am excited I love Adams and I think it has unlimited potential," said Snoonian, when reached on Tuesday. "I just think it needs someone to champion it a little more and to be out there and a little more aggressive an enthusiastic."
Ouellette had squeaked to victory three years ago with 22 votes over Richard Blanchard, who has since won a seat, but couldn't get enough to support this time around. He left the polling station as the vote counts were read off and it became apparent he wouldn't be returning to the board.
The former GE engineer first won a seat on the board in 2008, beating out two others to fill the seat being vacated by Myra Wilk.
Kelly Rice won the treasurer-collector's office over Melissa McGovern-Wandrei by 666-477. McGovern-Wandrei, the appointed treasurer-collector in Clarksburg, had hoped her experience would win the day but Rice, a 30-year resident of the town and a longtime employee in the public schools and Town Hall, easily won by 189 votes.
"I am ready to start at 8:30 tomorrow morning after I get sworn in," said Rice, who has been working in the office of community development.
She will serve out the two years left on the three-year treasurer-collector term.
In the only other race on the ballot, George Haddad handily beat out Dennis A. Gajda by a vote of 748-366 for the three-year seat on the Board of Assessors being vacated by Lynn D. Avery.
"I am glad to serve the town of Adams again and I will do everything I can," said the former selectman. "I really appreciate the voters."
All other offices were unopposed.
Town Clerk Haley Meczywor said 1,171 of the town's 5,861 registered votered made it to the polls, or about 20 percent. That's on par with last year's election at 1,182 voters.
Three Vying for One-Year Selectman's Seat in Cheshire
By Jack Guerino On: 10:01PM / Sunday May 04, 2014 ||
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Voters will decide a three-way race for the one-year seat on the Board of Selectmen on Monday.
James M. Boyle, Robert S. Ciskowski and Karmen B. Field-Mitchell are running for the vacant seat.
Boyle, originally from Windsor, has been involved in politics and business throughout his life.
"I think a combination of my business experience and working in the community would bring a new light to the town of Cheshire," Boyle said.
He was a Pittsfield city councilor for eight years and chairman of the School Committee when living in the city in the 1990s. He also helped create the tourism council in Pittsfield.
"I worked on a multitude of different economic development items that I worked on in Pittsfield trying to bring in more industry and jobs in the city," he said.
He has a business administration degree and has taken courses leading to a master's in public administration. He said he was a business manager for a nonprofit agency for 11 years.
"I have the financial ability to look over budgets and try to see where we can save some money and just general operations of good government," Boyle said. "Plus with working in the city, you develop a lot of contacts and relationships that can, hopefully, benefit everybody in the town of Cheshire.”
Boyle said he would like to help bring Cheshire into the "new century."
"I think we have a stagnant economic base as far as growth," he said. "The costs of the school and government are both going up, and the actual value of the town is going down due to lower assets so we are forced to push increase the taxes."
Boyle said he would like to bring in new businesses to help lower the tax rate.
"We need to expand the tax base so we bring in some new kinds of business in good locations to bring the tax rate down," he said.
Boyle also said if elected, he would fight for more government transparency and have selectmen's minutes more available. He also said the selectmen's meetings should be televised.
"I think everyone should know exactly what’s going on," Boyle said. "These things need to be brought out into the open so people can know and discuss things, and people need to know about them so they are not caught by surprise."
Boyle sees many assets in Cheshire and explained that he would like to look into creating a new senior center and expanding on the library.
"We have great assets here, but I don't think we are using them as well as we could," he said.
Ciskowski isn't a newcomer to town government. The Cheshire native served on the Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Finance Committee, the Town Government Reorganization Committee and the Cheshire School Advisory Council in the 1980s.
"I think with my background on the town boards, I have a pretty good understanding of how government works, and I also understand how it doesn't work sometimes," Ciskowski said.
He also owned North Mountain Excavating,a construction business based in Cheshire.
Ciskowski said he decided to run for selectman because he doesn't believe town government is moving things forward.
"I really think I can contribute," he said. "We don't have to throw out all the old ideas because a lot of them are good, but I think we have to realize it is 2014."
He said many of the things he worked on during his term as a selectman remain incomplete.
"I have some things I was working on a dozen years ago as a selectman, and I just don't think too much progress has been made on some of the things that I was working on," Ciskowski said.
If elected, he said he would like to make government more transparent and publish selectman minutes.
"I'd like for people to be able to see the government process and not just the end result," he said. "I think open and transparent is stronger."
He said he would also like to see board bring the community together.
"We all share common goals here in Cheshire, and I think the selectmen can be the ones who bring people together and work together," he said. "I think I did that last time I was selectman, and I think that I can do it again."
Ciskowski sees the town's decreasing population as an economic problem.
"If there are less people on the street we still have to plow them, and if there are less people in the schools we still have to have the schools," he said. "I think responding to the population decline is an issue, and it's not really an issue Cheshire can solve by itself, it's a system problem."
Ciskowski said he had a great life growing up in Cheshire and would like to make sure future generations can have the same experience that he did.
"I'd like to extend all the good I experienced and make it available for the next generation because all the decisions we make today will influence what tomorrow is going to be," he said.
Cheshire native Field-Mitchell is new to politics, but has been active in the community.
Trained as a special education teacher, she also managed a Rite Aid Pharmacy. She later became a member of the Council on Aging and was heavily involved in the Senior Center.
Field-Mitchell said she would bring proficient people skills to the Board of Selectmen.
"I am able to talk to people and listen to people," she said.
She would like to help Cheshire progress, but in a responsible way.
“You just can't come in and bulldoze your way through; the Cheshire people won't allow it," she said. "We have to keep moving forward, but not at the speed of light."
Field-Mitchell said Cheshire has to be mindful of its older population, yet make it interesting for the younger generation.
"We have a nice mixture of country and class here, and a lot of people that move to Cheshire want that attitude and environment for their families because its family friendly," she said. "Yet we still understand that we need to progress in order to keep the young people interested in wanting to raise their families here."
Field-Mitchell sees the mixture of different people and attitudes in the town and she wants to be able to help and please everyone.
"I want to help the people," she said. "I want to help the seniors, the children, the animals, and help keep our town country with class."
She said she loves living in Cheshire and wants to maintain what makes it such a special place to live.
"I like Cheshire because it is still a small town, it's still country, it's still classy, and it's the heart of the Berkshires."
The election takes place Monday, May 5, from 9 to 7 at the Senior Center on School Street.
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Tuesday, Sept. 9
Voting is from 7 to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation is Aug. 20; only unenrolled voters may select which primary to vote in. More information on registering can be found here.
Candidates on the ballot in a race for their party nomination; all others on the ballot are unopposed
• Governor: Charles D. Baker & Mark R. Fisher
• Governor: Donald M. Berwick, Martha Coakley & Steven Grossman
• Lieutenant governor: Leland Cheung, Stephen J. Kerrigan & Michael E. Lake
• Attorney general: Maura Healey & Warren E. Tolman
• Treasurer: Thomas P. Conroy, Barry R. Finegold & Deborah B. Goldberg
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.
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