NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The longest current sitting city councilor, Lisa Blackmer, is looking to make an even bigger impact.
Blackmer announced on Friday her bid for state representative in the special election to fill out the term of the late Gailanne Cariddi. Blackmer has been a city councilor for 10 years and served two years as president. She also served last year as the president of the statewide Massachusetts Municipal Association.
She has held municipal positions in various parts of Western Massachusetts and that experience is what she hopes to bring to the Beacon Hill.
"I have a vision for the future and the experience to make it happen," Blackmer said on Friday.
The North Adams Democrat has not only served on the City Council but was the town administrator for Sandisfield and is the current treasurer and collector for the town of Buckland. She has already taken that municipal experience and knowledge of issues facing cities and towns to the state level through the MMA and now she feels it is time to "take to the next level."
The MMA meets frequently throughout the year with state lawmakers and gives input on bills and proposals. Blackmer said she's had successes, particularly as president, in helping to craft the Municipal Modernization Bill, which eliminated and updated an array of municipal regulations.
"You learn to compromise and you learn to build coalitions with like-minded representatives," Blackmer said of her six years on the MMA.
She's worked on issues regarding zoning laws, advocated for state funding assistance, and brought issues such as simply allowing small towns to deficit spend on veterans benefits without having to go to a special town meeting — a burden many on the east of the state wouldn't understand.
Blackmer believes she has a head start on finding representatives in the State House with like-minded views.
"I tried to take the case farther east," Blackmer said of her time on the MMA board and specifically reaching out to lawmakers from outside of the area to help them understand the technical details of issues facing Berkshire County. "I think I've done a good job of informing people about the issues."
As a councilor and working in town administration, she said she's learned exactly how important state support is for cities and town. Blackmer says she would advocate particularly for Chapter 90 funding for road construction projects.
"We can't afford to repair the infrastructure ourselves," Blackmer said.
There is an omnibus zoning bill pending, she pushed for broadband expansion, and she believes towns need additional support for regionalization and shared services, and funding for schools.
"As a city councilor, town administrator, and treasurer/collector, I have extensive knowledge of the challenges facing our communities and schools, and look forward to debating the issues with the other candidates," Blackmer said.
Blackmer said she is also in tune with many projects in the works in the Berkshires — from the Hoosic River Revival to the Berkshire Mall — in which she would be able to advocate for state support, whether that be funding or legislatively.
But, there is a whole lot more than the municipal-focused bills, which has been her expertise, and all of it is interconnected. From the opioid drug issues to poverty to workforce development, Blackmer said she wants to take a collaborative approach to solving those issues facing the communities in the 1st Berkshire District.
"I would continue to advocate for more community members who are affected by the opioid crisis," she said. "There are so many issues and so many ways."
Workforce development is another priority for her. That includes local schools, job training programs, and higher education.
"We have quite a few job openings but there is a disconnect between the jobs that are available and the skill sets," Blackmer said.
But first thing is first, Blackmer said she will focus on the legislation Cariddi had already filed. She worked with Cariddi in her first few terms on the City Council and the General Government Committee and Blackmer wants to emulate the "detail-oriented" approach Cariddi took on in her work. Blackmer said she'd be picking up where Cariddi left off.
"She got me involved in politics. She kind of showed me the way," Blackmer said.
The Pittsfield native moved to North Adams 30 years ago and raised a family with her husband, William Blackmer. She is a Massachusetts College Liberal Arts graduate, with a degree in business administration, and first won election to the council in 2007.
"We, in a lot of ways, are a tight-knit community. We support each other," Blackmer said about the Northern Berkshires. "That makes us special."
Blackmer is also a board member of the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, the Northern Berkshire Santa Fund, and previously a co-chair of the Gala Committee for Berkshire County Kid's Place.
"I am running to make sure those who reside in the 1st Berkshire District have the opportunities they need to prosper in their lives, their work and raising their families," Blackmer said.
Blackmer becomes the second to formally announce a bid for the seat, following Democrat Stephanie Bosley. Republican Christine Canning-Wilson, of Lanesborough, has indicated that she intends to run for the seat as well.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.