Berkshire Congressional Candidates Wrap Up Signature Push
Bill Shein of Alford, above, said he's closing in on the number of signatures. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., left, was the first candidate to submit signatures for the primary. Both are hoping to retire U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.
The former state senator from Pittsfield turned in his signatures to the secretary of the commonwealth's Springfield office Thursday.
In total, 2,249 signatures collected by his campaign were submitted. His campaign celebrated by launching a fundraising appeal later in the day asking for donations of $22.49.
"Being the first candidate to complete this monumental task is a clear sign of the strength of our organization and message," Nuciforo said at a press conference at the Springfield office. "Voters across central and Western Massachusetts have told me time, and time again that after 24 years, they're ready to send a strong Democrat to Washington that will stand up for woman's right to choose, and stand up against the Wall Street deregulation ushered on by Rep. [Richard] Neal."
"This is the first time Rep. Neal has had a meaningful primary challenge, so thanks to the dozens of volunteers, interns, family and friends that were out pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to secure my name on the Sept. 6 primary ballot, we're one step closer toward being represented by a real progressive."
Bill Shein's campaign is in the final stages of signature collecting, the Alford resident said at an appearance at a May Day rally held in Pittsfield on Tuesday. He described the campaign as "going quite well."
"I'm running against a couple of candidates, one of whom has an awful lot of money," Shein told supporters at the Park Square rally. Shein pointed out that a cornerstone of his platform has been the need to reform the influence of money in politics, which he said has become a leading issue in the campaign.
"Here I am, some guy from Alford, raising small money, and the conversation in the campaign for three and a half months now has been about the issues that I'm advancing. So I take that as a real sign that what we're talking about is something that people care a lot about."
These recent comments continue a running theme in challenges by the two Berkshire County candidates of their opponent, Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, which is shifting into the 1st Mass District. Neal, who has served the 2nd District since 1989, has a vast lead over Nuciforo and Shein in spendable campaign funds.
All three declared candidates in the race recently released campaign financing reports for the first quarter of 2012. Neal raised a total of $122,875 between January and March, compared to $42,493 for Nuciforo and $11,235 for Shein, but the latter candidates pointed to distinctions in the breakdown of income. A majority ($101,250) of Neal's quarterly gain came from committees and PACs, from whom his opponents say they will not accept contributions. Nuciforo pointed out that he outraised Neal 2 to 1 in individual contributions, while Shein, who only accepts donations of $99 or less, touted his more than $11,000 in unitemized individual contributions (under $200) over Neal's $4,125 in this small donation category.
Neal has repeatedly dismissed the notion that large donations from PACs influence his priorities in Congress.
"Successful political campaigns raise money to make sure their candidate's message is heard by voters," Neal spokesman William Tranghese said in a statement. "Congressman Neal is grateful to the many men and women in the district and neighboring states who donate to his campaign and are supporting his re-election."
Adams Selectmen Forum 2012ADAMS, Mass. — The five candidates running for two three-year terms on the board of Selectmen debated the issues on Saturday afternoon at the Adams Free Library. The election is Monday, May 7, at the town garage.
Laugenour Launching Green Party Bid For State Rep.
Photo by Susan Geller
L. Scott Laugenour in 2010.
Laugenour is gathering signatures and expects to host an official campaign launch in the coming months. After falling short in 2010 for the House's 4th Berkshire District, Laugenour says the campaign is "stronger" than ever before.
"We're stronger and more experienced," Laugenour said on Thursday. "The campaign is stronger, we are stronger. Our strength comes from the people."
A fundraiser last year has already put the party ahead, he said. Laugenour said he is starting this campaign with as much money as he spent all of the last election. With that, he has hired a campaign manager, which he lacked during the last run.
"We saw the need for an effective manager and are now strong enough to hire one," Laugenour said.
Laugenour plans to host an official launch at the end of May to take on Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who defeated Laugenour by a sound margin of 652-159 in 2010. Laugenour says the campaign is not "against" Pignatelli but more a shake up in "politics as usual" to increase the number of voices in government.
"We have a real deficit of democracy," Laugenour said, adding that at this point the 4th Berkshire District appears to be the only contested race. "It's not a campaign against anybody."
Laugenour was also involved in Mark Miller's campaigns in 2010 and in the 2011 special election for the 3rd Berkshire District. Miller fell less than 200 votes short last year of becoming the Green-Rainbow Party's first state representative, an increase from his 2010 bid in which he was barely 1,000 votes shy.
Laugenour said his campaign will be built on sustainable energy policy, health care reform and a general need for different voices.
"Politics as usual isn't serving the community," Laugenour said. "We're just in a downward spiral right now. It's a big money, corporate-dominated structure."
Laugenour says a single-payer health care system is the "obvious" solution to growing health care costs but it is not being enacted because of the "big money" in politics.
"Fifty percent of our budget goes to health care and the solution is obvious but is being thwarted," he said. "We're not making progress."
As for energy, Laugenour supports all types of green energy. While drilling for oil is not done much in Massachusetts, the country is drilling just as much as it always has despite an emphasis on green energy. The state needs to discuss even more green options.
"Is it wind, solar, geothermal? It's probably a combination of them all," Laugenour said. "Let's give our communities a goal to reduce their carbon footprint."
However, he opposes a controversial wind siting bill that officials claimed would streamline the permitting process for wind turbines because of the lack of local control.
"It was allowing a three-member panel to be the voice of the community," Laugenour said. "It's a little bit of a house of cards."
Laugenour said there needs to be more discussions and options for communities to pursue green energy.
"We're all about finding solutions," Laugenour said. "We're supercharged and excited."
Laugenour has just about enough signatures to place him on the ballot and he is just getting them certified now. He expects to be on the ballot on May 15.
Williamstown Selectmen Candidates Discuss IssuesWILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The two candidates for a three-year term for selectmen stressed at a forum on Wednesday night that serving the town was the most important factor in their runs.
"I think the best thing that people can do is exemplified by Justin [Adkins]," said Thomas Sheldon, chairman of the Selectmen, referencing his challenger in response to a question about how citizens can help the town. Getting involved, giving time and asking questions were the most important things, Adkins and Sheldon agreed.
'Williamstown is a perfect place for young people to start a business ... we have to keep building on that.' — Justin Adkins
"I hope the people of Williamstown are as impressed as I am by your desire to serve your community," said Hackner. "That's a remarkable thing and thanks to you both for mentioning that as your prime concern."
Adkins, assistant director of the Williams College Multicultural Center and a website developer for Brainspiral Technologies, moved to town about five years ago.
"One of the main reasons I moved to here is because I wanted to be somewhere where I could live according to the values that are most important to me," he said. "To be in a town where I can participate in all aspects of the town."
He's been involved with the Youth Center and high school, among other civic and community activities. His decision to run for selectman came on a rainy night last fall at Zuccotti Park with Occupy Wall Street. He was struck by the general assembly's similarity to town meeting: "It dawned on me one night ... that's why I live in Williamstown."
In response to questions about his youth, Adkins laughed that he's "inching up to 40; I look a lot younger than I am."
He stressed his experience at alma mater Marlboro (Vt.) College, which requires a lot of participation in governance, and his work with a large human services non-profit based in Texas. "I've held a lot of responsibility in my life," he said.
Sheldon, who was elected in his first run for selectman in 2009, has a 35-year career in the New York education system that saw him rise from intern to assistant deputy commissioner and then acting commissioner.
"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one." —Thomas Sheldon
He immediately begin volunteering at the Milne Public Library and has since tutored at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams and become involved with Images Cinema, currently as chairman of its board, and with the Sustaining Educational Excellence Fund at the high school and with Higher Ground, which is working on affordable housing and aiding Spruces Mobile Home Park residents left homeless by Hurricane Irene.
"It's been an interesting ride and, over the last year, a very exhilarating one," he said of his three years on the board of Selectmen. "I think there are significant challenges yet ahead so I decided after a lot of thinking to run again for a second three-year term."
Among the challenges he sees ahead are the capital planning for a new police station, the library, road work, working with the Mount Greylock Regional School District on repairs or rebuilding the high school and, especially, increasing affordable housing.
"That's a huge piece of unfinished business that's important to making this community more accessible to people, more diverse," said Sheldon of affordable housing efforts "closest to my heart." "We need that variety in our town."
Adkins agreed that affordability was paramount, noting that the town's 5 percent affordable housing rate was half that recommended by the state — and it didn't include the Spruces retirement community.
That made it harder for young people in their 20s and 30s to find places to live in Williamstown, he said, talking of his own difficulties in affording a place to live.
Sheldon and Adkins shake hands after the forum.
Sheldon said there have been a lot of missed opportunities and there was a need to make the town hospitable and attractive to businesses without compromising environmental imperatives.
"We also need to find the right balance point, generally speaking, between development and environment. We can't emphasize one to the exclusion of the other," he said, adding that for the forseeable future, "we will not be lacking for meaningful, challenging thought-provoking issues."
The election is Tuesday, May 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the elementary school gymnasium.
iBerkshires Hosting Selectmen's Debate At Library
The debate will be held at the Adams Free Library's Miller Annex on Saturday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m. The debate is expected to last about an hour and a half and is open to the public.
Depending on how technology treats us, we are hoping to live stream the debate on the front page of our website. If we can't livestream it, we will at least have the video clips posted after the event. We'll keep you posted on that. It will also be recorded by Northern Berkshire Community Television for a future showing.
Running for two seats on the board are incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, former Selectman Edward Driscoll and newcomers Richard Blanchard, John Duval and Jeremy Halek. Current board member Jason Hnatonko is not running for re-election. The election is on Monday, May 7.
The candidates will give opening remarks before fielding an array of questions. The moderator will be Editor Tammy Daniels. At least one question will come from iBerkshires Senior Reporter Andy McKeever, another from North Adams Transcript Reporter Phil Demers and the rest generated from you — yes, you.
iBerkshires is seeking questions to ask your next selectmen. Email, tweet (@iBerkshires), Facebook, whichever works best for you. We suggest sending them in early but we also will be checking during the debate. We'll be asking as many of your questions as we can before the candidates give their closing statements.
We'll see you there!