Downing Endorses Roach for City Council
According to Downing:
"Greg is exactly the type of person we need in public service. He is engaged, committed, and cares deeply about North Adams and the Berkshires. I know, if given the opportunity, he will serve the citizens of North Adams with distinction and will be a great asset to the community, as we work to address our common challenges."
Roach's reaction to Downing's statement:
"I have had the pleasure of discussing many issues, both broad an narrow, with Ben over the last few years and I hold his opinions and devotion to public service in extremely high esteem. The fact that he is supporting my efforts is quite humbling."
Contact Roach at email@example.com.
North Adams Candidate Forums Scheduled
Mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright and Ronald Boucher will face off in their third and last debate aired live on Tuesday, Nov. 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by iBerkshires, the hourlong debate will take place at the studio without an audience. iBerkshires' Editor in Chief Tammy Daniels will be the moderator.
The focus of the debate will be economic growth, management and government/public services.
Voters are encouraged to email questions or issues they would like addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org with "election questions" in the subject line or tweet us @iberkshires during the debate using hashtag #election2011.
The debate will also air on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 3, at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The 16 City Council candidates will be taped in two 50-minute forums at the studio on Wednesday, Nov. 2, to be aired later. Sponsored by the North Adams Transcript, the candidates will be split into two groups of eight and asked the same three questions in alphabetical order, according to the newspaper.
The first group will be John Barrett III, Lisa Blackmer, Michael Bloom, Keith Bona, David Bond, Eric Buddington, Nancy Bullett and Robert Cardimino.
The second group will be Catherine Chaput, Diane Gallesse-Parsons, Marie Harpin, Michael Hernandez, Jennifer Breen Kirsch, Alan Marden, Greg Roach and Gail Sellers.
The forums will be shown back to back beginning on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 5, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Monday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
A School Committee debate to be taped on Thursday has been canceled because not enough candidates were able to attend. Invited to participate are Mary Lou Acetta, Lawrence K. Taft, Leonard Giroux Jr., Tara Jacobs and David Lamarre. The five are running for three seats. They have been invited to submit candidate statements to iBerkshires.
The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 9 to 7. The deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Nov. 7, at noon in the city clerk's office.
Ward 5 Candidates Differ on Downtown, City Garage
The debate was sponsored by the Berkshire Gazette and BCC and aired on Pittsfield Community Television. The moderator was Shawn Serre of PCTV.
Jonathan Lothrop pointed to what he said was clear improvement in Pittsfield, and throughout Ward 5, in the eight years since he had taken office. He contrasted his terms on the council to the dire economic situation of the city and perceived lack of progress on projects in Ward 5
As throughout the debate, Breault in his opening expressed no particular antipathy for the incumbent or his performance as Ward 5 councilor, but stressed that he felt that it was important to the democratic process that people have a choice, "and if they're looking for a change, that change can happen." He cited this belief in the importance of voters having a choice as his main reason for running for office.
Lothrop agreed that the building is a serious problem, but that no one had yet offered a viable solution. "We need to see some real data, not just 'here's an idea and let's see what you think about it."
As to whether Pittsfield should continue to have a line item on the budget for funding Downtown Inc., Lothrop was in favor, saying that having the nonprofit association, which operates similarly to a chamber of commerce for downtown, has been an important partner with the city in advancing projects such as the Beacon Cinema.
Breault said that although as a business owner he was a member of Dowtown Inc., he believes that the organization has "run it's course, I don't think it's necessary anymore to have that organization in the taxpayer's pockets." He views it as obsolete now that the city is involved in countywide promotional efforts with the formation of the 1Berkshire coalition.
Breault and Lothrop both said they supported the allocation for Ice River Springs to move its cooling tower and increase the number of empoyees. Lothrop said the city government had worked with the company on an ongoing basis to see that promised jobs would be created and noise issues arising from the facility were dealt with. Breault also expressed satisfaction with the way the issue has been handled, and expressed enthusiasm for doing even more to create new jobs in Pittsfield.
In closing, Breault reiterated that the primary reason for his candidacy was to offer residents a choice. He pointed to his experience as a longtime business owner of Jimmy's Restaurant in Ward 5, and his involvement in the community through being a supporter of Little League baseball in Pittsfield for 25 years.
"The choice is now clear for anybody in Ward 5," he said. "They can vote for a change, or if they're happy with what they have they can stay with the current councilor."
Lothrop pointed to what he saw as some of his accomplishments in Ward 5, such as a compromise on the airport, blocking a transfer station on South Street, and negotiations with Ice River Springs, pointing to a lack of involvement by Breault in those conversations.
"My biggest disappointment is that five years ago, Mr. Breault tried to propose a strip club in Ward 5," Lothrop said, referring to a 2005 application to open the controversial Munchies on West Housatonic Street, which Lothrop opposed.
Ward 3 Candidates Split on GE Fund, Grossman's Demo
The candidates took the stage in the first of four debates on Monday night sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Berkshire Community College, and aired on Pittsfield Community Television. The moderator was Shawn Serre of PCTV.
The two had little in common and split immediately on the thorny subject of taking down the 35,000-square-foot former Grossman's Outlet on East Street. Capitanio said it would cost $190,000; Ferrin, $2 million or more.
Capitanio said the vacant eyesore "should be demolished; it's blight ... it's certainly not an asset."
The current councilor has asked the city to foot some of the bill for tearing down the condemned structure. "If anybody else has a plan we'd certainly listen to it but they've been trying to sell it for five years."
"Councilor Capitanio voted against that, which concerned me because his question was where'd I get my information and how did we know it was true I spoke to them," said Ferrin. "That would have been the perfect opportunity to ask those very questions. ... I'm kind of concerned he wanted to approve the money to raze it but didn't want anybody to answer any questions."
They also disagreed on problems at Deming Park, with the Capitanio saying flooding had been an issue but he worked with Pittsfield Economic Development Authority to alleviate the problem. "We took care of the four or five properties that were affected," he said. "I don't know of any flooding issues."
Ferrin said the flooding hasn't been completely dealt with and may have been affected by unpermitted changes to the infield and other areas. He vowed if elected to ensure that any future work was properly permitted.
The two generally agreed on the continuance of curbside trash pickup, with Capitanio considering further exploration of using the toter system and Ferrin saying "education, education, education," was the key to increasing recycling.
Capitanio defended the use of up to $275,000 in GE Economic Development Funds to reimburse Ice River Springs for moving its cooling tower because of neighborhood noise complaints and tied in increments to adding jobs. "I'm absolutely for that," he responded to a question on personal standards for release of the funds.
"I'm unsure about the Shaker Village, I did vote for that," Capitanio continued, referring to funds to aid the living history museum in launching a historical architectural program with Amherst College. "I don't know if I regret that or not but, hopefully, it will work out."
Ferrin took a harsher view, saying he was "absolutely against Ice River Springs" getting fund money because the company "lied about their employment status — they employed part-time and temporary workers from agencies instead of full-time workers under their TIF agreement."
He said he was leery of giving economic development money to nonprofits such as Shaker Village, but thought he could have supported the Colonial Theatre, "but it still hasn't produced livable wage jobs for the community."
Both were against borrowing to replace the school bus fleet at this point, with Ferrin saying a comprehensive plan needs to be laid out first and Capitanio that other options should be considered, particularly privatization. Both also agreed the dissolution of the Parks Department had some benefits but has also affected the other departments' abilities to get the work done.
Ferrin stressed the research he does on issues and vowed to be the voice of the taxpayers. "I have no connection to the good old boy network."
Capitanio briefly chastised Ferrin for failing to pass on an email from a constituent, leading her to believe Ferrin was her councilor. He then talked of the projects in Ward 3 he helped bring to fruition, and said he would continue to work hard for his ward. "If we work together and help each other we can maintain the quality of life Ward 3 deserves."
Sellers Announces Candidacy for North Adams City Council
I am running for the North Adams City Council because our community has to work together for a better city. I was born and raised in Adams and went through the Adams public school system. As a teenager, I worked the cash register at the Adams Supermarket and framing at Gazzaniga's Wallpaper and Paint Store both in North Adams.
My family was not rich, I needed to work to help put myself through college. We made some hard choices together and in the end I learned the importance of hard work and compromise to get the results everybody wants. With the help of my family, I attained my goals. I have a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute and a masters in education from Cleveland State University.
After graduation, I married my college sweetheart and started my career. I worked for 30 years as a middle school art teacher, raised two children with my husband of 41 years, and now have five grandchildren. I have coached girls' high school soccer as well as middle school soccer and girls' basketball.
In 2003, while in North Adams on a family reunion, we saw the Eclipse Mill project and knew this was the place we wanted to be. Together with my husband, we made the decision to move our family and our 30-year-old business here to North Adams. River Hill Pottery has been operating successfully in the Eclipse Mill ever since. We've had some lean times but we've never regretted our choice.
The assets of this small city are immense. A major art museum, a wonderful college, beautiful natural resources, a newspaper, radio station and public access TV — we have a lot to offer. We have a lot of resources in each other, we have a lot of hidden strengths. People from all over the world come into this city, we have a lot of opportunities.
I have heard firsthand what wonderful things visitors say. And I can tell you, they're right. We have a beautiful city with a thriving population that only needs a little cooperation to make it great.
My experience in North Adams is that community is like family, and family supports each other and works together to be successful. I believe that my approach to government and life experience will bring energy to the council, and I am asking the voters for their support on Nov. 8. If anyone has questions or concerns, they may contact me at Gail.KolisSellers@gmail.com or stop by our pottery studio, I would love to talk with you.