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Harris Elected Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent

Patsy Harris gets a congratulatory hug at her victory party at the American Legion on Thursday night.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Patsy Harris will ascend to register of deeds after attaining a majority of votes in a hotly contested three-way Democratic primary election with Jody Phillips and Scott M. Pignatelli. 

"Thank you for all your time," said Harris to supporters at an election night reception at the American Legion Post 68. "It all paid off."

Harris swept every one of the 12 communities that comprise the Middle Berkshire District, with the exception of Pittsfield's Ward 7A, which went to Phillips. Harris captured 60.7 percent of the vote; Phillips had 22.5 percent and Pignatelli with 16.8 percent.

Becket's numbers were reported late in the evening, but Harris received statements of concession from both opponents by around 9 p.m.

The final count was Harris with 6,663 votes; Phillips with 2,446 and Pignatelli with 1,910.

Harris, a current assistant register of deeds, was seen a clear front-runner early on in the race, but seemed to face a growing challenge from her two opponents, particularly Phillips, a former city clerk, as their campaign visibility grew over the summer.

Harris lavished praise on and thanked an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and key campaign volunteers.

"When somebody runs for office, they're really saying 'Get ready everybody, I need everything you've got for a year,'" said Harris, calling it a "great race" in which the other candidates "were wonderful as well."

"I think it was a clean race, really, I do," she added, though this was greeted by skeptical laughter by many of her supporters. Earlier this summer complaints of missing or destroyed campaign signs aroused some level of controversy, and was addressed in a variety of letters by Harris' supporters.

The newly elected register particularly credited the financial support of the "legal community, really as a whole" in funding her campaign.

"They really came through, and I'm just so grateful," said Harris.

Harris moves into the general election unopposed. She will replace current Register Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. representative.

Phillips Pignatelli Town Harris Phillips Pignatelli
Becket 163 23 22 Peru 81 17 5
Dalton 635 252 98 Pittsfield 3,864 1,846 740
Hinsdale 219 65 17 Richmond 204 49 50
Lee 429 53 25 Stockbridge 249 28 80
Lenox 648 57 496 Tyringham 46 13 24
Otis 86 18 36 Washington 69 25 9


Neal Wins Primary Battle for 1st Mass Seat

Staff ReportsiBerkshires

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal will move from the 2nd Mass District to the 1st in the next Congress after winning Thursday's primary.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Richard Neal cruised to victory in Thursday's Democratic primary in a tepid turnout in Berkshire County.

By 9:30 p.m., Neal was outpolling his opponents 3-1 with fewer than 100 precincts left to report in the race for the 1st Massachusetts District. With no opponent in sight for the November election, Neal is the representative for the newly redrawn congressional district.

The writing was on the wall early on as the veteran 2nd District congressman began pulling away from the Berkshires' two candidates — Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein — when the results began coming shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Both Nuciforo and Shein campaigned heavily in Neal's Springfield base, hoping to pull some votes there way but they failed to make significant inroads against the 10-term congressman.

Neal, who was endorsed by retiring U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, did as well as expected in Springfield, taking 9,883  to Nuciforo's 1,553  and Shein's 394. But he also did well in the Berkshires, easily outpolling both men on their home turf.

Only in Great Barrington South County was there a significant reversal. Shein, who was consistently trailing in third in many places, took Great Barrington by 613, outpolling Neal at 203 and Nuciforo at 124. He also won Monterey, Mount Washington, Stockbridge and his hometown of Alford (71 to Neal's 13 and Nuciforo's 11).

Nuciforo, who'd been planning his run since 2008, surpassed Neal in Dalton (483-379) and Hinsdale (150-111) and tied him in Lee at 297. He also won in Otis and New Ashford.

By 7:30, a half-hour before the polls closed in Clarksburg, only 129 of town's more than 1,100 voters had cast ballots. One of the election workers described the day as "steady slow."

Clarksburg voters cast 116 ballots in the Democratic primary, giving Neal 53 votes, Nuciforo 46 and Shein 11. Thirteen Republican primary ballots were cast, giving Michael F. Case nine votes and Michael Franco three votes in the Governer's Council race. Results for the Governer's Council on the Democratic side were Michael Albano 46, Gerry Roy 8 and Kevin Sullivan 42.

In Williamstown, the turnout was better at 22 percent but Town Clerk Mary Kennedy had forecast around 1,200 ballots being cast. The final number was 844.

"I thought we would at least break 1,000," she said.

Neal took Williamstown with 318 votes, 100 more than Nuciforo, a former state senator from Pittsfield. Shein, of Alford, polled 243.

Williamstown, not surprisingly, went blue with 791 votes in the Democratic primary and 49 in the Republican. One ballot was also cast in the Green-Rainbow primary, which had no races.

North Adams also went Neal with 366 votes, Nuciforo with 282 and Shein with 181. Only about 10 percent of registered voters turned out, with 872 out of 8,724 casting ballots.

Election Warden Ronald O'Brien said the low turnout at North Adams was expected but not by this much.

"There really isn't a big race for North Adams," O'Brien said.

Both he and City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau spoke highly of the city's election workers.

"I think voters should be very appreciative of the election workers of the city," Gomeau said. "They should be commended."

In the 8th District Governer's Council race, Michael Albano was holding a slim lead over Kevin Sullivan in the Democratic primary, with Gerry Roy a distant third. On the Republican side, Michael Franco was leading Michael Case by several hundreds votes with 15 precincts yet to report.

For full results, see Boston.com.

Updated Friday, Sept. 7, to note Shein's better showing in South County and that Michael Albano and Michael Franco will face off for the Governor's Council seat in November. Final unofficial numbers were Neal at 40,165 votes (65 percent); Nuciforo at 15,123 (25 percent) and Shein at 6,048 (10 percent) per Boston.com.


Shein Accuses Berkshire Democratic Wing of Favoritism

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent

Congressional candidate Bill Shein says the Democratic Party hasn't been neutral enough in the 1st Mass primary.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Congressional candidate Bill Shein has added The Berkshire Brigades, the county's organizing arm of the Democratic Party, to the list of party organizations he says have shown improper favoritism in the hotly contested race for the 1st Massachusetts Congressional District that will be decided in Thursday's primary.

"Berkshire Brigades is an official part of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and can't endorse or show favor to any candidate pre-primary," said Shein. "But it has been, all year, ongoing and obvious."

Shein said election, communications and organizing efforts by the group have promoted Rep. Richard Neal's candidacy disproportionate to that of himself and former Pittsfield state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.

The Alford writer pointed to Brigades Chairman Lee Harrison stepping down from that post to participate in Neal's campaign.

Harrison announced his temporary departure as chairman in a July 27 letter to the editor of The Berkshire Eagle in support of Neal, which notes he had stepped down in June "to take an active part in the primary campaign." Pre-primary FEC filings indicate that Neal's campaign made a payment in the amount of $2,000 to Harrison on July 24.

"It's really a non-issue," said Neal campaign coordinator Matthew Fenlon, "In the letter [to the Eagle] Lee made it perfectly clear that he was stepping down from the Berkshire Brigades as of June to take a full-time role on our campaign."

Neither Harrison nor interim Chairwoman Sheila Irvin was able to be reached for comment on the accusations of favoritism, but former state representative and Brigades founding Chairman Sherwood Guernsey dismissed the statements as "sour grapes."

"The Brigades has not taken an official position at all on any of the candidates," said Guernsey, who continues to serve as a board member. "It is true that individuals within the Brigades are supporting individuals within the congressional race. The Berkshire Brigades is all about supporting the Democratic candidates."

"We haven't gone around publicizing anything for Neal," Guernsey told iBerkshires. "We haven't gone around publicizing anything for any one of them in particular."

A keyword search of the Berkshire Brigades website turns up 18 posts that mention Neal, but only one mention of the other two candidates, in a brief post announcing the air time of a WGBY candidate debate, one of two held in this election cycle.

In addition to reposts of Neal's own campaign statements on prominent endorsements, the Brigade's blog posts also include bulletins on several local canvassing efforts coordinated by the group on behalf of Neal in conjunction with those of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, upcoming campaign events, and an appeal from his campaign for volunteers. 

Shein also voiced concerns that an episode of the Brigades' public access television show "Common Sense" had featured more airings of its episode featuring Neal than those of the other two candidates. Neal's episode ran on two separate days, on July 16 and Aug. 13, for a total of eight showings, according to Pittsfield Community Television records, as opposed to that of Shein's, which ran five times and Nuciforo's, which ran four. These aired at different times of day on Aug. 20 and 27, respectively. 

A representative of PCTV told iBerkshires this was because of an error in program scheduling, and that the July 13 airings had not been intended by the Berkshire Brigades.

Nuciforo's campaign declined to comment on the allegations of favoritism or apparent disparity in campaign representation in the organization's website, but did confirm that Berkshire Brigades does not appear to be on any of the campaign's email mailing lists.

While the Brigades' blog page has been updated regularly throughout the summer, its informational page has not been updated to reflect the change in chairman. A campaign mailing for Kevin Sullivan for Governor's Council that arrived at some local residences today also lists Lee Harrison as chairman of the Brigades.

Shein previously boycotted the state's Democratic Party convention in early June, citing several instances of what he called "consistent breaches of party neutrality" by the state Democratic apparatus throughout the 1st District congressional race, including invitations to canvass for Neal in communications paid for by the state Democratic Party.


Neal Leads Congressional Race in Endorsements, Fundraising

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
Clockwise from left: Richard Neal, Bill Shein and Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. face off on Thursday in a Democratic primary that will determine the winner of the newly drawn 1st Mass District. Neal,  representative for the 2nd Mass District, has gained more endorsements and campaign money than the two Berkshires candidates.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Veteran Congressman Richard Neal boasts a significant lead in both funding and endorsements on opponents Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein the eve of a Democratic primary that will decide the first election for the newly redrawn 1st Massachusetts congressional district.

Neal has served the 2nd District in the House of Representatives since 1989, and is a senior member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee. Last year's redistricting announcement moved his native Springfield into the new 1st District, where Neal began introducing himself to new voters in Berkshire and Franklin counties at the beginning of 2012, following the anouncement in late 2011 that incumbent Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, would retire at the end of this term. 

Neal officially entered the race in mid-May, filing triple the number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot at 7,340. Seventeen percent of signatures came from residents of Berkshire County, which trails a distant second behind Hampden County in district registered voters, at 18 percent compared to 63 percent in Hampden.

"The consolidation of Western Massachusetts is not a bad thing, it's a good thing," Neal told iBerkshires on one of his earliest visits. "I can assure people that I will vigorously represent the interests of the Berkshires with the same enthusiasm that I represent my district."

Nuciforo first declared his intention to run in this election in 2009 as a challenger to Olver, prior to the plan for the redistricting. Currently the Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds, Nuciforo served as state senator from Pittsfield from 1997 to 2006, and chaired the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking, which became the Joint Committee on Financial Services. Nuciforo launched his full-scale 2012 campaign with a bus tour in early February,  having already begun building support among some local Democrats with events in Pittsfield and elsewhere over the previous months.  Nuciforo became the first to turn in papers to appear on the ballot on May 3, with 2,249 signatures. 

"This is going to be a watershed moment in American politics," Nuciforo said at one Pittsfield appearance, "because people in this country have felt more and more detached from the people who are supposed to be representing them. That's what this election's going to be all about."

Alford writer, humorist and political activist Bill Shein announced his intention to run in mid-January.  Other than a 2004 parody campaign for president, Shein has never run for public office but did work on Paul Simon's presidential campaign in 1988 and for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee after graduating from Tufts University in 1990. His op-ed column, "Reason Gone Mad," has won three National Press Club Award for Humor and appears in The Berkshire Eagle. Shein turned in 2,349 signatures to qualify on the ballot on June 4.

"In the Congress, I look forward to working with my new colleagues and reform activists from across the political spectrum to make vital changes in service of a democracy that works for all of us," said Shein in a recent statement.

Candidate's websites
Richard E. Neal
Andrew F. Nuciforo Jr.
Bill Shein

The primary election
is Thursday, Sept. 6

Where to vote
In addition to qualifying signatures, Neal also enjoys a substantial list of endorsements from prominent Democrats and organizations. Neal early on received the nod from longtime outgoing colleague Olver, who in February called Neal "a strong supporter of everything the district cares about." Neal has also been endorsed in the race by former President Bill Clinton, state Sen. Benjamin Downing, and 48 members of the Democratic State Committee. Additionally, he has secured the endorsement of the United Healthcare Workers East, the AFL-CIO, Massachusetts Teachers Association, American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, National Committee to Preserve and Protect Social Security and Medicare, and the Sierra Club, as well as that of the Republican of Springfield and Berkshire Eagle. Neal also received the endorsement of the Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association, in what is only the second political stance the group has taken since its formation in 1962.

Public endorsements for his opponents, in contrast, have been scarce. While Nuciforo's campaign has seen contributions from some local elected officials, including Pittsfield and North Adams city councilors, there have been no publicized endorsements. Shein was endorsed in June by L. Scott Laugenour of Lenox, Green-Rainbow Party candidate for 4th Berkshire District state representative.

The most significant disparity between the campaign of the Springfield congressman and his Berkshire-based opponents, however, is in fundraising and spending. Neal has spent just over $1.4 million in the race, according to his most recent FEC filings, with more than $2 million left remaining in his campaign fund. Nuciforo has raised a total of $242,209 in this election cycle, and spent $242,459, with a total of $100,620 left. Shein, whose campaign only accepts contributions of $99 or less, has raised only $20,035 and spent $14,710.

Funding has been a largely looming issue in the race, with Nuciforo and Shein repeatedly targeting Neal's large fundraising contributions from corporations and political action committees. Neal has maintained that donors do not influence his voting record in Congress.

On election day, Neal will vote at the Boys & Girls Club in Springfield, then host an election night results party at the Community Music School of Springfield at 8 p.m., to be followed by an expected "Thank You" breakfast in Pittsfield the following morning at Dottie's Coffeeshop. 

Nuciforo will cast his vote at Capeless Elementary School, and will be gathering with supporters to watch results at Mazzeo's Ristorante, 1015 South St., Pittsfield starting at 7:30 p.m. Shein will vote at Alford Town Hall, with his election night meet-up at Gypsy Joint in Great Barrington beginning around 7 p.m.

Friday Last Day to Register For Primary Election

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The last day to register to vote or make changes on your party affiliation for the September primary is Friday, Aug. 17.

But citizens should know that you've only got until 5 p.m. that day in many communities.

The registration deadline is set 20 days before a primary. Normally that falls on a Wednesday but this year's primary is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6 — putting the last day for registration on a Friday, in August.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin is using a directive under his emergency powers to allow municipal clerks and voter registration boards to close registration three hours earlier than the statutory 8 p.m.

Since many communities have early or no town hall hours on Fridays, they were given the ability to close at 5, said Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff on Tuesday. "The clerks were notified that hours for registering to vote are 9 to 5, however, if a community wishes to stay open until 8 they can."

North Adams City Hall, for example, closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays during the summer; in Clarksburg, the town offices are normally closed on Friday.

North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said her office will be open from 8 to 5 on Friday; Adams Town Clerk Haley A. Meczywor's office will also be open until 5.

To ensure you make the registration deadline, call ahead to find out when your town clerk's office will be open.

Those who wish to register or to change their party enrollment can also come in during regular office hours this week, which is 8:30 to 4 in Adams and from 8 to 4:30 in North Adams.

To register, one must be at least age 18 by the date of the election, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the municipality in which you are voting. If you have changed your name, moved to a new town or, in some places, failed to respond to your local census, you will need to re-register.

Absentee ballots are now available; the deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The polls will be open on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. Voting locations can be found here.

Meczywor also advises persons who sign up at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to bring the receipt with them to the polls. Residents may encounter problems on election day because Registry data is often not transmitted in time to town halls.

Candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot

Democratic Candidates

U.S. Senator: Elizabeth Warren

Congressman, 1st District: Richard E. Neal, Andrew F. Nuciforo Jr., Bill Shein

Governor's Council: Michael J. Albano, Gerry Roy, Kevin J. Sullivan

State Senator: Benjamin B. Downing

State Representative:
1st Berkshire: Gailanne Cariddi
2nd Berkshire: Paul W. Mark
3rd Berkshire: Tricia Farley-Bouvier
4th Berkshire: William "Smitty" Pignatelli

Clerk of Courts: Deborah S. Capeless

Register of Deeds, Middle District: Patsy Harris, Jody L. Phillips, Scott M. Pignatelli
Berkshire Northern: Frances T. Brooks
Berkshire Southern: No nominations

Republican Candidates

U.S. Senator: Scott P. Brown

Governor's Council, 8th District: Michael F. Case, Michael Franco

No nominatons for other offices

Green-Rainbow Candidates

State Representative, 4th Berkshire: Lee Scott Laugenour
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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.

Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

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