Downing to Serve as Chief Surrogate for Coordinated Campaign Effort
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Democratic Party has named state Sen. Ben Downing co-chair of the Coordinated Campaign, a crucial post that will serve as the chief surrogate for Democratic efforts throughout the election cycle.
Downing, of Pittsfield, is a rising star in Democratic politics and has represented the Berkshires and portions of Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties since 2007.
As chair of Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Downing’s leadership on clean energy has helped make Massachusetts No. 1 in the nation. According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, there are now nearly 80,000 clean energy jobs in Massachusetts, with a 24 percent growth in the last two years.
“Massachusetts is back in the leadership business because of the Democratic Party,” said Downing. “As Democrats, we’ve got a great story to tell about leading the nation in business competitiveness, education, clean energy and veteran’s services. I’m excited to travel the commonwealth and tell that story.”
Downing’s Coordinated Campaign co-chair will be named at a later date.
Gubernatorial Candidate Kayyem Focuses on Future
|Juliette Kayyem talked with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Juliette Kayyem doesn't do luck. She does preparedness.
After being called on three times to lend her hand to the government in the wake of tragedy, she is trying to get out in front by running for governor to make sure Massachusetts is prepared for the future.
"We need to solve the problems of today and there are many. But, we need to solve the problems in a way that is sustainable in the future," the Democratic candidate said at a meet and greet on Wednesday with the Berkshire Brigades.
Kayyem's career began as a civil rights attorney before she moved into homeland security. She served on the National Commission on Terrorism and later was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick as the state's first undersecretary for Homeland Security, leading the state's push for security planning.
She moved back to the federal level as President Barack Obama's appointment for assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs. There, she coordinated responses to major tragedies such as the BP oil spill and the H1N1 flu outbreak while also planning on issues such as immigration.
"Two presidents and a governor have asked me to make government work when it matters the most but it matters most all of the time and that's the way I would think of it as governor," said Kayyem, who also adds lecturer at Harvard, former Boston Globe columnist and mother of three to her resume.
Kayyem said her task in those roles was not just focused on terrorism but all of the factors that contribute to safety and security — such as gun control or climate change.
"I know people hear homeland security and they think terrorism. But, it is not that. Homeland security is as much about the homeland as it is security," she said.
Her views on climate change is one example of how she would prepare the state for the future. While Kayyem believes the state should reduce carbon emissions, she also believes it should build infrastructure to reduce the effects. She said it was only a few miles and low tides that kept the state from being significantly impacted by last year's Hurricane Sandy. Since the state can't solve the problem alone, Massachusetts needs to be prepared for the changes.
Another way the state needs to prepare is economically, because she doesn't believe the state's revenue projects are correct — particularly with the amount expected from the tech tax that was repealed and income from casinos. Nor does she believes the current tax system will provide the needed revenue for the future.
"We're not sure what we can expect from that," Kayyem said. "It is the obligation of the next governor, you need to figure out what does the budget look like and what is realistic and unrealistic sources of revenue."
She is calling for a complete overhaul of the tax system, reforming the criminal justice system, and finding where to reduce expenses.
|Kayyem's career has been focused on public safety but she wants to do more for the people of Massachusetts.|
"I think we're going to have to start talking about a new tax system that is fair for everyone and gives the state a source of revenue not just for today but in the future," she said.
And as with other democrats, she is calling for investment in infrastructure and education — saying those are ways the state can best prepare for the future.
She said the state shouldn't be backing down from economic competition with other states or countries but push to make the state the best.
"All of us on the Democratic side are going to talk to you about jobs, education and infrastructure. And that's good. I'm going to talk about raising the minimum wage and that's right. And paid sick leave and that's right. That's the bare minimum. What we need to prepare for is a stronger, resilient state in the future," Kayyem said.
Kayyem said the state needs to have a vision of what it wants to be in the future and set a path to together. There are jobs in transportation, life sciences, technology and biotechnology, she said, and government needs to cut through the minutiae to get to the solutions. Government can't just look for a quick solution, she said.
"One of the good things about being a new politician is you can see the challenges of politics," she said.
For example, Kayyem said while officials debate charter schools, they should instead be discussion how the children are currently learning and how the state can prepare them for those future jobs.
Kayyem says the government's job is to be progressive and work for everybody in the state.
"Government has the capacity to do good for people every and also that government can always do better. There is no finish line," she said. "Government's job is to open doors and make sure everyone belongs."
Kayyem joined the race for governor in August and is vying for the Democratic nomination along with Martha Coakley, Joseph Avellone, Donald Berwick and Steven Grossman. Also seeking the corner office is independent candidate Evan Falchuk and Republican Charles Baker.
Kayyem says she brings a "new kind of leadership," which sets her apart from the other candidates.
"I represent a new kind of leadership, a new generation that we saw represented in Boston race, where people like me, who have different skills — I know government but maybe politics is new to me — can actually provide a vision and a way of moving forward that is different and something people want to hear," she said.
More information at www.juliettekayyem.com.
North Adams & Pittsfield Election 2013 Results
|City Council (top 9) unofficial results|
|Name||Ward 1||Ward 2||Ward 3||Ward 4||Ward 5||Total|
|Kate H. Merrigan||552||472||350||619||524||2,517|
|North Adams School Committee||McCann School Committee|
North Adams City Council unofficials results, in order, were Kate Hanley Merrigan, Benjamin Lamb, Nancy Bullett, Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer, Joshua Moran, Jennifer Breen, Wayne Wilkinson and Eric Buddington elected, with David Robbins, Robert Cardimino and Michael Hernandez rounding out the field.
Winning re-election on the School Committee were H. Putnam Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark P. Moulton, with newcomer Michele Vareschi out of the running.
Both incumbents Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers ran unopposed for the Northern Berkshire Vocational District School Committee.
Tully Upsets Yon In Pittsfield Election
Lisa Tully ousted incumbent Christine Yon.
|Voters took to the polls on Tuesday to choose a new City Council and School Committee.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Turnout has been low so far in the city election Tuesday.
Voters are electing a new City Council and School Committee. There are three ward races, seven vying for four at-large City Council seats and seven seeking six positions on the School Committee.
Tuesday saw supporters and candidates at the polling locations holding signs to rally last minute support. But, the number of people casting votes has been low — somewhat expected because there is no mayoral race.
At 1 p.m. in Ward 4B only 320 made it to the polls with 3A and 6A showing similar numbers with 291 and 376. By 2 p.m. in Ward 1A and 1B, a total of only 521 votes were cast.
"I'm feeling there is a low voter turnout but I'm very optimistic," said Joseph Nichols, who was outside of Columbus Arms on Columbus Street rallying voters in his race against incumbent John Krol for Ward 6.
Nichols said this is the first time he sought election against an incumbent, raising the difficulty of winning. But, on Tuesday afternoon he was feeling good about his support.
"It's been a great experience going door to door and meeting the Ward 6 residents," Nichols said of the campaign. "It's a lot of hard work but I'm happy to be a candidate."
His competitor, Krol, said he did what he could do to drive a higher turnout. He said he is happy with the number of his supports he saw at the polls.
"I knew we wouldn't have additional momentum to drive turnout. [But] I think we've had a steady flow," Krol said, also outside of Columbus Arms. "I think I did everything I could."
This is only the second time Krol has faced competition for the seat and Nichols is no stranger to campaigns after representing Ward 7 previously and launching a bid for mayor in 2011.
In Ward 1, Lisa Tully, who is vying for the seat against incumbent Christine Yon, was feeling good about her first campaign. Tully was outside of Reid Middle School where both Ward 1 precincts are polling.
"I think I made it a personal campaign and let's hope it works," Tully said, adding that he focus was on meeting every voter face to face and sending handwritten letters asking for support. "If worst comes to worst, I've had a great experience."
Yon also spent the morning campaigning outside of Reid Middle School but she was not there at the time iBerkshires stopped by.
Alcombright Wins Third Term; Younger Council Elected
|Mayor Richard Alcombright won a third term for mayor on Tuesday night.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright decisively won a third term on Tuesday night, calling for unity and saying it was "time to move this forward."
Alcombright polled 2,149 votes to challenger Robert M. Moulton Jr.'s 1,479, winning about 60 percent of ballots cast.
This election, even more than Alcombright's 2009 victory, was a changing of the old guard.
Along with returning the mayor to office, voters also swept a new, far younger slate of councilors into City Hall by large margins.
Kate Hanley Merrigan, 34, led the pack with 2,517 votes. The four incumbents running were also returned — Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer, Nancy Bullett and Jennifer Breen. Newcomers elected were Josh Moran, Benjamin Lamb, Wayne Wilkinson and Eric Buddington.
"I'm both proud and humbled to be elected to this third term," said Alcombright to cheering supporters, many clad in green, at Mediterra.
"Well, you always hope to win, we didn't win. We got the message out there. It doesn't resonate I guess with the voters. But we believed in it we were passionate about it," said Moulton, at a quieter gathering at the American Legion. "Dick's an awful nice fellow and we lost and he won and people get what they vote for and that's the American way and I can live with that."
Alcombright said he'd spoken with his longtime friend and hoped to get together with him in the coming months to see if they hash out some of their differences. He thank the former city councilor for running a great race, along with every candidate who had put themselves out for a chance to serve their city.
"It takes great courage to put yourself and your family into the public arena these days," he said.
Left out of the running for council were David Robbins, Robert Cardimino and Michael Hernandez. Returned to office were School Committee incumbents Heather Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark Moulton and McCann School Committee incumbents Paul A. Gigliotti and Gary F. Rivers.
But he wasn't holding back on who he thought his real opponent was: The last three elections have been "literally about John Barrett," whom he ousted from the corner office in 2009 and who has supported the last two mayoral challengers, Moulton very publicly.
"I have run each time against John Barrett and I have now beat him three times," he said to applause. "I'm hoping that three is the charm."
He called for an end to negativity and challenged residents "to pull the rope in the same direction, those of us in green, those of us red, and yes, those of us that are still in blue."
It was time to stop petty politics that slow things down, said Alcombright, saying that the city needed to grow to solve its financial situation.
"We've got to stop this, we've just got to stop this," he said afterward. "We have a community that wants to move forward. We've got a new young energetic council.
"It's time ... it's my time and it's our time to move this city forward."
"I think there are going to be some exciting projects and we don't have to worry about someone trying to knock it down," said Bona, who added that he thought running on negativity doesn't win elections — or aligning with city's longtime former mayor.
One of those new councilors, Moran, said he's looking forward to "positive discussions with people who don't necessarily agree" but who can work together to compromise.
"They might have their own avenue how to address an issue," he said, adding it was time to overcome the city's negativity. "It's going to be really fun to hear people say we want to go after that. ... That is our city and this is how we're going to do it."
Buddington, who squeaked into ninth place by 11 votes (unofficially) on this third council try, said he was thrilled to have a chance to represent citizens. "It's so gratifying to live in a city where everyone is pleasant and civil ... with some exceptions."
"I think mostly people are seeing the growth, I think they're seeing the unemployment rate coming down, I think they're seeing the good things we're doing," he gave as reasons for his re-election."
But, he said, it wasn't about him but about everyone who'd been working with him. It was about unity, said Alcombright.
There was agreement among those celebrating at his victory party.
"I think bottom line though, it all comes down to having a council that's strong and visionary, and there are a lot of visionaries on this new council," said resident Kurt Kolok.
Turnout continued to be steady all day, with more than 30 percent of voters heading to the polls. At St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, some 42 percent of the voters in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 had cast ballots by 5:30.
Both mayoral candidates said they felt good about the voters they'd seen and spoken to at the polls.
"It's been a great day, I think voter turnout has been pretty good," said the incumbent, Richard Alcombright. "I fell pretty comfortable right now, seeing folks who are voting. I seem to be getting a good reaction."
The challenger, Robert M. Moulton Jr., on the other side of the driveway, also was feeling a good response.
"We've talked to hundreds of people, people have been good, it's been a great community thing," he said. "It's very heartening to see the community come together like this no matter who wins."
Both said at this point, it was up the voters.
Michael Hernandez and Eric Buddington were hoping the voters will swing their way this time around. Both have been up for City Council seats before and need to get into the top nine vote-getters of the dozen running.
"I feel great, I feel good I'm optimistic I'll win a seat," said Hernandez, who noted the large and steady turnout. "It's been larger than I would have thought."
Buddington, who spent much of the day at the polls with his young son, Solomon, said he didn't like to guess.
"But it's sure been a nice day out, warm and not too breezy," he said, and referred to a collegial atmosphere among the candidates and supporters. "This section has been very warm and welcoming to everybody. There's been no strife in this part ... we've been very well behaved."
Fellow council candidate Cardimino had reportedly continued to clash with police over his attempts to make contact with voters.
|Candidates and supporters line the sidewalk around St. Elizabeth's Parish Center.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voter turnout is described as "steady" at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center early this afternoon.
Candidates and supporters lined the street in front the polling location for Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the chilled air, waving at drivers.
Election worker Ron O'Brien pegged the turnout so far at about 10 to 12 percent, or a little over that.
"It's been steady but not a big crowd," he said. "There have been no lines except when we opened."
The expectation is for 30 to 40 percent of the city's more than 8,000 registered voters to cast ballots. O'Brien pointed to a mayoral race with candidates of very opposing views as well as the slate of very new candidates running for City Council as good reasons for a larger turnout.
Last election saw a turnout of 42 percent; polls are open to 7 p.m.
Some of the candidates outside said they'd been getting good responses from voters.
"A lot of people have shaken my hand," said City Council candidate Robert Cardimino, who was frustrated when officers told him he could no longer reach over a low wall to shake hands with voters. "I can't shake hands with you ... the police told me I can't, " he said as a voter reached across to him.
Cardimino said he called Police Director Michael Cozzaglio to find out why shaking hands was a problem.