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A total of 23 percent of Pittsfield's registered voters made it to the polls on Tuesday.
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Persip, Moon Join Incumbents on Pittsfield City Council

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Helen Moon outside of the polls at Reid Middle School in her final campaign push.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Helen Moon was arguably the most visible candidate among those seeking seats on the City Council this year.
 
Moon had organized a high energy campaign for Ward 1 as she looked to fill a vacancy being created by Lisa Tully's decision not to run for re-election.
 
A newcomer to political office and running a campaign, Moon said the only way she'd be satisfied is if she gave it her all.
 
"There were definitely some learning curves. It was a lot of mistakes I had to make, but I made them. I feel that was the best way to learn," Moon said of campaigning. 
 
She took advice along the way from people who have done it before and continued to build what another sitting city councilor would later call a "steamroller" of a campaign. 
 
And then weeks before the election, Moon's opponent Michael Cirullo dropped out. Moon took victory Tuesday night by pulling in 598 votes to Cirullo's 110.
 
"I feel very humbled that the voters of Ward 1 came out and decidedly voted for me. It is humbling and it feels good," Moon said.
 
The Ward 1 race had looked to be one of the most interesting races early on in the campaign season. But it turned out to be the neighboring ward that created a bit of drama on Tuesday.
 
In Ward 2, incumbent Kevin Morandi barely squeaked by challenger Dina Guiel by just 44 votes -- a total of 411 to 367.
 
"I'm very pleased with the results," Morandi said Tuesday night. "I've done my job and I'm proud of what I've done."
 
Morandi said his race had a lot of "negativity in the media." He and Guiel exchanged verbal blows on a few occasions leading up to Tuesday's vote. But Morandi prevailed by the slim margin and says he will continue to focus on the keeping a tight city budget, providing constituent services, and bringing jobs.
 
"I work for the residents of Ward 2 and these are my priorities," Morandi said. "We really need to get more aggressive in going to businesses and getting them to come to Pittsfield."
 
The incumbent candidates across the ballot were undefeated. Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli soared to victory over challenger Rhonda Serre by a 73 percent to 27 percent margin. Ward 5 incumbent Donna Todd Rivers defeated William Keane by an 80 to 20 percent margin. Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell defeated William Wright by a tally of 722-622. Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo easily won re-election over James Gleason by an 80 to 20 percent margin. 
 
In the at-large race, newcomer Earl Persip will join incumbents Peter Marchetti, Peter White, and Melissa Mazzeo.
 
Being a newcomer, Persip said his campaign worked hard to get his name and message out there. But, he also has a long history with the city that  he believes helped him win the seat.
 
"I'm a lifelong Pittsfield resident. I've worked in the same place for 22 years and I think that was important. I think people like to see people from Pittsfield represent them. My whole career has been dedicated to serving people in different roles at the Y. I work with children, I work with seniors, I work with everybody. It is special that they chose me as one of their councilors," Persip said.
 
Persip has lived in many of the city's wards and his campaign was built around representing all of the city's residents.
 
"I wanted to make sure we represented the overall city, everybody in all of the wards. That was the reason I ran for councilor at large, to represent the whole city," Persip said.
 
Persip is just one of two newcomers to the City Council -- with Moon being the other one. Councilor at Large Peter White received the second-highest number of votes in the at-large race and said the sweep of incumbents returning shows that voters approve of the work the council is doing.
 
"To me, it was like having a report card for this election. I would say coming in second, the voters were favorable of the direction we are going in," White said.
 
But the race this year was different. There was no mayoral race to top the ticket and help drive people to the polls. And there was a lack of candidates overall. The at-large race in past years has often needed a preliminary to narrow the field to eight. This year, there were only six candidates -- Edward Carmel and Craig Gaetani were on the losing end of the at-large race.
 
"This was the first at-large race I've seen without a lot of challengers. It was really nice getting to know Ed Carmel, he was a super nice guy and I hope he stays involved, but usually, there are multiple candidates," White said.
 

Earl Persip chats with Marjo Catalano from Live 95.9 at Patrick's Pub, where Persip and supporters joined to hear the election results.
Throughout the day it was clear that in precincts with a contested ward races, voter turnout was higher than in others. Instead of a big citywide ballot being the driver of turnout, it was the neighborhoods. 
 
Even then, White said it was difficult for ward candidates to reach voters. There had been a seemingly lack of opportunities and one-on-one debates among the ward candidates, White said. 
 
"It was very difficult for ward candidates, incumbents and challengers, to get their message out there when they didn't have those one-on-one opportunities to say why they are different. It was all based on how much door-to-door they could do, out giving statements, instead of having a back and forth," White said.
 
The voter turnout, however, wasn't that abnormal. This was the first election under the new charter, which switched the mayor from two to four years, without a mayoral race. Council President Peter Marchetti said there was an uncontested race for mayor in 2013  with a 24 percent turnout. This year, 6,384 of the city's 27,755 voters came out for a 23 percent turnout.
 
"I'm not sure much changed," Marchetti said.
 
Of those 6,384 ballots, the dot next to Marchetti's name was filled in 5,124 times making him the highest vote-getter for two consecutive elections.
 
"I am overwhelmed with the amount of support the voters of Pittsfield showed me today. I am deeply humbled by the results. I hope that reflects on the job that I've been doing both as a councilor and as council president," Marchetti said.
 
Marchetti had been the highest vote-getter in his last election as well and later elected as council president, a position he said he is still interested in retaining. He was also the top vote-getter in 2007 and in 2009. He narrowly lost a bid for mayor in 2011. 
 
"I either win as top vote-getter or I lose. That seems to be the pattern in my elections," Marchetti said.
 
The inauguration is in January, giving Persip and Moon some time to wind down after the electoral push and prepare for the work ahead.
 
"My next month or so will be meeting with department heads and getting a better grasp of what they need, what they're looking for. I'm talking to councilors now and see what big things are coming up on the agenda that needs my attention. I'll continue to reach out to the residents and see what their concerns are," Persip said.
 
Moon echoed a similar plan but with community group meetings that she hadn't been able to attend while on a busy campaign schedule.
 
"I'm excited to be able to go to meetings I haven't been able to attend in a while. I haven't been able to go to Indivisible Pittsfield. I really want to go to the Morningside Initiative. I have all these groups I want to engage with and I haven't been able to because I've been campaigning," Moon said.
 
Later adding, "I'm going to prepare for the inauguration by continuing the conversation. I want to continue to learn about the issues that affect Ward 1 and how we move Pittsfield forward."
 

Ward 6 Councilor John Krol was unopposed.

In the city clerk's office, Michele Cetti will also be gearing up to take on a new job. Cetti, currently an assistant clerk, ran unopposed for the city clerk job that Jody Phillips is vacating. 
 
On the School Committee, incumbents Katherine Yon, Joshua Cutler, Daniel Elias, and Cynthia Taylor are being joined by Dennis Powell and William Cameron. The six candidates were the only six on the ballot for the committee.

 


Tags: election 2017,   election results,   


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