Cariddi Clear Winner in 1st District
Gailanne Cariddi is hugged by supporters at Petrino's Cafe after winning the 1st Berkshire District.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Gailanne Cariddi emerged as the winner in the 1st District, the first new state representative in 24 years and the first woman to occupy the seat. Although a primary election, there's no Republican running so the Democratic winner will coast to victory in November.
The longtime North Adams city councilor was surrounded by well-wishers at Petrino's Cafe on Main Street in North Adams as numbers continued to flow in from the district's hilltowns.
"I'm sure that it really hasn't hit me yet because it's so wonderful for so many voters to come out and support me," said Cariddi. "I really want to thank all the voters because without all of them, and the team we put together to run this election, we wouldn't be this happy right now."
The city native felt she was the leading candidate and her father was sure. He wasn't excited Tuesday, she said, "he said he knew I was going to win."
"Right along I felt I was the leading candidate but I told everyone I had two opponents from Adams nipping at my heels so I had to keep going," said Cariddi, referring to House hopefuls David Bisssaillon and Edward MacDonald.
Cariddi easily took North Adams, pulling 1,710 votes to Bissaillon's 575 and MacDonald's 379. She came in second in Adams, no surprise, with Bissaillon sweeping the town with 1,328 votes; Cariddi took 356 and MacDonald 261. It was in Williamstown, however, that Cariddi pulled far enough ahead that it would have been tough to catch her. She pulverized both men with 70 percent of the vote. Some 1,028 ballots were cast for Cariddi in the Purple Valley compared to 293 for Bissaillon and 164 for MacDonald.
She continued to roll up the smaller towns, gaining 221 votes in Clarksburg (Bissaillon, 120; MacDonald, 48) out of the 425 votes cast, and took Charlemont with 84 votes.
Cariddi believed her stances on the economy, jobs, community development, green initiatives, agriculture, small business, tourism and arts and culture put her over the top.
"They want somebody with a positive attitude who's going to keep moving our district forward," she said. "I think all of those things resonated with the voters. I talked about them time and time again. People wanted issues; I gave them issues."
The party was winding down at the Bounti-Fare in Adams for David Bissaillon. The former Berkshire Chamber president said he didn't want his supporters to leave sad.
"The people who worked for me, who supported me, they were my heroes. I'm grateful for what they've done," he said.
David Bissaillon talks with a supporter at the Bounti-Fare after losing his first run for office.
He wasn't ready to speculate on if he'd make another try at elected office — "not tonight" — and planned to take a breather and get back to work at Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency.
"Unfortunately, my message didn't resonate with the voters," Bissaillon said. "We ran a clean campaign and I learned a lot. .... I wish Gail all the best. It's a great victory for her."
Edward MacDonald, who had been confident of a surge on Sunday, had already closed up his gathering at the American Legion in North Adams before we got there. The Chester town administrator had worked hard but couldn't catch Cariddi nor capture his hometown of Adams.
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Letter: Bissaillon Is the Right Choice
To the Editor:
The race for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District is a critical one for the residents of this area. When it comes right down to it, who do you envision being the best candidate to stand up at the State House and do all they can for our district? There is no better choice than Dave Bissaillon. He has a passion for this area that is unparalleled. He is a community leader, a business leader, a strong supporter of many local causes and a volunteer of countless nonprofits. Because of these and many other reasons, I know he will succeed in Boston.
I have known Dave for a number of years including attending Bryant College together. He was extremely involved with the college, just as he is involved with this community. This position represents a perfect opportunity for him to apply all of the experiences, accomplishments and relationships he has towards the betterment of our area.
We live in challenging times locally, and at the state level. It is critical that we elect someone who understands this community and is best able to go to Boston on our behalf, and be effective. Dave spent five years as the president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, a position that demanded a regional perspective and the ability to work well with many different stakeholders to get things done. In that time, Dave was very effective in bringing various people together from all over Berkshire County to solve problems and increase collaborative efforts. He understands the importance of education, was involved with the creation of an online county wide building inventory and the advent of the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation among other specific efforts to help the county.
In the end, Dave has a clear track record of community involvement that should be considered strongly when we all vote on Sept. 14. Please join me in supporting Dave Bissaillon for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District on Sept. 14. You will be making the right choice.
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Bissaillon: Regionalization Deserves Close Look
ADAMS, Mass. — Dave Bissaillon, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, believes that regionalization can save money and improve the quality and effectiveness of services.
In a statement released Friday, the candidate said that if elected, he would advance any such efforts that district communities pursue.
"I experienced firsthand the benefits of combining efforts when I served as Berkshire Chamber of Commerce CEO," Bissaillon said. "I led the merger of
smaller chambers of commerce and launched the Berkshire Blueprint initiative to develop a strategic plan to advance the regional economy."
For municipalities, regionalization's benefits include cost savings, greater access to basic and specialty services, and helping cities and towns more easily meet mandated responsibilities, he said.
Bissaillon noted that 1st Berkshire District communities have a history of working together to both serve the public good and steward limited municipal dollars. For example, North Adams and Williamstown's Hoosac Water Quality District have processed both communities' wastewater since 1977. The Franklin Regional Council on Governments offer a variety of services, including a cooperative purchasing program that can save towns money by volume discount buying.
"Regionalization offers a strategy for municipalities trying to maintain public services in an era when local revenues are threatened if not reduced," Bissaillon said.
"We just witnessed a small, but important example of how regionalization can help. North Adams, Adams and Williamstown recently hired a single Veteran's Agent to assist residents of all three municipalities," Bissaillon said. "This joint effort will ensure consistency in the delivery of services and meet an important need they all share."
The candidate strongly recommends that municipal officials read the report produced by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray's Regional Advisory Commission (RAC). The report chronicles the history of regionalization in the state, cites the pros and cons of this type of collaboration, illustrates recent successful examples, and amasses a range of technical information on the subject. The report is available here.
"I encourage leaders in the 11 First Berkshire communities to investigate areas in which regionalization could work to their benefit," Bissaillon said. "I recognize there can be concerns about giving up some independence, especially when jobs and longstanding ways of doing things are on the table. But greater good can result."
Bissaillon said the data presented in the regionalization study prompts questions such as:
Does our school administration model best serve our children and our budgets?
Do we have in place the most efficient system for caring for and transporting the elderly in our communities?
Is municipal finance handled most adequately town by town?
Could we do a better job with regional energy and green strategy plans?
What might be the most efficient ways to handle housing authorities in a region?
Do our local libraries take advantage of regional opportunities?
Are public health issues better addressed in a regional manner?
Bissaillon said local leaders might also consider attending the second annual regionalization toolkit conference, "A Practical Guide to Sharing Municipal Services," on Thursday, Sept. 2. Information is at www.mapc.org
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1st District Candidates Discuss Jobs, Experience
Anne Skinner, left, moderated the League of Women Voters debate between the candidates for 1st Berkshire District.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The three candidates for the 1st Berkshire District fielded questions on jobs, school funding and environmental concerns for an hour on Tuesday night in the muggy confines of the Church Street Center.
David Bissaillon of Adams, Gailanne Cariddi of North Adams and Edward MacDonald of Adams, all Democrats, are seeking to replace outgoing Rep. Daniel E. Bosley in the State House. Each stressed his or her background in government and business and how that would translate into the best representative for the 12-town district in the far northwest corner of the state.
The forum was sponsored by the Williamstown League of Women Voters and moderated by league President Anne Skinner, who posed questions from the league. This was the second time the three candidates have met in a public forum and comes just a month before the Sept. 14 primary that will essentially determine the winner.
The main focus was on jobs, not surprising considering the current economy. Bissaillon, a former president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, said the main thing he'd been hearing over the months has been concerns about employment.
"Business owners want a state government that supports small business, both new and existing, and a government that allows all businesses an opportunity to provide jobs for others," he said, suggesting the Berkshires had to do it the "old-fashioned way" by helping many small businesses grow a little rather than expecting another GE or Sprague to boost the economy. "If we can help 25 companies grow two jobs, that's like creating a mid-sized company."
Bissaillon was president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Bissaillon said he would champion ways to increase energy efficiencies, develop green jobs and other new industries, and collaborations between Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to prepare a better-educated work force for the needs of the area's more technology-driven companies.
Cariddi, a North Adams city councilor who runs a family business, said she's already been working on such matchups between educational institutions and business as a member of the Berkshire Regional Employment Board. She would work on legislation to support innovation and entrepreneurs and would lobby for seats on committees important to the area.
"I've been saying for months that we need to need to have a seat on the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee," said Cariddi, so that the Berkshires will have a voice in one of its more important economic drivers. She would also try for the seat on the Natural Resources and Agricultural Committee currently held by outgoing Rep. Denis E. Guyer of Dalton, to ensure Berkshire farmers were represented. "We need to bring our collective wisdom back to Boston."
MacDonald, the town administrator for Chester and a former Adams selectman, said, "Our priorities right now is small industry, [small-business] jobs because that generates 40 percent of the gross revenue in Massachusetts."
Cariddi is a longtime city councilor recognized for her environmental advocacy.
He said he would support a state bank that would back higher-risk loans to help business move forward, incubator programs, and allow small business to spread their losses over three years according to the federal model. MacDonald said representatives have to be more aware of how legislation affects all sectors of the economy, for example the recently passed measure that allows small businesses to team up for better health insurance rates. While good for them, it's being paid for by mid-sized and larger companies.
He pointed to his experience working on legislative issues in both Boston and Albany, N.Y. "I know who's there; I know how to get things done."
In how the area's natural resources play into development, Cariddi, long a supporter of green and environmental initiatives, said "commonsense standards are needed."
MacDonald said town boards working together under the state's permitting laws can aid in development while protecting resources.
"I think there always remains a healthy tension between the economic concerns and development concerns," said Bissaillon. "It wouldn't be the Berkshires if we didn't have those ongoing discussions."
With gaming on the horizon, all three said they would fight for the interests of the county should a casino be built in Palmer. Cariddi said she would prefer it not be a self-contained facility such as in Connecticut but a gaming center that wouldn't compete with local venues.
"I don't think it will be a big moneymaker for the state but I think the community should be allowed to vote because it is going to tremendously impact them," she said, adding surrounding communities should also have a voice.
MacDonald said the expected $300 million to $400 million in revenue would help reduce next year's $1.2 billion deficit in the state budget. "It enhances the state to be competitive; what casino gambling does is give us money for education, to take care of seniors." A third of that money should go to back to the cities and towns, and another third to education, he said.
Bissaillon said he'd heard for years that $500 million to $1 billion in revenue was leaving the state for Connecticut casinos. "Casino gambling is coming to Massachusetts," he said. "What I will do is make sure we protect our interests as much as possible as it relates to the 1st District."
All three also agreed that the state needed to step up its commitment to regional school transportation and, in response to questions from Skinner, said they supported abortion rights and the Transgender Civil Rights bill in the Legislatures. Bissaillon and Cariddi said they were against the death penalty; MacDonald said that while he did not believe it prevented crime, he would support in cases of murder of a public servant or particularly heinous crime.
MacDonald has worked in state and local government.
The candidates expressed their hopes for votes on Sept. 14 and each stated their preparation for the job.
"They need to hear people with real-life experience because small business is the economic driver of our economy," said Cariddi. She noted her 20 years as councilor, and participation on numerous boards and commission. "I have been a responsible and trusted voice for over 20 years and I will be that voice in Boston."
"When necessary, I will get up my Irish dander, that I inherited from my mother and fight like hell for what we need. Fight to make sure those in Boston do not ignore us here in the 1st Berkshire District," said Bissaillon, a vice president of Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency with a long history of community volunteerism. "I am the right choice at the right time."
MacDonald, whose loss against Bosley in 1988 for the post spurred him on to college and graduate school, said he had the experience for the Legislature.
"I know how government works because I do it every day. I will be your voice," he said. "And I will work hard every day. No one will work harder than me."
The debate was shown on Northern Berkshire Community Television; it will be repeated later this week and on WilliNet. We'll update with times when we get them.
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Decreased School Aid Unacceptable to Bissaillon
ADAMS, Mass. — While recognizing the difficult financial times the state is working through, 1st Berkshire District state representative candidate Dave Bissaillon said it is not acceptable to him that cities and towns were forced to deal with a 4 percent decrease in Chapter 70 aid for district schools.
Bissaillon also said he would not support a budget that decreases aid to schools until the formula used to determine aid amounts is reevaluated.
"Ensuring that every child in Massachusetts is entitled to a challenging and invigorating public education should not have to be a rallying point for political action," Bissaillon said. "Through funding and various requirements it sets, the state has taken on a role in the education of our
children, and needs to live up to that responsibility."
Bissaillon pointed out that in the First Berkshire District, where employment opportunities are fewer, it is even more critical that all children obtain an education that fully prepares them for career options, today and for the future, in which change is constant.
"Shortchanging education, even in difficult times, cannot be an option in a state that has always prided itself on providing the best public education for its residents," he said. "I will not support a state budget that does not provide the necessary education dollars for our region."
Insufficient funding forces communities to lay off teachers and cut programs, or increase taxes and decrease municipal services. This should not be the choice that voters, school districts and municipalities face, Bissaillon said. The state has imposed a number of new requirements on schools in recent years and is obligated to provide schools the resources to meet and exceed those obligations.
Even without the 4 percent across-the-board cut, school funding is problematic. The formula used to calculate Chapter 70 aid from the state has not been adequately adjusted to reflect the actual costs of education today, Bissaillon said. Chapter 70 is the law intended to assure fair and adequate minimum per student funding for public schools. With the exception of inflation adjustments, the factors used to determine what the state calls the foundation budget have remained stagnant since 1993.
"As your state representative, I would support a formal re-evaluation of the foundation budget levels," Bissaillon pledged. "Until that review is completed, I will never support a budget that decreases aid to any of our public schools. It is time for elected officials to start making tough decisions so that our local communities don't have to. Our children deserve that, at the very least."
For more information about Bissaillon, visit www.bissaillon.com, call 413-672-2460 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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