Pittsfield Candidates Pledge to Support Tyler Street Growth
The candidates were invited to present their views at a meet-and-greet for Morningside area voters hosted by the Tyler Street Business Group.
A small but engaged crowd of voters attended the event, working their way around the tables set up where candidates were on hand to introduce themselves, ask questions, and take campaign materials such as fliers and stickers.
Pre-written statements were collected from each of the candidates by Dianna Marcella, president of the business group, and read at the function.
Ward 1 City Councilor Christine Yon, who is running unopposed, called Tyler Street "funky and charming" and "a piece of the puzzle" that is Pittsfield.
Pete White, current Ward 2 councilor who is running for re-election as a write-in candidate this year, called it "an important business district" and that having lived near it most of his life, "Tyler is home."
Kevin Morandi, who is making a second bid for the Ward 2 seat, said that if elected, he will advocate for and support efforts to expand downtownto Tyler. He cited opening the Woodlawn Street bridge as one priority.
Mayoral candidate Daniel Bianchi, who grew up on Tyler Street, said the street's "future can be a bright one," and will be one focus of his "Plan for Pittsfield."
Peter Marchetti, a current city councilor also seeking election to the mayor's office, said he, too, sees Tyler Street as an extension of downtown and that, as a resident, he has always seen it as an area of "local business flavor and caring residents."
Council at-large candidate Nicholas Caccamo called it the place where "commerce meets health," and drew chuckles from attendees with a reference to the delicious menu offerings at Café Reva's.
Council hopefuls Jason Clairmont touted the importance of Tyler Street's "essential goods and services" while Churchill Cotton called it "the spine from which the Morningside area gets its strength."
Anthony Maffuccio, who's hoping to return to the council as an at-large candidate, called it a "forgotten North Street," saying we need to "market it as one of our great hubs."
Councilor at-large incumbent Melissa Mazzeo spoke of how much she enjoyed Tyler Street as a place where one could go to a bakery, go to church, get their hair done, and shop for furniture all within walking distance.
Joseph Nichols, a councilor at large who running for re-election as a write-in candidate, called it "a fountain of memories" and a "cornerstone of future growth." He said he was pleased with the growth and attention it has received in the past couple of years.
Kevin Sherman, also running for re-election as an at-large councilor, called it a "gateway and business district" that "needs support to continue to grow."
Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Democratic candidate for 3rd Berkshire District state representative, also attended, telling the organizers that no matter who was elected, "now you can remind them that they promised to pay attention to Tyler Street."
Bianchi Sets Meeting to Unveil 'Plan For Pittsfied'
"Throughout this campaign, I have been overwhelmed by the number of suggestions and concerns that voters have about issues in Pittsfield. I have done my best to incorporate their feedback — and my vision for Pittsfield — into a comprehensive plan for Pittsfield. Many voters have heard pieces of my plan throughout the course of this campaign, but it has always been my goal to share the specific action items of this plan with the voters of Pittsfield," Bianchi said.
"Because of the enormous interest in the special election for state rep, municipal candidates have had limited public opportunity to debate the real issues facing Pittsfield. Over the next three weeks, I will share my 'Plan for Pittsfield' as I to continue knock on doors and generate public interest on the differences between myself and my opponent.
"As we celebrate our 250th anniversary of Pittsfield, it is a time to reflect and plan for the future. My plan addresses taxes, city services, education, economic development and job creation, expansion of open government, and public safety."
Bianchi said, "This meeting will give everyone an opportunity to learn about my specific action plan to move Pittsfield forward. And, there will be an opportunity for the public to ask me questions."
Following Wednesday's town hall meeting, Bianchi will put his "Plan for Pittsfield" on his website at votebianchi.com.
Beaver Mill Artists Talk Features Council CandidatesNORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Beaver Mill's First Thursdays Artist Discussion this month again features candidates for City Council.
Four candidates, Gail Sellers, Lisa Blackmer, Greg Roach and David Bond, have accepted an invitation to talk to artists and interested residents about how the council will work with the art community and now the city can capitalize on the arts.
The discussion will be held at Frog Lotus Yoga in the mill on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6:30 to 8. Use the front door entrance on the first floor; parking is available across the street. While established as a forum for the local artists community to discuss issues, the monthly talks are open to the public.
This is the second session in which candidates who have indicated a specific interest in exploring the best ways the city, via the council, can utilize the art community for mutual benefit, will discuss their ideas with artists and interested residents. The arts have been an important economic engine for the city; how to continue this relationship could determine how successful the city is in the future.
The previous First Thursday Discussion also had four candidates. Since this is not meant to be a full debate it has been limited to those who have indicated an interest in the arts, so that there will be time for a discussion with all participants. If there is a willingness to do more, an additional discussion on Nov. 3 (First Thursday) could be scheduled before the election.
Discussions about various topics of interest to artists are hosted by different studios within the Beaver Mill each month.
The mill is located next to Natural Bridge State Park, 189 Beaver St. Light refreshments will be served.
Green-Rainbow Candidates Chance to Shine
David Cachat of PCTV interviewed, rather than moderating.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The incumbents didn't show but their challengers were more than happy to take the spotlight on Monday night for the state representative debates on Pittsfield Community Television.
Rather than a back and forth between the Democrats and the Green-Rainbow Party nominees, David Cachat, coordinator for PCTV's Citylink, spent a half-hour each interviewing tbe Green-Rainbow candidates for the 3rd and 4th Berkshire districts.
It was a rare chance for a third party whose gubernatorial candidate, Jill Stein, has had to battle to be included in debates.
The debates were organized by PCTV and The Pittsfield Gazette in September. Fourth District incumbent William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox had begged off citing calendar confusion (another debate has been proposed for next Monday) but Christopher N. Speranzo of Pittsfield, running for a third full term in the 3rd District, bowed out on Friday.
"I'm running for representative for the 3rd Berkshire District because I want the job. I want it so much that I plan to serve the entire two-year term," said Mark C. Miller, taking a swipe at Speranzo in his opening statement of what would have been the 3rd Berkshire debate.
Speranzo's come in for criticism for reportedly going after the lifetime job of clerk-magistrate in the Central Berkshire District Court while also running for another term as representative. If he wins and then gets the court job, a special election will have to be held to fill his seat. More than one political pundit has pointed out that's exactly how Speranzo came to office after his predecessor Peter Larkin quit for the private sector only days after being sworn in.
"I don't know whether he's a victim of terrible timing or what, but he's got a decision to make," said Miller, who speculated Speranzo expected to be elected anyway just by running as a Democrat. "If I'm elected all that will be moot ... but I am disappointed we can't have a dialogue."
Miller's comments evoked applause from what audience showed up for the two debates. Both he and fellow Green-Rainbow Lee Scott Laugenour are running against the expectation that Democrats — or Republicans for that matter — are safe bets.
Miller, longtime journalist and former editor of The Berkshire Eagle, said it was time to change government. The Democratic-controlled Legislature "works in the shadows," he said, and needs legislators willing to buck the system. "They won't miss one Democrat from Pittsfield; what they might not miss is a challenge by an independent legislator."
Laugenour had raised the same theme in his earlier interview. A longtime executive with Marriott Hotels in the Northeast, he said his position had given him an inside look at the power and influence-peddling behind the scenes in both parties. "There was a lot of secrecy behind that thick curtain."
Both believe the electorate is ready for a change, noting that the majority of voters in Massachusetts aren't enrolled in either party. Where some are turning toward tea party conservatism, the Green-Rainbow Party is offering an option for progressives.
"People are ready for a new kind of government a new kind of Legislature," said Laugenour. "It's time for legislators to arrive on Beacon Hill whose only debts are [to] the people whose hand they've shaken in their district, not to the affiliations of power brokering that goes on right now.
"Once people have a taste for it, they're going to like it."
Lee Scott Laugenour, whose image refused to be captured.
The candidates were asked similar questions during their interviews. What follows is summing up of their stands on the issues.
Both candidates said the current system is regressive and hurting middle and lower-income citizens. Miller said he wouldn't have voted for last year's increase in sales tax but would not support the current effort to cut it in half: "That would be absolutely disastrous."
Miller said the state constitution prevents a progressive tax system; however, he suggests raising the income tax across the board while providing exemptions targeting middle and lower-income earners. "That would level the playing field a little and bring in a billion or a billion and half more in revenue."
Laugenour, who also would not have voted for the sales tax increase, said it was in the Legislature's power to change to a graduated tax. Its failure to act has put greater pressure on municipalities to use property taxes for services. "The overreliance on property tax revenue has been building for at least the last 10 years that the Legislature has reduced local aid."
The candidates had harsh words for the state and federal health insurance reform. "It's just unaffordable and it's second rate," said Miller. "These are boondoggles for the private insurance industry." Both advocated for a single-payer plan that Miller said was abandoned by the Democrats and the issue that led him to leave the party. Laugenour said health care should be considered as infrastructure.
"It's pretty well proven a publicly funded health insurance system costs less money than ours," said Laugenour, who added he'd experienced such plans while living overseas. "We don't have it right now because we have a lot of insurance industries that purchase influence from the leaders of both parties ... we need people in the Legislature who don't take this money."
"Casinos take more jobs and projects out of the community than they bring in," said Laugenour, who referred to a New Hampshire study that found for every job created by casinos, 1 1/2 jobs were lost.
"It preys on addiction so I tend to be against it for an economic development tool," said Miller. "If you're in an economic low like we are now, it's hard to be against something ... but lot of what they make goes right out of the state."
Both support funding for education at all levels but admitted the difficulty in how to do it. Miller said he was not in favor of charter schools because they tend to siphon not only funds but more motivated students from the public schools. Laugenour said it was important to find ways to provide an equal educational experience not reliant on where you lived. The state had been the first to introduce a public education, he said, and should be able to find a way to improve it.
Miller said he was in favor of alternative energy but didn't think the answer was only in megaprojects like Cape Wind that may well in increase the cost of electricity. Rather, he said, it would be more efficient and cost effective to encourage local activity, such as wind or solar panels on homes and businesses.
"This is decentralized and everyone could take part," he said. "Think of the green jobs that could be developed from this."
Laugenour, who sits on the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority board, is an outspoken advocate for public transportation as a key part of instrastructure. He's made biking around the 18 towns in the 4th District a centerpiece of his campaign (he said he'll take the bus to Boston). He doesn't support the Pittsfield Municipal Airport expansion on environmental and economic grounds, feeling the results won't be worth the cost. Putting the money into expanding bus transportation would have a higher pay off, he said.
"It's because the Legislature does not fund public transportation the way it should," he said. "I'll get a lot more business leaders around the issue of public transportation on evenings and weekends than I ever will to get them to support the airport expansion."
The interviews will be rebroadcast on PCTV and are available on the website (where I watched them.)
Sheriff, 1st District Candidates Seek Votes in Adams
Daniel E. Bosley addresses the Maple Grove Civic Club as three candidates hoping to replace him, David Bissaillon, left, Edward MacDonald and Gailanne Cardiid look on.
ADAMS, Mass. — The candidates for 1st District and the sheriff's office spent their last formal campaign gathering on Sunday afternoon chasing a few more voters.
Both sheriff's candidates, Thomas N. Bowler and Daniel E. Bosley, and all three representative candidates, Gailanne Cariddi, David Bissaillon and Edward MacDonald, spent just over an hour giving their stump speeches and answering a smattering of questions from the nearly 50 members of the Maple Grove Civic Club.
"For us the race is almost over ...," said Bosley, who spoke first. "This primary on Tuesday is the election. There is no Republican in either of these races, so whoever wins the primary becomes — barring a miracle on the Republican side — the sheriff or state representatives it's extremely important that you get out and make your vote."
Tom Bowler in a pensive pose, top, during the Maple Grove Civic Club candidates' forum. Bosley, left, chats up civic club members afterward.
Tuesday's election will fill two long-occupied and important political positions; Carmen Massimiano has been sheriff for 32 years, Bosley representative for 24. The forum, the last before the election, capped off a series of more formal encounters on local television and radio over the past months.
The candidates stuck to their stump speeches in the short time allowed.
"You know me. I've been your state representative for 24 years," said Bosley, whose district includes Adams. "I've brought more programs, more services, more money back to the 1st Berkshire District than anyone who's ever held this seat."
Bosley stressed his focus on security, rehabilitation and re-entry, saying he'd
laid out a plan to develop new programs, bring adult probation into the House of Correction and find cost savings measures, including solar energy and the possibility of a regional lockup.
Bowler, a 20-year Pittsfield Police detective, pointed to his longtime collaboration with various federal and local law enforcement agencies and said he would work on communication between agencies. He added, "you're not just dealing with the law enforcement aspect, you're dealing with the social service aspect as well with the victims and families."
The main difference between the sheriff candidates has been their philosophical take on the sheriff's office, with Bosley describing it as an administrator position and Bowler as a law enforcement issue. However, both answered similarly when asked about resources and if it was worthwhile to spend time and money on criminals.
"Our job is to rehabilitate those people - they're not all bad, but they've made bad choices," said Bowler. "We need to give these people the opportunity to become good people."
Bosley said it was cost-effective to provide services to help keep inmates from returning, noting it costs about $43,000 to keep someone in the House of Correction. "We need to give them services to keep them out; we can't keep them all out but it saves us money if we give them services ... We need them to take responsibility, to work a 40-hour work week."
Cariddi greets town meeting members Starr and Pat Baker.
MacDonald promised to 'bring home the bacon.'
Bissaillon had a contingent of supporters at the forum.
Budget cuts have made it difficult but Bosley said he would work to find funding. "I think I can squeeze some money out of the state ... but we need to find other sources to generate revenue ourselves."
"I do not have the legislative experience Dan Bosley has in Boston but I do know where Boston is and have a car and i know how to get there," responded Bowler, though he had previously said he wouldn't hang around at the State House. He pledged to "use every resource I can."
Both MacDonald and Bissaillon are from Adams and Cariddi highlighted her family business connections to the town through some of the former stores, such as Albert's Hardware.
Bissaillon said his experience as president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce has given invaluable regional leadership and good professional, working relationship with the area's many businesses, agencies and loal officials. The most important thing he's heard during his campaign, he said, was jobs.
"Berkshire County has an aging work force ... We need to work to make sure our young people stay here," he said, but added it wasn't easy to bring employers here. "We have to take advantage of our strengths. ... We have to make attractive for companies to come here."
MacDonald, a former selectman who is now town manager for Chester, said he has the educational and legislative experience to make a difference in the State House. He said the proof was his efforts in bringing in millions of dollars of grant money for the town both singly and in cooperation with nearby communities.
My town received the second-highest grant in the state," he said. "When I took the position in the town of Chester we were $380,000 in the red last year, we turned that town around and ended up with with $55,000 this year. ... when I go to Boston it'll be to get things done — I'm going to bring home the bacon."
Polls for the primary will be open from 7 to 8 on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Adams voters are reminded that voting will be at the Department of Public Works garage on North Summer Street.
Because this is a primary, those enrolled in parties must vote in their party's primary; those unenrolled may select which party's primary they wish to vote in.