Pam Malumphy responds to the cheers of her supporters on the steps of Pittsfield City Hall on Thursday. The former councilor is one of nine candidates challenging Mayor James M. Ruberto.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a small but enthusiastic audience cheering her on, Patricia "Pam" Malumphy stood on the symbolic steps of City Hall to officially launch her campaign.
Malumphy will have to make it through a preliminary election in September against up to nine other candidates, including three-term Mayor James M. Ruberto.
"The real election to some extent is going to be in the primary," said Malumphy, who stressed crime, jobs, cost cutting and the controversial debate over the fate of the city's two high schools as "tipping issues" that thrust her into the election fray.
The former city councilor said she'd been mulling a run at mayor since the end of last year. A lot of lingering issues — the ongoing expansion of Pittsfield Municipal Airport, the bogged-down Pittsfield Economic Development Authority along with the school controversy — need to be prioritized, she said. "I feel we need some closure."
But it was crime, schools and economics that tipped the scales when weighing her decision.
"I think that we've seen in the city over the last several months a dramatic increase in crime. I don't think this is just a Police Department issue ... I think the Police Department in Pittsfield is fabulous and it's not just a [district attorney] issue," she told the gathering at high noon, her mother, Dorothy Carder at her side. "This is really a community issue ... We need a very loud, vocal, active advocate in City Hall as mayor leading the community to say this, 'we will not tolerate this, this kind of behavior in Pittsfield is unacceptable.'"
Malumphy also came down strongly on renovating both of the city's high schools rather than consolidating on a new single high school. The issue has been debated for several years, with no real consensus reached.
"We have two fabulous schools now," said the Taconic High School graduate. Building a new school would burden a city already nearing its Proposition 2 1/2 levy limit and its elderly population, she said.
Malumphy has been regional director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development for three years. She points to her experience in working with businesses large and small as giving her an understanding of the needs of local business and of job creation. Increases in taxes within the city have "been a particular burden put on the businesses in Pittsfield."
She also has ideas on cutting the city's budget, such as returning currently outsourced legal and personnel services back under City Hall's roof.
Malumphy's background includes teaching, marketing, business development and fundraising, much of that with nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Taconic High School in 1976 and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1980; she also holds a master's degree in education.
She was swept into local government on the WHEN wave in 2003. The Women Helping Empower Neighborhoods political action committee was sparked by perceived uncivil behavior on the male-dominated City Council; the group proved to be a political powerhouse. After less than two years as an at-large councilor, Malumphy dared for higher office but ran third in the Democratic primary to replace former Rep. Peter Larkin (former City Solicitor Christopher N. Speranzo won the primary and the election). That November, she lost her at-large seat by 40 votes.
Malumphy's gearing up for the sprint to the preliminary. She was the seventh candidate to be officially placed on the ballot after submitting her signatures to the city clerk's office at 10 a.m. today. And she's embracing new media to get her message out.
"I'm also on Facebook which is a sentence I never thought I'd hear myself say," she said. "I have friends I never thought I'd have."
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Pam hit on all the key issues. Crime, jobs, taxes, no, no to a single high school we do not need. A candidate with brains and guts - finally.