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Republican Herr To Challenge Markey for Senate
By Andy McKeever On: 06:08PM / Wednesday July 16, 2014
Brian Herr says he'll represent the people of Massachusetts, not the party that put him on the ballot. His campaign site is here.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 2010, Brian Herr said what he was supposed to say. He did what he was told to do.

But, he still lost the race for U.S. Senate.

This time, Herr isn't going to let the political insiders and strategists run his campaign.
 
"When you declare and you are reasonably viable and credible as a candidate for U.S. Congress, a lot of people put their fingers into your campaign, in you. They try to control you and mold you and they try to steer you," Herr said.
 
"I let some of that go on in 2010 and I shouldn't have."
 
The Hopkinton Republican says he learned a valuable lesson as he again vies for a seat in Congress.
 
Herr is challenging Democrat Edward Markey, who won the U.S. Senate seat in a special election last year to replace now Secretary of State John Kerry.
 
"I learned what to do. I learned what not to do and we're applying those lessons to this race," Herr told the Berkshire County Republicans on Tuesday.
 
Herr says he'll be speaking from his own experience and beliefs as he builds a campaign. He says there is a new way to govern and he is the leader to do it.
 
"A lot of people in politics today will just tell you what is wrong with the other side. They'll complain and they'll always be looking in the rearview mirror," Herr said. 
 
As a selectman in Hopkinton, Herr said his board implemented new rules when the town faced financial troubles. A hiring freeze put in place and a new procedure forcing department heads to justify their funding was put in place. That focus on not taxing the citizens turned into excess levy capacity, leading to an underride this past spring when voters reduced Hopkinton's levy capacity by $1.25 million.
 
As the economy turned around, Herr said there was a need for more firefighters, an increase in service voters were more willing to provide.
 
"I believe in government but only when it is managed well," Herr said.
 
It is that type of "running government like a business" that Herr says he'll bring to Washington, D.C. He has spent nearly 30 years in the private sector focused mostly on commercial construction. Most recently, he is an account executive at WESCO Distribution, a company supplying industrial electronics. 
 
"I get the real world we are all in. I get what it is like to pay people. I know what it is like to hire," Herr said. "Jobs come from understanding the private sector."
 
The University of Pittsburgh graduate moved the Massachusetts after college to work at Westinghouse. He has a wife and five kids and is serving his second term as a Hopkinton selectman.
 
"We have partisan elections by law. So the three times I've been elected, it said Brian Herr and Republican next to my name. I've always run as a Republican in a small town here in Massachusetts and I've won. I've won by building a coalition of voters in the community," Herr said.
 
"You have to build a coalition to win. I've had success doing that and that's what I am doing in this campaign for U.S. Senate."
 
That strategy has given him optimism in this campaign. However, he has so far flown under the radar in the political sphere. Some reports say he lacks the signatures to get on the ballot. Herr says that is exactly how he wants it.
 
"We are the raging underdog. I get it, but I am not crazy. We can win it. We are building a foundation, an organization, a brand that post-Labor Day, we will catch fire," Herr said. "Don't worry about the fact that you've never heard my name. Don't panic. Don't think there is no chance because there is."
 
When the campaign does "catch fire" Herr told his fellow Republicans that even they won't like what he has to say all of the time. That is because he isn't following the party lines like he did before.
 
"When you hear my name and see reports in the media, you will scratch your head a couple of times and think 'why would he say that, that's not what I think. That is not necessarily how I feel.' It is what I believe as a person and not because there is someone telling me what to say," Herr said.
 
Herr met with local Republicans at Zucco's Restaurant in Pittsfield on Tuesday.
And that is also how Herr says he'll represent the people of Massachusetts. 
 
"I don't believe in harsh partisan squabbles. I don't believe in behaving like a 2-year old. I don't blame the other side," Herr said. "I don't play the blame game.
 
"I will go to represent the people of Massachusetts, not the Republican party."
 
Particularly, he is looking at Washington as being full of "dysfunction" and wants to be elected to solve problems. One of the key issues Herr sees is repealing the federal Affordable Care Act in favor of states' making their own decisions.
 
"In Massachusetts, we had a process and a plan that we were working on and it got derailed," Herr said.
 
"We made the decision. You may not agree with it but we, collectively, made the decision a few years back for universal health care in Massachusetts. I support that. It is a Massachusetts issue, not a national one."
 
Immigration, too, is taking a heated role in the debates in Washington and Herr, whose parents emigrated to the States, says there needs to be a "reasonable" reform of the program. He said the "crisis of the moment" shouldn't dictate policy but reform should happen to give a path to citizenship while keeping illegal immigrants out.
 
"Today, the process manages the officials. It should be the exact opposite. In any organization — whether it be a media outlet, a business or General Dynamics — the management has to manage the process. The leaders have to manage the process. But right now, the situation with immigration in America, the situation is dictating what happens," Herr said.
 
Herr also says a balanced budget amendment and term limits would dramatically change the political landscape.
 
"I believe term limits will create a far different mindset for elected officials. If you know that you are going home in a few years to live in the world you are creating. If you know you are going home to operate a business that has to operate under the rules and regulations you are creating, you will probably think a little more about what you are doing," Herr said.
 
Herr is the only Republican in the race so far. He has partnered with Mass Victory, a Republican organization representing all of GOP campaigns, to lay down his campaign fundraising and organizing strategies.


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Lake Focused on Collaboration in Lieutenant Governor Campaign
By Andy McKeever On: 03:18AM / Friday July 11, 2014
Mike Lake was back in the Berkshires on Tuesday, meeting with residents at Dottie's Coffee Lounge.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Economic development doesn't adhere to borders.

If elected lieutenant governor, Mike Lake says he'll bring all communities together to work toward the common, regional goal.

Lake is the founder and CEO of Leading Cities, a nonprofit organization doing just that — bringing leaders from all over the globe together to solve problems.
 
Through summits and meeting, the organization identifies problems and shares solutions, focuses on spurring economic development such as trade agreements among municipalities and pushing for further intergovernmental cooperation.
 
"We partner with municipal governments, with institutions, private sector, and academia and non-profits, to get everybody in and tackle the problems of the 21st century. It is this experience that I see the real value in the lieutenant governor's office, to be a partner with our cities and towns," Lake said in an interview Tuesday morning at Dottie's Coffee Lounge.
 
"The challenges of the 21st century do not know man-made borders. They do not understand city limits and town lines. Our challenges transgress all of that and we need somebody who is working with our municipal leaders to tackle them."
 
After six years of growing that organization, Lake is hoping to do that on the statewide level. While all three lieutenant governor candidates are talking about experience, Lake say he has the "right experience" for "right now." 
 
"I am running because everybody should have access to opportunities. I was the son of a single mother and had the opportunity of a public education, became the first of my family to go to college and then I was appointed to the White House," Lake said. 
 
"Every opportunity I was given was because the community believed in me and gave me a chance. In part, it is about giving back and in part because I believe a kid in the Berkshires should have the same opportunities as Boston; that every corner of Massachusetts has jobs and is putting people back to work, has a safe community, has an education system to be proud of, and that we are supporting small businesses."
 
The Melrose native's interest in public service started in when he was elected to shadow the mayor in high school. Then he fielded a call from a women who needed a dentist appoint. He arranged the appointment. That's when he saw how the community had helped him and how he could help the community.
 
"A public servant is somebody in the community that anybody can come to at any time for any reason," Lake said. 
 
Political science became one of five majors that Lake took at Northeastern University — finance, communications, entrepreneurship and information management rounded out his resume.
 
"My claim to fame is that I am the first person in Massachusetts history to complete five majors simultaneously, which is just a demonstration of how cheap I really am. I wanted to get every penny's worth and certainly did that," Lake said with a laugh.
 
At Northeastern, he met former Gov. Michael Dukakis, who became a mentor and who has now endorsed the campaign.
 
"He governed for all of Massachusetts. It wasn't just about investing in Boston," Lake said of Dukakis. "First and foremost, he is a role model. He's been a mentor and now I'd call him a political adviser. He has more experience and history than anybody else in the state at this point."
 
The biggest lesson he took was working collaboratively, Lake said. Dukakis pulled all the stakeholders together to find solutions to problem, he didn't just put policies in place, Lake said.
 
After graduation Lake was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as special assistant to White House operations, running the president's office.
 
"It gave me the opportunity to work with everybody and see how everything was working together. To have that type of insight at that age is something I'll never forget and it shaped me," he said.
 
After Clinton's term ended, Lake then was deputy finance director in the Midwest for John Kerry's presidential campaign. Then he was director of development for the United Way, where he focused on homelessness, before starting Leading Cities.
 
Leading Cities, he says, is "pioneering" the way governments work together. Together cities are sharing information with how to combat issues and developing agreements to help each other's economy — such as one he crafted with Catalonia, Spain, and Massachusetts.
 
"We need to think in a regional perspective. That is why the equity of all regions of the commonwealth is so important to me," Lake said. "Frankly, it is exactly the type of leadership we need in the 21st century."
 
If elected, Lake says he wants his first task to be heading a committee to review regulations. He pointed to laws on the books that prevent permits for hair salons to be ineffective for 30 days if sold or a recently reversed regulation on fishermen requiring them to count their catch twice as regulations that are out of date.
 
"We have the opportunity to make business a little easier for that small business owner. I would like the next governor to create and appoint me chair of a regulation review committee so we can work with the secretary of economic development and housing to identify regulations that need to be revisited," Lake said.
 
But it isn't just about making business easier; it is supporting the businesses as well. 
 
"Three sawmills in Massachusetts shut down last year. For some communities, that is your economy, whether it is the mill itself or all of the businesses indirectly related. The fact of the matter is that of all the wood products we use in Massachusetts, only 2 percent of the wood is sourced in Massachusetts," Lake said. "We have a tremendous multiplier effect when we support local business."
 
He said doing procurement for the White House, he always focused on finding the local vendor and Massachusetts and those who contract with the state need to do the same thing.
 
Lake says he doesn't want to just create jobs, but rather jobs that pay a living wage. He supports the state raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour.
 
"As the minimum wage stood, it would take you almost four full-time minimum wage jobs to afford to live in Massachusetts. Nobody can work 160 out of 180 hours in a week," Lake said. "Twenty-nine percent of the 4,000 plus homeless families that we have in Massachusetts have a working adult. Your family should not be moving from shelter to shelter or living in a motel if you have a working parent."
 
He also supports a constitutional amendment to implement a progressive tax system.
 
Some of his other priorities include boosting the state's investment in education including implementing a universal preschool program. He wants to work with cities and towns on security issues and he believes the state needs to continue digging into what he calls a "backlog" of delayed infrastructure projects.
 
Lake says high speed rail in the Northeast is something he'd be advocating for and he would be able to work with the governor's of other states to sort it out.
 
"It is very difficult to get all of the Northeast governors on board because they have to manage the day-to-day operations of their state. So this is where the No. 2s can step in. We can work collaboratively on a proposal we can take to our governors to approve and then the federal government to make high speed rail a reality," he said.
 
Lake entered the campaign for lieutenant governor 18 months ago. He is seeking the seat left by Timothy Murray against Steve Kerrigan and Leland Cheung for the Democratic nomination. Lake is on the ballot after reeling in 35 percent of delegate votes at the Democratic Convention, which was just two percent shy of the leader Kerrigan.
 
"At this point, we got through the convention. We were outspent 4:1 and we emerged basically in a virtual tie. It was a huge victory for not just our campaign but or grassroots organizing," Lake said of the campaign.
 
Whichever candidate wins the primary will be partnered with the winning gubernatorial candidate on the Democratic ticket. Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley and Donald Berwick are the three candidates still in contention or that office on the Democratic side. 
 
Evan Falchuk is running an independent campaign and named Angus Jennings as his running mate. Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito will be the Republican ticket.
 
The state primary is Tuesday, Sept. 9.


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Kerrigan Boasting Experience In Bid For Lt. Gov.
By Andy McKeever On: 06:30PM / Monday June 30, 2014

Steve Kerrigan ate lunch with his dog Cooper at the Marketplace Cafe on North Street in Pittsfield on Friday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Steve Kerrigan remembers being on the phone with former Mayor Gerald Doyle trying to figure out how to give the city a chance to survive its largest economic collapse — the closure of General Electric.
 
"We spent two years working with the EPA, the city, state DEP and with General Electric to make sure that we pumped the brakes a little bit and thought about what was right for the community, the environment, and economic growth," Kerrigan said during an interview on Friday.
 
"We came up with the consent decree that we signed. That allows for the development at the G.E. facility that PEDA is working on now. Imagine if we hadn't done that. There would be double-lined fencing around that whole facility and God only knows what would happen."
 
If G.E. had just walked away, Kerrigan said, there wouldn't have been a cleanup and the city wouldn't have control over what is known as the William Stanley Business Park. Kerrigan was a legislative aid for the U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy then and he says "we got [G.E] to the table and kept them there."
 
It was also in the 1990s when word spread that Crane & Co. was about to lose the contract to make U.S. currency. Kerrigan was called in to help negotiate that contract and keep the money flowing in Dalton. He worked with Soldier On to get funding for that start up and he was part of the team putting together the federal appropriation to redevelop the Colonial Theater.
 
Now, Kerrigan is pointing to his career bringing people together both on the federal level for Kennedy, on the state level for former Attorney General Tom Reilly and on the municipal level as a finance committee and board of selectmen member in Lancaster as why voters should elect him as lieutenant governor.
 
"I have spent 25 years working as a local elected official — not studying local governments — in my town, facing my family and friends to talk about the issues that are important to them and prioritizing budgets in a real, strong way," Kerrigan said. 
 
"I've worked all across Massachusetts and the country under Sen. Kennedy fighting to raise the minimum wage in the 90s — not just when it was a ballot initiative and we knew it was going to get passed. We fought for years on the federal level. We fought for funding like here with the Colonial Theater so we can rehab beautiful buildings like that."
 
Outside of that, Kerrigan founded two nonprofit organizations, headed the Boston Democratic National Convention, served on two inaugurations for President Barack Obama and was the CEO of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
 
"I am the only candidate with local, state, federal experience and experience in the nonprofit world. I can bring those experiences together and bring folks to the table to really help make government work again," Kerrigan said.
 
After being behind the scenes for most of his career, this year he launched a bid to be the next lieutenant governor. He has stormed out of the gates and won the Democratic convention - reeling in support from more than one-third of the delegates at the Democratic convention. 
 
Now, he hopes to continue the momentum and win the Democratic nomination to be on the ticket.
 
"We won the convention and it felt great. This is my first time running for office so winning the convention was a real sign that the work we've been doing, the grassroots organizing we'd been doing across the commonwealth, paid off. It was a real charge for the team," Kerrigan said. 
 
Heading into the convention, he had 10 mayoral endorsements, four sheriffs and numerous legislators — including state Sen. Benjamin Downing. Kerrigan says that shows that he will be one to fight for the cities and towns.
 
"They know they'll have a partner in me," Kerrigan said of officials on the municipal level.
 
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He says he will work "in partnership" with the Democratic nominee to craft an agenda for the entire state. And immediately that needs to include looking at tax incentive programs and agency operations to start showing the taxpayer "we have respect for the sacrifices they make every day in paying their taxes."
 
Local aid and Chapter 70 school funding are of most concern for Kerrigan, who says he knows how important those funds are on the local level. 
 
"Our formula for school funding has only been looked at three times since education reform was done 21-years ago and it was supposed to be looked at every two years. We need to take a long look at that and make sure the cities and towns are getting the resources they need," Kerrigan said, when asked what his primary goal would be once elected.
 
Without being the top name on the ticket, Kerrigan says the person means more. While the governor's seat outlines the vision, the lieutenant governor position both helps lay out that agenda but also makes sure that vision is being fulfilled, Kerrigan said.
 
"For me, this isn't about promises or pledges. This is about results and getting things done. It has never been about showboating for me. It has been about finding a problem, tackling it, getting the right folks in the room and moving our commonwealth forward," he said. "I don't care if the job title is 'chief cook and bottle washer' as long as I get a chance to make a real difference in people's lives."
 
He later added, "there are great ideas and promises out there for what folks hope to do. I've done them."
 
All three Democratic governor's are "far better" than the Republic Charlie Baker will be, Kerrigan said. And he feels he will work with with whichever Democrat heads the ticket.
 
And for Berkshire voters, he adds that both Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito are from the eastern part of the state, so the Democrats would be better served by someone who knows the whole state.
 
"I believe the commonwealth needs a lieutenant governor who understands the issues of Western and Central mass," Kerrigan said.
 
Kerrigan is vying for the Democratic position against Melrose-native Mike Lake; and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung. 
 
One of those three candidates will be paired with the gubernatorial candidate on the Democratic ticket. Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley and Donald Berwick are the three candidates still in contention or that office on the Democratic side. 
 


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Lanesborough Re-elects Incumbents
By Andy McKeever On: 02:12PM / Wednesday June 18, 2014
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — With a ballot full of incumbents running uncontested, a small turnout reelected eight town officials.
 
Only 140 of the town's 2,095 registered voters made it to the polls on Tuesday. But, that was enough. 
 
Those voters put Henry Sayers back on the Board of Selectmen; Amy Szczepaniak as a cemetery trustee; Christine Galib on the Finance Committee; Regina Dilego on the School Committee; Ronald Tinkham on the Planning Board; Robert Reilly as moderator and Jane Stevens and Prudence Barton as library trustees.
 
A seat on both the Planning Board and Finance Committee went with no candidates.
 
Three Sewer Commission seats and a tree warden position was listed on the ballot but with no candidates. Town meeting had already approved turning those positions into appointed, so any votes there were irrelevant. 
 
The number of ballots was dramatically lower than when 22 percent of the voters went to the polls for the special election in the fall. That election had only one race for the Board of Selectmen but drew a lot of interest. In that election, Sayers narrowly defeated Barbara Hassan.
 
For that race campaign signs were displayed throughout the town and debates and campaigns were held leading up to the race. On Tuesday, only Sayers could be seen campaigning as he stood at town hall for the duration of the eight hours of polling.


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Attorney General Candidate Miller Calls For Professionalism, Not Politics
By Andy McKeever On: 10:00PM / Tuesday June 17, 2014

John Miller says the attorney general's job is not a political one.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Attorney General Candidate John Miller says it is time to vote for the person, not the politics.
 
Miller has launched a campaign for the attorney general's office. He will be on the ticket as a Republican but he says that shouldn't and won't matter. What matters, he said, is that he has the skills and experience to do the job.
 
"Fundamentally it is not a political job. The law in this state is built on the Massachusetts constitution. On top of that, our statutes. And, on the side, 300 years of common law decided by our courts. The basic job of the attorney general is to protect that law," Miller said. 
 
The 61-year-old has spent his last 36 years as a construction attorney working with public contracts. He knows procurement laws and he has seen how state contracts are awarded.
 
And he says he knows how to make sure the state's money goes to where it should be going.
 
"Every day I will find out how to make it increasingly dangerous to steal from the state," Miller told the Berkshire County Republicans during a dinner Tuesday night in Pittsfield.
 
In both the social programs and then on the contractual side, Miller said he will organize and layer the state's databases to help root out mistakes or malpractice in payments and funding.
 
"This isn't about malevolence or evil. This is just an administrative improvement," Miller said. "You have to start looking systematically."
 
Miller says he will also be "a real partner" with the district attorneys and sheriff departments. And, he promises that he will handle the office independently and not politically.
 
"I just think that we are not paying attention at this job, at this time. It is a professional approach to this job [I am bringing], not a political one," Miller said.
 
While he promises the independent nature, Miller is running on the Republican ticket. He says he always been a Republican so it "was natural" to take their nomination.
 
Now living in Winchester, Miller grew up in New Britain, Conn., before attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After earning his master's degree, he went to Boston University for his law degree. He returned to MIT at the age of 40 to finish up a doctorate.
 
"My parents dropped me off when I was 17 at MIT and I have a civil engineering degree, master's degree and then I went to law school. When happens when you put civil engineering with law school, what pops out is a construction lawyer," Miller said. 
 
"I've been a construction lawyer for 36 years, which has taken me into public contracts. My wheelhouse, most of my professional life, has been in state contracts."
 
Since 1977 he has worked in a few law firms focused on construction. He stopped for 10 years to teach at MIT before going back to practicing at Patton Boggs, LLP. 
 
"I have the experience and the skills. I'm 61 and it is time to give back. I've had a great run as a public contracts lawyer but I think it is time," he said of why he decided to run for his first political office. "The ship of the state is leaking a little bit and I think I have some skills I can contribute."
 
Miller launched his campaign for the seat in March and is the only Republican candidate. The seat will be open because current Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for governor. The Democrats will be holding a primary between Warren Tolman and Maura Healy to pick their nominee.
 
Miller says he has no plans for any officer higher than attorney general and just wants to do the job as the state's attorney.
 
"I think we need someone to pay attention. I think in order to be a good lawyer you have to remember who the client is and that the client's interest is paramount," Miller said.


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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Primary
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

Republican
  Governor: Charles D. Baker & Mark R. Fisher

Democratic
  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
 

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.

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