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Debates Slated for Sheriff, 2nd Berkshire Candidates

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College, in collaboration with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, will host the following debates Monday evening, Aug. 30, in K-111 on BCC's main campus. Seating is first-come, first-served and voters are invited to attend one or all three debates

The first event will begin at 6 p.m. with a debate between Democratic candidates Paul W. Mark, Noreen P. Suriner and Thomas S. Szczepaniak, who are vying for the nomination for representative for the 2nd Berkshire District.

Michael F. Case and Rosanne M. Frieri, the Republican candidates for the 2nd Berkshire District, will begin their debate at 7.

Jenn Smith, reporter for The Berkshire Eagle, will moderate both debates.
Daniel E. Bosley and Thomas N. Bowler, who are running to replace retiring Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, will debate at 8 p.m. Clarence Fanto, freelance newspaper and radio journalist, will moderate this debate.

The debates will be telecast live on CityLink, the government channel of PCTV, and through streaming at www.pittsfieldtv.org. The event will also be rebroadcast on PCTV several times prior to the Sept. 14 primary elections.

Tags: PCTV, Bowler, Bosley, Frieri, Szczepaniak, Mark, Suriner, Case      

Local Radio Hosts State Rep Forums

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Vox Radio is teaming with veteran journalists Clarence Fanto and Dan Valenti to present three live radio forums involving candidates for the two state representative seats in contention on Sept. 14, primary day.

Valenti, a broadcaster and writer, will moderate the events. Fanto will serve on the panel with Vox news director Larry Kratka, who is hosting. Fanto is a freelance writer and columnist for the Berkshire Eagle. He is the Eagle’s former managing editor.

The forum schedule is as follows:

    • Aug. 31, 11 to noon, from WBEC studios, 1420-AM, 2nd Berkshire District Democrats Thomas Szczepaniak of Dalton, Paul Mark of Hancock and Noreen Suriner of Middlefield.
     • Sept. 1, 11 to noon, also from WBEC, 2nd Berkshire District Republican candidates Michael Case of Washington and Rosanne Frieri of Richmond.
     • Sept. 2, 9  to 10 a.m., from WNAW studios in North Adams, 1230-AM, 1st Berkshire District Democrats David Bissaillon of Adams, Gailanne Cariddi of North Adams and Edward McDonald of Adams.

The format will allow for candidates to engage in dialogue and argumentation with each other in addition to responding to questions from the panel.

Candidates will not be allowed to have notes. There will be no timed answers. Valenti said the format, which he devised with Fanto and Kratka, is designed to feature maximum interaction between and among candidates as well as testing their ability to think "on the fly."


Frieri Calls for Property Tax Reform, Relief for Homeowners

Frieri Campaign

RICHMOND, Mass. — Rosanne Frieri, a candidate for representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, is calling for immediate property tax reform and relief of homeowners.

"The property tax system is simply unjust to homeowners and does not have adequate checks and balances to protect homeowners from disproportionate assessments," said the Richmond Republican. "Property tax laws by design place every property owner at a distinct disadvantage." 

Frieri has met with property owners and reviewed multiple complaints that the Department of Revenue and other state agencies have largely ignored.

"It is outrageous that homeowners continue to have their property taxes raised in a market that has not just slid, but avalanched downhill since 2006. On top of that is a property tax system with outmoded laws that favor assessors and place every homeowner at substantial risk for an unfair assessment."

Frieri also cites another troubling trend of escalating property tax rates in small towns that offer few services. "What are these good citizens getting in return for the high property taxes they pay?" she asks.

Frieri lists a multitude of problems with the current property tax system, from assessors with no meaningful oversight to an Appellate Tax Board that has no enforcement power. Additionally, current laws force homeowners to pay their property tax bills in full on incorrect assessments or their right to appeal is disallowed, foreclosure sales are not factored into market value, and the appeals process is too complicated and costly.

According to Frieri, property tax issues are impacting everyone negatively, from business owners to homeowners to renters who have property tax increases passed on to them by their landlords. 

"Many people are unemployed, or on fixed incomes such as the elderly and our war veterans. Under the current property tax system, they are faced with losing their homes to seizure unless these skyrocketing property taxes are paid, and how are they supposed to pay them?" she asked. 

Frieri said she is committed to advocating property owners' rights and sponsoring bills to reform the property tax system, which has not undergone a major reform in over 30 years with many of the laws dating back to Colonial times.

Tags: Frieri, taxes      

Mark Endorsed by Mass NOW

Mark Campaign

DALTON, Mass. — Paul Mark, Democratic candidate for state representative in the Second Berkshire district, has received the endorsement of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Mass. NOW, founded in 1966, is the only multi-issue feminist organization in the state, which advocates for the rights of women and girls in Massachusetts. Their legislative priorities include ending violence against women, moving women out of poverty, reproductive freedom, civil rights for all people, and support for an adequate supply of affordable housing.

“The Mass NOW PAC is thrilled to endorse Paul Mark for State Representative,” said Christina Knowles, State Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. “As an advocate for labor and civil rights, Paul has shown his commitment to the issues that Mass NOW cares about and works on.  Paul has the leadership and experience needed to be an effective legislator, and we look forward to electing him to the State House.”

“A NOW endorsement signals that I’m the most ardent defender of issues of concern for women,” said Mark upon receiving the NOW endorsement. “Ensuring parity in pay, supporting reproductive health and freedom, and combating human trafficking— these are all real concerns in women’s
lives which I will immediately tackle in the legislature.”

Mass. NOW is a member group in the progressive coalition MassAlliance, which has also endorsed Mark and trained his campaign staff. Other supporting MassAlliance groups include the Mass Teachers Association, the UAW and the Service Employees International Union locals 509 and 1199, which represent human service providers, health care workers, and college staff.

In all, Mark has received endorsements from 23 diverse political and trade groups including nurses, police officers, ambulance workers, truck drivers and a variety of building trades. He has earned more political endorsements than all his opponents combined. A full list of Mark’s endorsements is at www.votepaulmark.com.

Tags: Mark      

Szczepaniak Calls for Budget and Rules Reform

Szczepaniak Campaign

DALTON, Mass. — Thomas Szczepaniak, candidate for state representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, is calling for reform of legislative rules and budget debate for the upcoming House session beginning in January. 

“Far too much of the people’s business is done behind closed doors and out of public view on Beacon Hill,” Szczepaniak said. “Many of the biggest decisions at the State House are made in secret.”

Because the Legislature has exempted itself from the state’s open-meeting and public records laws, deliberations are often done in private and hidden from the public. Szczepaniak noted that because one of the first orders of business to be considered by the 187th General Court will be the adoption of rules governing House sessions for the 2011-2012 term, “there will be an immediate opportunity to institute some reforms for more open state government.”

Szczepaniak said he would favor open party caucuses as exist in Colorado, Montana, Vermont and other states. “Clearly, legislators gather at caucuses to discuss the public's business and when they do, the public has a right to observe these discussions and to be informed about what happens at those meetings."

Szczepaniak listed several other reforms as top priorities including:

*Requiring recorded roll call votes on any tax or fee increase.
*Ending so-called ‘consolidated amendments’ to the annual state budget which are negotiated in back rooms off the House chamber which are not accessible to the public and the media.
*Streamlining the appropriations for the state court system to allow judicial managers to allocate resources where they are most needed.

“The recent patronage scandal in the Probation Department is yet another reminder that we need to stop micro-managing the judicial branch through the budget process. We are now the only state where the Legislature uses the budget process to exert control over the judiciary. Our judiciary is a separate, independent branch of government but is treated like a legislative step-child,” Szczepaniak said.

"Each court unit (superior, district, juvenile, housing, probate and family, etc.) should be given a line-item appropriation and be allowed to allocate those resources as judicial managers see fit rather than the Legislature dictating the funding levels and staffing decisions for each court across the state. The recent Court Management Advisory Board report called our state Probation Department ‘dysfunctional’ and I favor giving power back to judges to hire and supervise key court personnel including probation officers and assistant clerks," he continued.

Tags: Szczepaniak      
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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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