PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Keep it simple.
That's what Edward Carmel believes. But he doesn't believe the current City Council is doing that. He feels the council spins its wheels tinkering with things and not accomplishing anything.
He uses the recent debate over trash disposal, which has been ongoing for three years to no avail as an example.
"Make it simple. The council has been sitting there for over a year now just twisting and turning the ties on the bags - that's what I call it - because they don't think rationally. There are a couple that do but the rest of them, they're thinking outside of the box but don't think outside of the box on this one, think inside it," Carmel said. "I love thinking outside of the box but stay in the box on this one and do it very simple."
The council has been tinkering with the trash ordinance, adding weight restrictions and ruling where and how the trash should be bundled. But, Carmel said the city could simply find a vendor who does toter programs and implement it - here is the tote, fill it, and that's all you get. He is also frustrated that the administration signed a five-year contract with Republic Services for trash collection and did not go out to bid.
"They didn't go out of the area to get bids. The mayor did not go out of the area. That's one major, major, mistake she made in her administration," Carmel said.
With parking meters, he sees the same thing. The council is about to open up a new conversation about the parking meter plan. Carmel said the businesses downtown are helping residents learn to use them, that businesses aren't hurting, that there is vehicle turnover, and now isn't the time to start changing things.
He'd like to see the plan be fully rolled out as originally proposed. But, at the same time, he also wants to remove permit parking from the First Street lot and have that be fully metered.
Carmel has a long history in the city. He moved from Hinsdale to Pittsfield as a teenager. He then went into the Army, where he served as a diesel mechanic for three years, before returning to the city. For 30 years he worked a number of various jobs, mostly in the construction type field. He describes himself as "a blue-collar guy" and not a politician.
"I'm not a jack of all trades who has a couple of majors. I'm a jack of all trades who knows a lot about everything and I say then with a lot of dignity," Carmel said.
In the early 2000s, Carmel started to get politically involved. Larry Bossidy had gifted the city $1 million for the park system. However, decisions were made to put some of that into equipment for maintenance - a move that led irked Bossidy who penned a letter in 2006 saying he was "appalled and flabbergasted" by the decisions. That frustrated Carmel, who said if somebody gives money for a specific purpose, then that purpose is what the city should have spent the money on.
Around that time, he also became an advocate for a new baseball stadium that was planned. That failed but Carmel still sees an economic benefit a new stadium could bring so he'd love to see that conversation return.
In 2016, Carmel took a big leap into politics when he successfully petitioned the City Council to restart the long-dormant Homeless Committee. Carmel was homeless at one point in his life and saw the committee as being one that can help those currently living on the streets. His next focus is trying to create another sober shelter for those who can't get into other shelters. He'd like to station a nurse there to service medical needs.
"I have so many agenda items that I need to nail down to a few. But probably my first one is homeless, two is helping the veterans, three is the kids, and four is the seniors. That'll be my major four," Carmel said.
After his push for the homeless committee, he ran for an at large seat on the City Council in 2017. He said he was surprised by the number of votes he got then and it has inspired him to run again - this time for the Ward 6 seat.
Carmel also wants to push for a youth center on the west side. Many in the west side have pushed for a center for years but to no avail.
"I want it right dead on the west side. I don't want it to the left, to the right, I want it dead center because the people on the west side deserve more than what they've got," Carmel said.
Meanwhile, he opposes the pickleball proposal saying at this time, the city should be fixing problems currently in the park system rather than building a new court. He said the Doyle Softball Complex needs a lot of work.
"It is not a mess but it needs major fixing up. The backstops all have big holes in them, the doors on the dugouts are broke, they don't stay closed. There are numerous other things that need repair," Carmel said, adding that West Memorial Park is lacking playing fields.
Carmel is also irked by the city's budget for snow and ice. The line is only one the state allows cities to deficit spend and this last year, the city ran a large overage which had to be covered mostly by free cash. Carmel said the city should be budgeting more accurately to generate free cash, rather than underfunding. He'd like to see free cash then be put to making immediate repairs to city properties.
"If they're funded properly, you don't have to touch them if you don't need them," Carmel said.
Carmel is currently up against Dina Guiel Lampiasi for the Ward 6 seat. Craig Gaetani and Joseph Nichols both took out nomination papers and could join the race if they become certified for the ballot. Incumbent Councilor John Krol is not seeking re-election.
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