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Alcombright Questions Proposed Sewer Fee Cuts

Alcombright Campaign
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Candidate Richard Alcombright, who is running for a second term as mayor, responds to his opponent's pledge to cut the sewer fee:

In his most recent communication, Councilor Boucher states that he will reduce the sewer fee by 50 percent. He further stated that I promised at the time of the adoption of the fee that it would be placed in an enterprise fund to be used for infrastructure improvements. For the record, that was not what was presented nor was it what the Council voted on. But that aside, let me state the hard reality of Mr. Boucher's last-minute campaign promise.

While the sewer fee was controversial and one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, it has been used to offset the approximately $1 million assessment that the city receives each year from the Hoosac Water Quality District. This years' budget reflects a sewer fee revenue line item of $745,000 which is approximately 42 percent of our water revenue. Should Mr. Boucher cut this revenue line item by 50 percent as stated, $372,500 will be slashed from our local receipts.

Mr. Boucher's promise to cut the sewer fee with absolutely no plan as to how to replace the revenue or cut the budget seems very irresponsible. The reality here is that the FY2012 budget has been set and expenses have been allotted based on anticipated revenues (to include the sewer fee). Does this mean mid-cycle cuts in the school and municipal budget and what will those cuts be? Additionally, if Councilor Boucher is that adamantly opposed to the sewer fee, why not remove it entirely? How far back will this take us?

I have stated time after time that I have not made any of my fiscal decisions in a vacuum. They have been made in consultation with city finance department heads, the City Council Finance Committee, our external auditors and the Department of Revenue.  I have made significant strides in reducing our deficits through a combination of cuts coupled with increases in revenue and the institution of efficiencies. Please believe me when I tell you....cutting the sewer fee will only add to further cuts in the budget and further reduction in services. And while no one likes a sewer fee, it plays a vital role in the funding of services in our city.

Barbalunga Asks for 2 More Years on School Committee

Barbalunga Campaign
PITTSFIELD, Mass. —  Statement from Alf Barbalunga, candidate for School Committee.

It has been two years, and I continue to be excited about my work on the city of Pittsfield School Committee. If you believe I have served competently, please support me for re-election. 

The school department spends 45 cents of every dollar the city takes from you in taxes. My highest priorities are to ensure your hard earned money is spent wisely, and our community is kept safe. Public safety and reduced crime rates go hand-in-hand with a quality education. As some of you know it took me a long time to get back to the Berkshires, and I’m not going anywhere. I am committed to doing my part to promote Pittsfield's future growth. If you believe merited and award me your vote, I will be honored to give you another two years of service.

Thirty-one year resident of Pittsfield and the only candidate under the age of 40
Attended Pittsfield Public Schools, K-12
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Total Quality Management
Community Development (Planning) Board Clerk, 12-plus years

Massachusetts Trial Court, Probation Service Chief
20-plus years Public Safety career
Previously employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer working in the Pittsfield schools
Chairman of the Safety & Transportation subcommittee

Only School Committee member who voted against across the board management pay raises
Only subcommittee member who voted against the outright spending of more than $3 million dollars on the purchase of a new citywide fleet of school busses
Berkshire Brigades Democratic Organization committee member
Continues to not accept campaign donations

AFL-CIO / Local 1134
AFL-CIO / Local 285
SEIU / Local 254 - Shop Steward
SEIU-NAGE / Locals 229 & 118 - Regional Steward


Boucher Vows to Cut Sewer Tax in Half

Boucher Campaign
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This is the fourth installment of mayoral candidate Ron Boucher sharing his views and ideas on important issues facing the city of North Adams. The below discussion focuses on the reduction of the sewer fee implemented by the current administration by over 50 percent.

"When the City Council originally voted to institute this fee, I was in favor of this because the mayor promised part of the fee would be placed in an enterprise fund for infrastructure improvements. This has not occurred, and instead the money has been used for pay raises, which is completely unacceptable. With the lack of an enterprise fund being set up as per the original plan, why should the people pay for something they are not getting."

"I am proposing an immediate reduction in the sewer fee, from 42 percent to 21 percent, a reduction by half. This would help immediately alleviate the financial burden on property owners. Now people will ask how can we do this and still balance the budget? The truth of the matter is that this fee is already built into our tax base, like the city of Pittsfield, and is not being correctly backed out by the current administration. Residents are being double hit and in these trying economic times that is neither ethical nor acceptable."

"Please remember, Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. I would like to ask one final time for your vote for to lead the city of North Adams."

The campaign to elect Ron Boucher Mayor of North Adams would like to extend an invitation to the public to stop by his campaign headquarters at 107 Main St. You can also learn more about Ron Boucher, his campaign and views by visiting his website at www.VoteBoucher2011.com or emailing him at VoteBoucher2011@yahoo.com.

Boucher Shares Economic Views

Boucher Campaign
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This is the third installment of mayoral candidate Ron Boucher sharing his views and ideas on important issues facing the city of North Adams. The below discussion focuses on the economic development for the city.

"North Adams has been faced with reduced population, increased taxes and fees, and reduced services and educational cutbacks. This leads to a vicious circle leading to a downward spiral into economic disaster. Long-term, this economic model cannot be sustained. Real economic development is the only model which offers the promise of sustained economic growth. The MoCA-based artist community is a nice addition, and can help, but offers little for most residents in terms of good-paying, non-service-related careers. My plans for economic development should be consistent with the blue-collar work ethic of the city, as well as accepting input from the community. 

I propose the following:

Offer tax incentives for industrial development keyed to real job creation. Create an economic development zone. Consider medium-term tax abatements.

Make subsidized commercial space available to existing and new businesses on a quid-pro-quo basis.  No giveaways, subsidies should be based on countable new jobs created over a medium-term time period. The program needs to be carefully monitored to avoid abuse.

Partner with Northern Berkshire HealthCare to create medical related jobs.

Use the natural resources of the area:
  • Water
  • Railroad: A valuable asset, currently falling into disuse and neglected
  • Forest Products
  • Eco-tourism, which can bring publicity to the area
  • Air Quality
  • Quality of Life
  • Partner with schools. MCLA, obviously, and possibly Williams College. There are public spirited academics with real expertise who are willing to help on a volunteer basis.
Critical housing problem. Much existing housing is derelict and beyond useful economic life, and should be razed. Housing which is still viable should be turned to productive uses and returned to tax rolls.

Marketing. Create a regional and national marketing program to attract viable, economically sensible industry. Foreign investment is also a possibility which should be researched.

Approach investment bankers and private equity firms in Boson and New York for potential interest and/or assistance

"Please remember, Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.  I would like to take this time to ask for your vote, to assist in bringing real economic development back to this city.”

The campaign to elect Ron Boucher Mayor of North Adams would like to extend an invitation to the public for Ron's 2nd Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser at the American Legion on Nov. 2, and also to stop by his new campaign headquarters at 107 Main St. 

You can also learn more about Ron Boucher, his campaign and views by visiting his website at www.VoteBoucher2011.com or emailing him at VoteBoucher2011@yahoo.com

Marchetti Delineates 5-Point Vision for Pittsfield

Marchetti Campaign
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Candidate for mayor Peter Marchetti lays out his Vision for Pittsfield in a series of position statements concerning job creation, education, the arts, neighborhoods and communication from the mayor's office.

As the campaign season comes to a close, Marchetti, a councilor at-large, has identified five major areas that he feels need attention and looks forward to working with the public, the City Council, School Committee and boards and commissions in the city of Pittsfield to work out details for a forward-looking vision for our city.

"As we've come a long way as a city, we must also look to the future," said Marchetti, who seeks to engage in the discussion that will bring the city of Pittsfield into the next generation. All parts of Pittsfield can come together and have a part in the discussion. Everyone is encouraged to join the conversation with a Marchetti administration in City Hall. 

Marchetti has served Pittsfield in so many ways over the last two decades. As a member of the City Council, leading the Fourth of July Parade or serving on boards and commissions, including Traffic and Conservation, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Board, the PCTV Board and the Morningside Initiative, he has grown in all of these activities and they have provided him a wealth of experience that effectively can be applied to being Mayor of Pittsfield.

First, Job Creation:

I will develop an incentive program, utilizing a portion of the GE economic development funds, to support our existing businesses to grow and provide jobs. I will establish a small business trust fund that will be used as needed to foster steady growth of our existing companies while pursuing more companies to locate here. With wise use of the GE economic development funds and support from the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., both can be accomplished.

I will work to streamline our permitting processes for business expansion. My administration will build closer relationships between the city's Economic Development Office, PEDA, PERC the Chamber, and the business community at large to fully tap the potential of the William Stanley Business Park. I will see to it that clearly established procedures are put into practice to enhance communication. In the current national economy, we must all be prepared to move quickly and decisively to capitalize on new opportunities. I see opportunities to strengthen locally owned businesses with a focus on new technology fields and our own plastics industry.

Part 2, Education: 

Despite a challenging economy, we must embrace where we are and take the opportunity for our public schools to take a giant leap forward. I would like to see a modernized vocational/technical high school teaching our students to succeed in a rapidly changing work environment. We need to be responsive to business leaders who can help us read and anticipate changing market trends. I also intend to work with BCC to increase adult learning programs for the same reasons. For too long we've had jobs looking for trained workers and workers who don't fit those jobs. I will work very closely with legislators to find the ways and the means to support this effort.

I am heartened by improvements in our MCAS scores, a reduced drop-out rate, and I am well aware of the shortcomings of our current high school facilities. I want to see two dynamic high schools meeting the needs of our community, and keeping our youth here in Pittsfield schools to reverse the tide of school-choice dollars leaving our community.

Connecting our educational system, our business and collegiate communities, and our city government can build internship programs to bring our students into the workplace and the workplaces to our students.  As Mayor, and a member of the Pittsfield School Committee, I will work with Dr. Eberwein and the school administration to strengthen and expand intern and co-op programs. I will also reach out to MCLA and the University of Massachusetts to explore ways in which they may contribute. We want our kids to dream, and we want to give them the tools to help them realize their dreams. There are definitely roles for the business community as well as our arts and culture economy to play in this effort. I am pleased to announce that I am the candidate of choice for the UEP.

Part 3, The Arts: 

I will work closely with our growing and engaged arts community to promote our creative economy. This will grow Pittsfield as a magnet for tourists to visit, see one of the great shows being performed at one of our theaters, shop, dine, and stay while bringing in increasing tax revenues. As well, we must keep looking for the right balance so people from all walks of life can enjoy the fruits of having this wonderful arts and cultural community within our midst.

This is becoming one of the great selling points to Pittsfield. We will build on this. Add to it our natural beauty, and we are a clear destination city. There's no question that the arts and culture have a huge impact on our schools as well.

Part 4, Neighborhoods: 

We can easily expand on the successes of our Neighborhood Initiatives citywide. We have proven in Morningside, the West Side and Downtown that we can build pride, beautify large areas of the city, establish community watches, and make everyone feel they are a part of being safe. Police and fire protection for all areas of the city will not be compromised.

Over time, as mayor, we will focus on improving the roadways and sidewalks citywide. I want to see safe and drug-free streets, closer relationships among neighborhood associations and overall better communication with City Hall. We have learned that neighbors helping neighbors are the best building blocks to a better Pittsfield. Positive and optimistic approaches can have tremendous results with everyone pitching in a little. City government can help in so many ways. Trust and communication are the keys to our success over time. 

Regularly scheduled neighborhood meetings around the city with ward and at-large councilors can also improve communication and generate ideas that can work for various areas of the city.

Part 5, Communication:

I intend to strengthen and encourage communication among everyone. I will restart the mayor's "From the Corner Office"show prior to council meetings to explain my initiatives and some of the processes.  Voters need to know some of the background and thinking of the mayor and his administration as new programs and policies are being developed, approved and executed. More information is always better, timely information is crucial.

We are all equal parts of Pittsfield and I think we all need optimism, hope and inclusiveness. People from all walks of Pittsfield can enjoy an honored and respected seat at the table when I become mayor.  One of the most important roles that a mayor can play is to build positive and beneficial relationships between and among all the segments of our community. There is so much to celebrate about Pittsfield and I will lead the effort to make more of us to feel better and more of a "stake" in Pittsfield's future.

Times are difficult in this economy, but with good solid financial management, true efforts to solicit input and accentuate the positive, we can rise to the challenges we face together, and build a more unified Pittsfield. As with any plan or vision, this is a living statement of principles which can and should change and be updated all the time. Visions are long-term, long view, and necessarily involve inspiration and input. Vision statements also should be fluid and dynamic enough to change with the times and take advantage of evolving circumstances. The city of Pittsfield can achieve so much over time with the right combination of positive attitude, team building and hopeful outlook. Working together, we can all build a path to a Pittsfield that will continue to grow and unify and thrive. We can build "One Pittsfield" together.

My private sector work, my community involvement and business experience, and eight years of local government service, have given me the perspectives to serve the people of the city of Pittsfield well.  Our system of government has been established to serve a constructive role. We all have to work together to see that private, cultural and public sectors collaborate in a way that will benefit everyone. As your mayor, I will listen carefully and respectfully to everyone who wants to help Pittsfield to prosper.

I ask for your vote and support on Nov. 8 so that I may have the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Pittsfield. "One Pittsfield." Please join in the conversation about our future.
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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

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

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