Pittsfield Resident Craig Gaetani Launches Campaign For Mayor
Craig Gaetani says he is getting no traction trying to work with city officials so he is running for mayor.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Promising to be a man of action, West Street resident Craig Gaetani has launched a campaign for mayor.
The 67-year-old has been at odds with the City Council and mayor over the last several years, particularly over the water treatment plant. Gaetani is a former marketing director of Krofta Engineering and says the city could save upward of $150 million by using that technology.
Facing resistance from city officials, Gaetani is now looking to take over the corner office from which he promises to do the public's bidding.
"It is very clear they are not following the lead of the people," Gaetani said during a Friday morning press conference at his home. "I plan to be the person who listens to everybody."
Gaetani said Krofta products were used in the building of the Cleveland Reservoir Water Treatment Plant. In 2011, he tried to convince city officials to use the technology again but says he was greeted with hostility.
"I should be looked at as a favorite son but instead I'm being crucified," Gaetani said.
Most recently, Gaetani's refusal to stop speaking during the open microphone period at the last City Council's meeting led the council to call a recess. Previously, he interrupted a Human Rights Commission meeting, leading that committee to abruptly end its meeting.
On Friday, switching between voice-recorded statements and handwritten notes, he outlined a series of interactions with Mayor Daniel Bianchi, City Council President Melissa Mazzeo and Commissioner of Public Services Bruce Collingwood, all of which he says he was treated rudely and denied a chance to discuss the products. City officials have said Gaetani, who has not worked in water treatment in years, has been threatening, disruptive and unable to articulate what he wants from them.
"I am an expert in building water treatment plants and if Collingwood listened to me in 2011, I could have saved another million," Gaetani said. "One second after I am sworn in, I'll be firing Bruce Collingwood."
He dismissed Bianchi, calling him "unintelligent and lazy." As mayor, he wouldn't spending his time cutting ribbons as he said Bianchi does, but instead taking action on reducing the cost of the school system and public safety while preparing to manage the city's other post-employment benefit liabilities.
Gaetani served in the Army for three years, 17 months of which was in Vietnam. Upon returning stateside, he attended Berkshire Community College and then North Adams State College. He taught in Pittsfield schools for about a decade before his position was eliminated during budget cuts and he joined Krofta. He retired some years ago.
The school system, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the city's annual spending, is the main target of his campaign. He says there are too many administrators and would streamline the process.
"The thing we have to take a good look at in the city of Pittsfield is the administrative costs for all departments. The School Department administration is made up of 17 people, that was the figure I was told by somebody who is quite knowledgeable. We have a superintendent, an assistant to the superintendent, an assistant to the assistant to the superintendent and all of their secretaries. Every single time you add more administrators that cost goes up and up and up," he said. "Enough!"
He said he will use his role as a member of the School Committee, which comes with the mayor's position, to push for reforms. He says he will be trying to bring more discipline to the classrooms.
"I will be going to every school and talking to every student from kindergarten right to 12th grade and there are two elements in the school: the teacher who is the boss and the student who follows his teacher. When the teacher tells you to stand on your head, attempt to do it. We have to have some new, new types of methods in the teaching career," Gaetani said. "I'll be letting it known to the students that the teacher is the boss."
Overall, his campaign centers on financial responsibility and he says "everything is on the table." Anything the taxpayers don't want, he will cut.
However, many of his ideas require support from the School Committee and the City Council and he can't work with the current members. He is calling for other like-minded individuals to run for office.
Gaetani says he cannot work with the current City Council so he is calling for like-minded individuals to run for office.
"It is my opinion that in order for me to be totally successful as a good mayor, strongly representing the taxpayer and rate payer, the City Council has to be completely eliminated. Every single member of the City Council," Gaetani said.
"One of my goals is to end up with a City Council that I can work with. Can I work with the existing City Council? Absolutely not. I cannot work with any of them."
He said he is organizing a list of precinct captains who will help coordinate meetings with himself and other candidates to discuss the platform.
Through his guidance, he feels enough people will be elected that he'll be able to get his goals accomplished.
"I plan to be a very strong mayor. I plan to spend a lot of time with all of the departments and I already know what I want to do," Gaetani. "When Craig Gaetani takes office in January we'll be ready to go, ready to roll."
Gaetani is the second candidate to announce for mayor and he was joined Friday by supporters Corey and Tammy Ives. Mayor Daniel Bianchi is expected to seek re-election but has not yet announced his candidacy. City Clerk Linda Tyer announced earlier this week she would run.
The election is on Nov. 3 and nomination papers are now available.
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