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.
Bianchi Squeaks Out Victory in Pittsfield
Mayor-elect Daniel Bianchi in a swirl of supporters at Mazzeo's.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The cheers for were so loud in the banquet hall at the old Mazzeo's Ristorante that results were being drowned out as they were read off.
The lead see-sawed back and forth as the city's 14 precincts reported in but it wasn't until the very last that Daniel Bianchi was able to claim victory by a mere 106 votes.
The final official tally was Bianchi at 6,144 to Peter Marchetti at 6,038, revealing that the city continues to be evenly divided.
The victor arrived late to the growing crowd of supporters and city councilors, having stopped first to speak to Marchetti and Mayor James Ruberto.
Bianchi warmly thanked his family and supporters who made the win possible.
Bianchi pledged 'inclusive government' and a crackdown on crime. Right, the numbers show a city having trouble making up its mind. Bianchi won Wards 7 & 6; Marchetti Wards 4 & 3. The rest were split.
"Throughout this election, your voices and concerns have been heard, and they will continue to be heard. Because all along I've talked about having an inclusive government, where everybody's opinion matters, and no one will be marginalized for having an opinion different than mine."
See video of Bianchi's speech here.
The close vote recalled Ruberto's equally narrow win over Bianchi two years ago; the tone of the campaign was similar, too, as Bianchi and Marchetti, vice president of the council and perceived by many as Ruberto's heir, battled over the summer.
Bianchi had come out on top in the September preliminary, about 700 votes behind in second place.
"I thought it was either going to a big win for me or a big loss for me but I never expected it to be this close," said Marchetti at the Berkshire Hills Country Club, where his supporters had hoped to celebrate his victory. "I don't know what more I can say. The voters spoke and they chose Dan. I will do all I can to make sure Pittsfield moves in the direction that's best for Piittsfield."
The four-term councilor said he would decide in the morning whether to call for a recount. If he does, it will be second recount in the last two elections.
In any case, Marchetti said he would serve out his post and continue working with the community projects in which he's been involved. He also said he'd offered his help to his opponent.
Bianchi touched on several of the key campaign issues in his victory speech, particularly crime. "I'd like to put another 1,000 eyes on the streets through a neighborhood watch program.
Marchetti gets some hugs after coming up short in the voting. See Marchetti's speech here.
Also seated were incumbent at-large Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Kevin Sherman, and newcomers Barry Clairmont and Churchill Cotton, currently on the School Committee.
Many expressed that the at-large election was a difficult choice for them because of the number of capable candidates.
"I wish I could have voted for five. I really was stuck," said Donna Todd Rivers.
Nicholas Caccamo, who came in sixth out of eight, expressed gratitude and pride in his campaign supporters while at Mazzeo's to congratulate the new mayor-elect.
In Ward 2, Kevin Morandi won in his second try for the seat with incumbent Peter White losing by 300 votes in his write-in attempt. White had tried and lost for the state representative seat this summer.
In Ward 3, incumbent Paul Capitanio easily fended off a challenge by Jeffery Ferrin.
"I'm disappointed, obviously," said Ferrin. "But I'm glad we have a great new mayor and some good new counselors, and hopefully we'll see some positive changes."
In Ward 4, Christopher Connell won also on his second try, defeating Ozias Vincellette who had hoped to reacquire the seat. The seat was vacated by Michael Ward.
In Ward 5, incumbent Jonathan Lothrop was the winner by six votes over J. Joseph Breault. No word if Breault will request a recount.
On the School Committe, Kathleen Amuso, Alfred Barbalunga, Daniel Elias and Katherine Yon were all re-elected and James Conant and Terry M. Kinnas were elected.
All other candidates were running unopposed. Election results can be found here.
Editor Tammy Daniels and reporters Andy McKeever and Joe Durwin contributed to this article.
Pittsfield Election Results 2011
*Peter White ran a write-in campaign. The total of 339 is the total write-in votes.