North Adams Candidate Forums, Debates Scheduled
• Thursday, Oct 24, 8:30 a.m.: Blackmer and Bona
• Friday, Oct 25, 8 a.m.: Breen and Bullet
• Monday, Oct 28, 8:30 a.m.: Buddington and Cardimino
• Tuesday, Oct 29, 8:30 a.m.: Hernandez and Lamb
• Thursday, Oct 31, 8:30 a.m.: Merrigan and Moran
• Friday, Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m.: Wilkinson
Pittsfield Ward 3 Seekers Debate For Egremont Pupils
|The Ward 3 candidates fielded hardball questions from the group of 23 students who volunteered to help organize and put on the debate.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A candidate for public office faces tough questions during the election season.
On Tuesday, Ward 3 candidates were peppered with tough questions from those who could end up being the most affected by their election — the fifth grade students at Egremont Elementary.
|The debate took short breaks for students to present facts about Berkshire County they discovered during their civics research.|
Caccamo said he would be an advocate for additional speed bumps and signage that will slow traffic in troubled areas.
Meanwhile, Caccamo said the biggest issue facing the ward is vacant buildings and properties — particularly the former Hibbard School and the former Grossman's lot. He said he would push for reuse for those sites.
|Dennis Guyer served as moderator.|
Ward 3 Hopefuls Outline Platforms in Pittsfield Debate
|Nicholas Caccamo, left, Thomas Wells, Richard Latura and Jeffrey Germann express their ideas for Ward 3 at Berkshire Community College.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Four contenders for an open seat in Pittsfield's Ward 3 laid out their priorities and concerns in a debate held Monday, in advance of a preliminary election that will narrow the race next Tuesday.
Nicholas Caccamo, Jeffrey Germann, Richard Latura and Thomas Wells expressed their diverse opinions on issues ranging from traffic and commerce to more neighborhood concerns about the disposition of the Hibbard school and the conversion of a former church into a day care.
The debate sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television at Berkshire Community College was broadcast live. Moderator was Dan Dillon.
The four are vying for an open ward seat. Two will be chosen in the preliminary to proceed to the November election; the only other preliminary race is in Ward 1.
Perspectives among the candidates varied somewhat on the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and an emerging proposal for a big-box store at the William Stanley Business Park, which straddles the border of Wards 2 and 3.
Wells voiced the most enthusiasm for the proposal, expressing disappointment with the rate of progress of PEDA in attracting industrial or technology business to the former GE property. "I think we should explore other uses, whether it's retail or something to that effect," he said.
"I think PEDA is doing a good job," Germann espoused, suggesting Pittsfield "wait it out" for a better possibility. "I don't agree with another box store."
"I don't agree with putting retail into it," said Latura, "I do agree that [the process] has dragged, and dragged, and dragged."
Caccamo expressed some skepticism about the viability of developing the site for retail, but also emphasized that challenges to attracting major manufacturing operations may be even more daunting. "It may mean 50 or 60 jobs here and there," he said, "but I don't think it's going to be the manufacturing hub it once was."
The Ward 4 hopefuls also offered their ideas on the future possibilities for the former Hibbard Alternative High School building on Newell Street, which was closed in 2009 because of facility inadequacies and worsening building conditions.
Latura suggested that if financially feasible, the building could perhaps become a secondary fire station or house additional city offices, but voiced staunch opposition to it being sold for commercial purposes.
Caccamo questioned the educational impact of re-absorbing the program and students at Hibbard into its other high schools: "Maybe it should return to that use."
Germann agreed that this was a strong option that should be examined. Wells also believed the building still had potential for educational uses, potentially as a site for the Adult Learning Center, whose relocation to a rented North Street retail site last year proved controversial.
The candidates were evenly divided on a plan by the Building Blocks day-care center to reuse the former All Souls Mission on Pembroke Avenue.
Wells and Caccamo both thought the day-care operation (currently located on Dalton Avenue) would make an ideal use of the vacant property if concerns of abutting neighbors can be addressed; Latura and Germann staunchly opposed a change in use that they believe will create major traffic and parking issues at that location.
The four contenders outlined differing priorities and perspectives in what they hope to bring to the role of councilor for Ward 3, for which two candidates will emerge next Tuesday to run in the general election in November.
"I think we need to better monitor taking care of our properties," indicated Wells, calling for an improved building maintenance plan. Wells said he believed he could bring business experience and "new ideas" to representing Ward 3.
"Residents want to see projects that enhance the city, past Ward 3," said Caccamo, who pointed to his experience attending council meetings following unsuccessful runs for mayor and at-large councilor. "I think most importantly being accessible to constituents, returning phone calls and emails and getting the information back to them, that requires a good deal of organization and that's all going to be part of making sound votes and improving the infrastructure and well being citywide."
"We need to start making our neighborhoods safe," said Latura, who repeatedly emphasized public safety issues such as crime and traffic. "Then we can concentrate on the arts and entertainment, and we can get back to everything else. First we need to make our neighborhoods safe, and the rest of the city will follow."
Germann cited road repairs as one of his highest priority issues, and also urged for refurbishing of Goodrich Pond.
"We've got to fix the roads and sidewalks first. when I'm elected, I will work hard to make sure your issues are addressed in a timely manner," he said.
Crime, Politics at Issue in Pittsfield's Ward One Race
|Ward 1 candidates Lisa Tully, left, Tammy Ives and incumbent Christine Yon debated ward issues at Berkshire Community College on Monday night. Next week's preliminary election will determine which two will face off in November.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With eight days until a municipal preliminary election, three candidates made their cases on Monday for serving Ward 1 on the City Council next term.
The preliminary on Tuesday, Sept. 24, will narrow the field down to two; the only other preliminary that day will be in Ward 3.
Incumbent two-term Councilor Christine Yon, who ran unopposed in 2011, faced off with challengers Tammy Ives and Lisa Tully on issues such as crime, the city's high school building needs and recent methadone clinic controversy at Berkshire Community College in a live broadcast debate sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television. Moderator was PCTV's David Cachet.
Yon stressed recent actions and appropriations by the City Council as having accomplished much but having further to go, while Tully cited perceived frustrations in the ward with current city politics.
Ives, who said her desire to run emerged out of dissatisfaction with the incumbent councilor's handling of a parking issue on her street, frequently repeated a focus on improving communication with ward residents.
All three candidates agreed in opposition to a failed plan by Spectrum Health Systems to locate a methadone treatment clinic in a largely residential area of Ward 1, though Tully differed with Yon's handling of the issue.
"I did what I could do to represent my neighbors ... I took it on the chin, but I would do it again," said Yon, who publicly protested the site and later challenged the handling of the negotiations with Spectrum by Mayor Daniel Bianchi and City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan. "I was able to prevent that methadone clinic from going on that residential neighborhood on Stoddard Ave."
"I would have talked to the mayor to see what we could have done," said Tully. "My first response would have been to talk to Dr. Adamo who owned the house, to see if he could get the methadone clinic where it was originally supposed to be put, off North Street."
Tully called crime in their ward "a major issue," and called for increased city support of neighborhood watch programs.
Ives said many residents she's spoken to in the campaign were felt they were not receiving enough information from police, city councilors and the mayor's office.
"They have a lot of concerns about the break-ins and the lack of communication from the city," said Ives. "They just feel like they're not being heard."
Yon said crime is a citywide problem, but cited as recent progress the City Council's recent approval of a new crime analyst position in the Police Department, a concept first vetted in the Police Advisory Committee recently reactivated Bianchi last fall.
Yon said that through this analyst processing crime reports, the city "will be better able to utilize our resources exactly where they need to be."
With the city to decide whether to renovate or replace the existing Taconic High School while maintaining Pittsfield High School, Ives was firm that this decision should be solely up to the voters, while Yon and Tully agreed that this should be a cooperative effort between all parts of city government and the voters.
In regard to what city government could be doing better, Yon said the biggest improvement she'd like to see is more funding for maintenance of city buildings, such as the former fire station on Tyler Street and the McKay Street parking garage, which incurred large expenses last year because of years of deferred maintenance.
"You can be pennywise and pound foolish," said Yon. "We need to take better care of our buildings, they're our assets."
Ives suggested that police patrols of downtown currently done in the morning should be done toward evening, and also argued for increased police presence in city parks.
"The parks in Pittsfield definitely need some sort of patrolling," Ives stressed. "There's just not enough patrols at the parks."
Tully agreed that police increases were a priority, emphasizing traffic enforcement.
"If the police could be funded a little bit more, then maybe we could have more people out patrolling, and then all the problems with the speeders, the congestion, and the accidents on the road could stop before they happen."
"We might not always agree, but I think we need to work together to get things done," Tully added, in closing remarks that emphasized the polarization in city politics. "I know that I would work well with the current City Council and administration."
"I may not have all the answers right now, as far as exactly what's going on specifically," concluded Ives, who passed on several debate questions. "But I'm nore than willing to learn, and will do my best in order to serve everybody."
"My motto is 'How Can We?' " said Yon in summation of her service on the council. "I believe through teamwork with department heads, we can find solutions."
North Adams Sees Races for Mayor, Council
|City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau waits for any final candidates to return nomination papers on Tuesday.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. —
Nearly more than half the City Council will turn over in this year's municipal elections.
Among the names missing from the ballot will be Council President Michael Bloom, Alan Marden and Marie Harpin — all of whom have served for at least two decades. Also missing is another veteran of city politics, John Barrett III, who served only two years on the council but 26 as mayor.
Three potential candidates had taken out papers to challenge Mayor Richard Alcombright but only one had returned them by Tuesday: Robert R. Moulton Jr.
Not returning papers are Richard David Greene, who had been handing out his campaign stance while collecting signatures, and former mayoral candidate Ronald A. Boucher. Greene is reportedly running a write-in campaign.
"We've been friends for 50 years, I still consider him a friend and he comes from a great family," said Alcombright of his opponent. "Rob was right with me at my announcement four years ago but we've had our differences."
Alcombright said Moulton had described their positions as "far apart," how far apart to be debated this campaign season. "I'm looking forward to raising these issues with him," he said. "It should be a good and friendly campaign."
Moulton agreed, saying "we're friends with different points of view ... We'll let the people decide."
"I'm looking forward to the campaign, I'm sure there are a lot of good issues we'll be debating, some different views on the way the city should be run," he said. "It should be very entertaining and I think it will be good for the city."
15 14 13 12 candidates for the nine at-large City Council seats, although three still need signatures to be certified: incumbents Lisa Blackmer and David A. Bond, and newcomer Kate Hanley Merrigan. (David Bond did not have enough certified signatures.)
"There are a lot of new people," said City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau, as the seconds counted down to the 5 p.m. deadline. "But we always have a big amount of people [for council]."
Newcomers on the ballot this year are Merrigan, David R. Robbins, Benjamin J. Lamb, Joshua J. Moran,
*Anthony M. Sarkis Jr. and Michael Denault, as well as Planning Board member Wayne J. Wilkinson and previous council candidates Eric Buddington, Robert F. Cardimino and Michael J. Hernandez. (Michael Denault withdrew his candidacy on Aug. 19 because he is moving to Vermont.)
Incumbents returning papers were Blackmer, Bond, Keith Bona, Jennifer M. Breen and Nancy P. Bullett.
Edward Lacosse, Richard Lacosse Jr. and MaryAnn Benoit-Albee had informed Gomeau they would not be returning papers for council.
"I'm just really pleased to so many candidates, and a new younger field taking an interest in the city, and to see so many incumbents staying in," said the mayor. "It's sad to see Mike Bloom and Al Marden off the council because of the historical reference that they bring and their service to the city. They should be commended.
"Marie, her years of service not only on the council but through the BCAC and beyond, that just speaks volumes of her as a community leader. I wish them all well."
Alcombright said he commended "anybody for coming out now and being in public service ... it's not an easy thing to do."
Running for three seats on the School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton and newcomer Michele L. Vareschi. Stewart Burns did not return papers.
There is no race for McCann School Committee, with incumbents Paul A. Gigliotti and Gary F. Rivers running unopposed.
*Sarkis submitted a letter to the city clerk on Aug. 8 stating he was withdrawing because his professional business had to be a priority.