Markey, Gomez Reel In U.S. Senate Campaign Nominations
The polls closed at 8 p.m. in Adams.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and U.S. Rep. Edward Markey will face off in the special election for U.S. Senate.
The two men — one a veteran congressman, the a other newcomer to the political scene — are vying for the unexpired term of John Kerry, who was appointed U.S. secretary of state in January.
Markey defeated U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin. Gomez defeated former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow with 50 percent of the vote compared to 36 percent to 13 percent, respectively.
Markey had even stronger support in the Berkshires, where he reeled in 76 percent of the vote. Gomez also had a strong showing with 56 percent of the Berkshire vote.
Both Markey and Lynch made at least two appearances in the Berkshires; Gomez was the only Republican to stop in the county.
In the largest municipality, Pittsfield, voters resoundly chose Markey over Lynch by 1,981 to 577. Gomez earned 302 votes, or 58 percent, of the Republican vote to Sullivan's 143 and Winslow's 72.
Of 27,564 registered voters, only 3,079 ballots were cast — an 11 percent turnout.
The races were closer in the other Berkshire city, North Adams, where Democratic voters chose Markey over Lynch by 1,122 to 736. Gomez was the top Republican vote-getter with 242 votes compared to Sullivan's 137 and Winslow's 63.
In Adams, Markey won 390-160 over Lynch. Gomez also took Adams with 82 votes compared to Sullivan's 34 and Winslow's 10. A total of 678 of 5,852 registered voters (11 percent) went to the ballot box.
Markey had a resounding lead in Williamstown, with 820 votes compared to Lynch's 117. Gomez also won in Williamstown with 72 votes over Sullivan's 31 and Winslow's 20. A total of 1,065 of 4,600 registered voters cast ballots.
The turnout was reportedly low across the state with a race that's stirred up little interest. There have been few if any yard signs and few supporters at standing at the polls.
After two heated elections — the first that saw Republican Scott Brown win a stunning victory to replace the late Democratic icon Ted Kennedy and the second hard-fought run that saw him ousted after barely two years in office by Elizabeth Warren — voters may be weary of Senate battles.
Gomez and Markey will face off in the special election June 25; the winner will have to run in another election for a full term next year.
Markey is the dean of the state’s congressional delegation representing 5th Congressional district since 1976. He was considered the favorite almost immediately after entering the race by picking up key endorsements from high-ranking Democrats and organizations — including Kerry himself.
The 66-year-old Malden resident has mostly been associated with energy policies, being the former chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warning and currently sitting on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Natural Resources.
On other issues, Markey has aligned himself with Democratic leaders and campaigned in the Berkshires saying he is the best choice to further Democratic policies, including supporting health care reform and pro-choice measures.
The Gomez nomination sets up a battle between the experience politician vs. the outsider. Gomez is in his first campaign for public office and has campaigned on his military and business background — which he did during his campaign stop in the Berkshires.
Gomez is a first-generation American after his parent emigrated from Colombia to California. He went became a Navy pilot and later went through SEAL (Sea, Air, Land Teams) training. He became a class leader and after retiring from the Navy went to Harvard Business School. He then worked 16 years at an investment firm.
Economically, he supports conservative policies but has taken a moderate stance on social issues.
Five Candidates Aim For U.S. Senate Nominations
|Five candidates are running in Tuesday's primary to determine who will face off to fill the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Voters across the state will be picking the two candidates for a special election to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.
Patton Hopes to Bring Compassion, Reason to Selectmen
|Jane Patton, seen here at a Selectmen's meeting last fall, hopes to focus attention on family issues to the Selectmen. She and Selectman Ronald Turbin are running for the two three-year seats on the board.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In all likelihood, Jane Patton on Tuesday will earn a spot on the town's Selectmen without a contest.
It may be the least contentious thing that happens with the panel this year.
Patton seeks to join the five-member board at a time when the town is deeply divided over the issue of whether to use a portion of currently conserved town land to develop affordable housing.
The five-month debate over the fate of the so-called Lowry property is not the reason Patton decided to get involved in town government. But she recognizes the debate likely will continue to be a focus for the Selectmen in the months ahead.
"In talking with the other selectmen, they tell me that sometimes [town government] is all rather mundane," Patton said last week. "All this has some meat to it. And it's going to have some lasting impact."
Patton is unopposed for one open seat on the Board of Selectmen. She is seeking to replace Selectman Tom Costley, who chose not to seek re-election after two terms. The ballot for Tuesday's town election also includes Selectman Ronald Turbin, who is seeking a third term on the board.
In all, there are 12 positions on the ballot, and 12 residents have filed papers to fill those seats.
The dearth of contested races normally would be a harbinger of low turnout on Tuesday. But the balloting also will include the statewide primary to narrow the field of candidates for the special election to fill the unexpired term of former U.S. Sen. John Kerry. The Democratic primary has U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch and Edward Markey on the ballot; the Republican, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow.
Williamstown is one of several in the state that moved its town election to coincide with the primary.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Williamstown Elementary School. The results of the town election will be confirmed at the May 21 annual town meeting.
Patton, a businesswoman and mother of two, said she decided to make her first foray into town politics because she wants to give back to the community.
"I want to dig in, be part of the community and try to be somebody who can have some kind of positive impact," she said. "I have no agenda."
Patton first moved to Williamstown in 2000 but left to live in New York City before returning 4 1/2 years ago, she said. She and her partner decided to put down roots in the Village Beautiful because that is where they wanted to raise their now 4-year-old twin daughters, Patton said.
"Emily is a Williams graduate and always thought she wanted to raise kids here," Patton said. "What a great place to raise kids. Everybody knows your kids, and you're all looking out for each other.
"We're constantly taking them to football games, or we're headed to the softball games (at Williams) this afternoon after a birthday party. There's always something to do."
In addition to helping to raise the couple's children, Patton does marketing and public relations for Hops and Vines Beer Garden and Brasserie on Water Street. She also serves on the boards of the Berkshire Humane Society, Williamstown Film Festival and Sand Springs Recreational Center.
Patton's professional experience includes a stint doing sales and marketing for Victoria's Secret in New York, where she was responsible for a billion dollars worth of inventory, she said.
"I'm a businesswoman who multitasks — like all moms," Patton said.
She hopes to bring both perspectives to the Board of Selectmen, where one of her focuses will be addressing issues that affect families in town.
"I'm certainly interested in anything that involves families and kids," Patton said. "I've certainly been paying attention to what's happening at the high school. That's why I'm involved with Sand Springs."
And, like any civically aware citizen in town, Patton has been following the issues involving subsidized housing. And she agrees with the current board's recommendation to last week's special town meeting that it table the articles dealing with the Lowry and Burbank properties.
"I've paid attention to what's going on with the housing discussions," she said. "I'm not an expert. I fully support making well-rounded, thoughtful decisions expeditiously.
"We can't be, 'ready, aim, aim, aim, aim ... .' I'm all about making sure we know what the best options are and really want to make sure we're understanding from the Spruces folks what their needs are and showing respect for the folks who are passionate about conservancy.
"I believe there is a workable solution to every situation. ... That's how I conduct myself really with everything. I want to make sure I have the facts and keep emotions out of it, which is challenging. I want to be compassionate but not emotional, if that makes sense."
Young Seeks To Bring 'New Blood' To Adams Selectmen
Michael Young is looking to be the youngest member of the Board of Selectmen.
ADAMS, Mass. — Michael Young has just spent his last four years studying the ins and outs of politics and, growing up in Adams, he says he also knows the ins and outs of the town.
He is looking to mesh that together to make Adams a place where young families want to live. The 22-year-old is the youngest candidate for the Board of Selectmen and that is why he feels he can move the town forward.
"I bring young blood, new ideas and I'm not afraid to say no to ridiculous ideas," Young said on Thursday, adding that he has the ambition to "get things done."
He says the biggest problem facing Adams is that there is "nothing to do." Residents in neighboring communities have no real reason to spend time and money in town and those who do come from out of state to hike Mount Greylock, have no reason to stay downtown afterward.
"There is nothing to do here. There is nothing to make people want to live in Adams," Young said.
He says he will push to lower the tax rate across the board to give an incentive for companies to open. He says he will go through the budget and find things the town "doesn't need" to lower it.
"You need to lower the property taxes as much as you can to allow more people and businesses to come in," he said, adding that it will take a few years before the tax base broadens.
But, he isn't looking for one big employer. Young says he wants to see many small businesses — from lodging to restaurants to unique shops — that can be a draw. The expected opening of a hibachi grill in the Mausert Block is an example of a the types of businesses he'd like to see because "you can't get that anywhere else."
Further, the town should capitalize on the fact that Mount Greylock is in Adams. Living on the "best side of Mount Greylock" should be marketed and boasted about, he said.
"People don't want a huge warehouse in Adams," Young said. "People around here like nature and they want to be out in it."
The Greylock Glen project will be a big boost to attracting visitors, he said, and supports the efforts of a campground and hiking trails. However, he has reservations about the amphitheater plan because he can't see the market for it.
"If the want comes up, I don't have a problem with it," he said.
The expansion of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has proven to be a boon by attracting visitors and Young supports the efforts to continue its expansion to North Adams. However, he isn't sold on the scenic rail because "there isn't anything scenic that people would want to see" in that section.
Young also believes education needs to be supported because "as a whole it isn't what it used to be." However, that is mostly controlled by the state, he said.
Young grew up in Adams and returned home after studying political science at Andrews University in Michigan. He hopes to stay in politics and thinks his home is "a great place to start."
"I feel I can do a lot of good," he said.
He is one of four vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. The election is on May 6. Also running for the seats are Joseph Nowak, Richard Blanchard and Donald Sommer.
This is the fourth and final in a series about candidates for selectman in Adams.
Blanchard In Third Campaign For Adams Selectmen Seat
Richard Blanchard says he will be an independent voice for the people of Adams if he is elected to the Board of Selectmen.
ADAMS, Mass. — Richard Blanchard wants to do what is best for Adams and not for any particular group.
The retired military man is seeking a spot on the Board of Selectmen in his third campaign for a seat. Blanchard, a guard at the Silvio O. Conte Federal Building in Pittsfield, is looking to bring an "independent voice" to the board.
"I am an individual and I would vote that way. I am more concerned with Adams than I am with any special group," Blanchard said on Wednesday.
Blanchard said the town is financially in a good place but the taxpayers are not. He hopes that to join the board to increase the number of businesses and residents to spread out the funding required to run the community. To do that, he feels that the board should get more involved with other organizations.
"It's a military thing, these are team things and we need to get everybody on the team," he said.
He used the school district as an example. School officials are trying to lobby for an overhaul of state legislation that mandates how charter schools are funded and increase Chapter 70 funding. Blanchard said the town should get involved with that effort because it helps it in the end.
At the Greylock Glen, he supports the town's efforts in building a campground, amphitheater, educational center and conference building but wants the local colleges and towns to help. If Adams can attract somebody to the amphitheater, then maybe they'll want to visit Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams after, he said.
"Working together is different than follow the leader," Blanchard said.
He likes the idea of the town branding itself as a recreational center and can envision concerts at the Glen drawing people to the downtown.
"They need a reason to move here. You have to have something to draw people," he said, adding that the various recreational activities can spur niche businesses. "You have to create the market."
But beyond pushing those developments, Blanchard feels there is more to be done to support struggling taxpayers now and make it easier for businesses to move to Adams.
"We don't need to own as many buildings as we do," Blanchard said. "We're not in the land management business."
A few years ago, Blanchard said he found that the town owns some 15 unused lots in desirable locations but they have yet to go on the market. Adams needs to look at selling off land and buildings, he said, instead of having every department have its own building, some departments can work in leased space, he said.
That includes the Adams Visitors Center, which the town had taken over when the Berkshire Visitors Bureau moved out. He says the town has already spent money to repair the heating system, change out a wall and the roof is leaking. If the town can sell it and either move the Council on Aging somewhere else or lease that space from the new owner, they wouldn't have to worry about capital repairs.
"Our town departments don't have to be in town-owned buildings," he said.
However, the Memorial Middle School isn't even worth selling. With somewhere between $3 million and $5 million in repairs needed, Blanchard says the town should just give it away.
"I don't particularly care for the way it is going. If someone has an idea and a dollar, give it to them and see what they can do with it," Blanchard said.
He thinks the town should go outside of the region and market the town buildings for sale. But additionally, he wants to make it easier for a company to move to Adams. He said a company was recently interested in a vacant paper mill but the town required a sprinkler system above state codes and the company backed away.
Blanchard says he doesn't want to jeopardize safety but the town could be "less rigid" when it comes to the requirements they put on buildings.
Meanwhile, he says the town's Highway Department vehicles need to be replaced and should be a priority, but recognizes that those are big-ticket items. He questions if the cruiser replacement schedule of the Police Department could be scaled back to open money for other purchases.
The 48-year-old is in his third campaign for the seat. He fell short in the last two elections and this time is one of four vying for two seats. He is running against Michael Young, Donald Sommer and Joseph Nowak.
Blanchard said he has been interested in town politics but it wasn't until he retired from the military that he had the time to dedicate to it. In recent years, Blanchard boasts that he has sat in on just about every Board of Selectmen meeting.
"I always loved Adams and I want to help move it along," he said. "I just want to do what I can for the town."
This is the third in a series of profiles for the candidates for the selectmen in Adams.