Marchetti Will Not Seek Recount in Close Mayor's Race
Peter Marchetti, seen here at his headquarters during the campaign, has decided not to ask for a recount in last Tuesday's close election for mayor. Candidates have until Nov. 18 to petition for recounts.
Speculation about a recount has been ongoing since the return of Tuesday night's results, which saw the four-term city councilor defeated by opponent Daniel Bianchi by a now official margin of 113 votes.
In 2009, Pittsfield went through a recount at the request of Bianchi, who lost to James Ruberto by an initial margin of 209 votes. The recount yielded an additional two votes for Bianchi, reducing the margin to 207.
"I entered this race because I truly wanted to bring us all together as 'One Pittsfield.' This would have been my objective as mayor, as it has been the goal of all my volunteer work and my public service throughout my career: to bring people together from every neighborhood and band together to find common solutions for the challenges we face as a community. Even in defeat, 'One Pittsfield' is still my goal and my aspiration," Marchetti said in his statement.
Marchetti said it was this hope for unity, along with the probability that a recount would produce no significant change, that lead to his decision:
"I do not wish the city to incur the expense of a process that is unlikely to change the outcome based on past precedent. Even more importantly, it is time for healing. Campaigns force us to draw contrasts between candidates and platforms. Voters benefit from being offered clear choices. The entire community will now benefit from ending the mayoral campaign season, enabling all of us to get to work on the important challenges that lie ahead."
Marchetti told iBerkshires following the election that he had "no intention of disappearing" from public life, regardless of which way he decided on a recount. This sentiment was echoed in today's statement.
"I have a great love and respect for this city and look forward to serving her in any way I can."
Personal Perceptions, not 'Party' Politics Swayed Votes
Signholders may have been more attuned to perceived factional lines than the average voter.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pundits and insiders had predicted an ultimate clash between the two polar sets of politicos and opposing visions for Pittsfield, with voters falling to one side or the other of this power struggle between pseudo-parties.
The story that unfolded as voters went to the polls and results came in Tuesday night, though, was one of varying loyalties and decisions based on personal perceptions of the candidates individually, rather than as part of a set.
Ramping up to election day, the theory emerging in conversations among insiders and in various blogs and online discussions was that the mayoral and most of the City Council candidates could be viewed as aligned with either one group or another- de facto parties which pundits on either side have dubbed "Good Old Boys" versus the "Legion of Doom." The GOB is supposed to be the pro-Ruberto, pro-Marchetti, pro-Tricia Farley-Bouvier, seen as also endorsing or including Peter White, Paul Capitanio, Jonathan Lothrop, Nicholas Caccamo, and in some scenarios newcomers Churchill Cotton, Christopher Connell, and Barry Clairmont.
The "Legion of Doom," as detractors of its supposed members call it, would be the pro-Bianchi, pro-Malumphy forces which are said to include allies Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, Jeffrey Ferrin, Joseph Nichols and Anthony Maffucio.
While there is certainly a notable level of co-support and agreement on issues between candidates in these two makeshift municipal political factions, there is reason to think that this distinction was much more significant to those close to the campaigns than it was to the average Pittsfield voter.
Many of the voters iBerkshires interviewed cast ballots based on personal experiences with the candidates.
No voters queried at any of the polls iBerkshires visited brought up differences such as those over PEDA, the Department of Cultural development, or the recent out-voted petition for a ballot question to poll residents on the eventual findings of the School Building Needs Commission, items which have all been issues raised in debates throughout the campaign. Though these issues did come up in conversations with sign-holding campaign supporters, voters passing through were more likely to cite differences in candidates' statements about the state of crime in Pittsfield, if they cited an issue at all.
Daniel Wotjkowski said he voted for Daniel Bianchi for mayor not out of any dislike for his opponent, but out of overwhelming personal admiration for the man himself. "Marchetti's a good guy, he's been a great city councilor with a lot of public service, and he's a sharp guy. But Dan is just such a good guy. He's really helped me and my family a lot."
Francis Wilk, who lives in Ward 2B, the final precint to report in what became a nail-biting wait in this ultra-close election, said he and Bianchi had been childhood friends, in the very neighborhood that decided the election. It was his lifelong experience of him as a person that made him the right choice, in Wilk's view. "Even when we were kids, Dan always had a great instinct for avoiding trouble."
Jonathan Lothrop, now the most senior member of the City Council following his 6-vote win in Ward 5, took some time to discuss his views on the nature of Tuesday's election results with iBerkshires. Lothrop, though not originally from Pittsfield, acknowledged that most of the individuals running for election on Tuesday are natives and have long-standing relationships in the city, both personal and political, in some cases going back to previous generations.
"This is a community where people know each other well. Families have histories together, people went to high school together, and that's a real retail-politics kind of reality, especially in Pittsfield, where you don't have a huge amount of migration in or out. There's an awful lot of people who've been here for generation after generation after generation."
Both Daniel Bianchi and John Krol, purportedly on 'opposite sides,' did well in Ward 6.
For example, Marchetti's slight lead in Ward 3 hardly mirrors the landslide victory in the same ward for Paul Capitanio, who has been accused by critics of consistently voting with the "GOB" majority. Nor can Bianchi's large lead in Ward 6 be chalked up to anti-GOB political sentiments where ardent Ruberto supporter John Krol ran unopposed and is considered hugely popular.
With six of eight incumbents who ran returning to the council and a razor-thin margin in the mayoral race, Tuesday's election looks less like the full scale anti-establishment revolt predicted by some pundits and more like a jigsaw puzzle of many different personal relationships, professional encounters, campaign perceptions, and sometimes even views on the business of running a city.
Though with an estimated 42 percent of registered voters turning out, less than a third of the total population of Pittsfield, as one after-party supporter pointed out, "It's hard to know what the rest of the city thinks."
Breault Takes Out Recall Petition For Pittsfield Ward 5
According to City Clerk Linda Tyer, Breault would need signatures from 10 Ward 5 voters to force the city to recount the Ward 5 tally. Breault lost to incumbent Jonathan Lothrop for the City Council Ward 5 seat by an unofficial margin of 773-767.
Tuesday's election was filled with closes races — including the mayoral seat that was divided by less than 1 percent. Peter Marchetti lost by only 106 votes, according to the unofficial results, and had not ruled out asking for a recount on Tuesday night. As of Wednesday afternoon, Marchetti had not taken out recount paperwork.
A citywide recount would require 10 signatures from each ward, Tyer said. Because of the close races, Tyer said she called the secretary of state for direction and was told the city is not legally required to do a recount unless a candidate asks for one.
Pittsfield Election Results 2011
*Peter White ran a write-in campaign. The total of 339 is the total write-in votes.
Alcombright Wins Second Term as Mayor
Mayor Richard Alcombright gives the crowd a thumbs-up before his victory speech at campaign headquarters on Main Street.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Incumbent Richard Alcombright fended off a strong challenge by City Council President Ronald Boucher to earn a second term in the corner office with a "spectacular" victory.
Alcombright wound up the race with 2,333 votes to Boucher's 1,377, nearly the same margin he won by two years ago. The turn out wasn't as high but still clocked in at an impressive 42 percent according to unofficial results.
"It resonated today that what we're doing is good, what we're doing is right and I think the majority of the people said that today," said Alcombright, moments after finding out he'd won.
The former councilor took the helm of the city two years ago after ousting longtime mayor John Barrett III, who himself won a City Council seat in this election.
Surrounded by green-clad, cheering supporters, Alcombright thanked voters and others for giving him another term.
"Two years ago, we ran a people-powered campaign that will long be remembered in this city and tonight after two years, after facing down some of the most difficult finanical and economic times in our nation's history, I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me to do what's right for our city," he said, standing on the stage at the former Petrino's Cafe on Main Street.
The faces were far more sober at the American Legion, where the red-shirted supporters of Boucher had gathered with hopes of a victory party.
Supporters lined up to congratulate the winner.
"I think we were a little bit too late at the end," said Boucher. "I think we had a strong last two weeks, I think that first debate hurt me a little bit; the second debate helped us ... I just believe the voters spoke tonight and they're happy with the administration, the way the city's moving and I respect that."
He asked the mayor to listen to the residents "because the people are hurting and don't forget them that's all, they're all important."
The six-term councilor said he'd been considering since last year not running again but was attracted by the idea of running for mayor. He didn't start his campaign until late in the summer, but spent that short time attacking what he saw as Alcombright's failed campaign promises. If anything, he exhibited a more aggressive style of leadership than the incumbent's pledges to "keep plugging along."
Alcombright's had some ups and downs over his short tenure as he's grappled with the city's financial woes. He's made progress in stabilizing North Adams' fiscal health and in developing fruitful relationships with surrounding communities. But he stumbled on the controversial Proposition 2 1/2 override and on the Sullivan School project, both of which Boucher called him to task on.
A preliminary election in September, despite the voting difficulties, indicated that Alcombright was going to be tough to defeat and his campaign motto of "progress" were hitting hom.
Despite their opposing views, they were friends on the council and friendly during the campaign. A crowd of supporters for both roared their approval on election eve as the candidates walked into the Main Street intersection to shake hands after a standout.
"We've been friends a long time," said Alcombright. "We ran a race on the issues."
Boucher said he'd told Alcombright he and his supporters "will continue to help progress North Adams."
The mayor said he'll get back to work at 8 a.m. on Wednesday while Boucher, a sales executive for EcoLab, will serve out his term as council president and on the Hoosac Water Quality District. He didn't rule out running for office again but said he'll take a break for now.
"I spent 12 years giving to the community and it thought I'd give it a shot," he said of the mayor's race. "I'm happy with everything. I would have loved to have won but it wasn't the most important thing." Rather, he said, it ensuring residents were listened to.
Alcombright supporter Richard Taskin called the victory "spectacular."
"There are very few mayors in the United States of America under the current economic conditions who could have made the decisions that this man did who could be re-elected by the margin he won tonight," he said. "They trust this man, they trust him to do what's right."
Ronald Boucher, talking with one of his biggest supports Robert Cardimino, said he wanted the mayor to remember to listen to residents.
He estimated he'd shaken at least 2,000 hands of voters coming in and out the polling stations and had expected far better results than 11th.
All six incuments — Lisa Blackmer, David Bond (who received the most votes at 2,210), Michael Bloom, Alan Marden, Marie Harpin and Keith Bona — were re-elected. Joining them will be Barrett, Jennifer Breen-Kirsch and Nancy Bullett.
Mary Lou Accetta and Lawrence Taft were easily re-elected; joining them will be David Lamarre, currently a city councilor. George Canales, running unopposed, was re-elected to the McCann School Committee.