Pittsfield City Council Hopefuls Outline Positions
Incumbents Melissa Mazzeo and Kevin Sherman, former councilors Anthony Maffucio and Richard Scapin, 2009 mayoral candidate Nicholas Caccamo and local accountant Barry J. Clairmont appeared out of the total eight candidates seeking election to the four at-large council seats voters will decide on Nov. 8.
Churchill Cotton, who is also on the ballot, was not able to be present at the debate for medical reasons. According to PCTV debate moderator Shawn Serre, Cotton was admitted to Berkshire Medical Center on Monday for "precautionary tests."
Ward 7 Councilor Joseph Nichols, who is mounting a write-in campaign for one of the at-large seats was not included in the debate because only candidates appearing on the ballot were invited.
Nichols, who placed third in the preliminary election for mayor on Sept. 27, is one of two councilors seeking to remain on the council through write-in campaigns. Peter White, who was edged out of the Democratic nomination for 3rd Berkshire District representative, is campaigning as a write-in candidate against Kevin Morandi for the Ward 2 seat.
Candidates also leaned in favor of advancing a review process to look at updating the city charter, an idea which has gained interest over the last year. Mazzeo said she believes a city charter commission should be comprised of volunteers who come forward from the community, not chosen by the mayor.
"I definitely think we need an overhaul," she said. "It's going to take a few years, we have plenty of other communities [going through charter reviews] to watch."
Sherman, who has advanced the petition to begin a charter review commission, envisioned something based on the model of Northampton, which has moved forward rapidly with the process. He described a scenario involve a drafting commission with one citizen from each of the city's seven wards appointed by the City Council, along with two mayoral appointees.
The six contenders differed on the question of whether there should be a shift in tax burden off the commercial tax base onto residents. Sherman, Clairmont and Caccamo said yes, that they supported at least some shift off local business. Maffucio and Scapin said no, and Mazzeo described herself as "in the middle," and that while she doesn't want to put more burden on residents, nonetheless echoed Scapin's contention that higher taxes on businesses cost residents anyway in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
Though unable to attend the debate for health reasons, Cotton spoke to iBerkshires last week, at which time he indicated that educational issues, such as the high school problem, were a major factor in his choice to run for council this term. The current School Committee member said he'd been pleased with Superintendent Jake Eberwein's presentation on the progress of the School Building Needs Commission.
"It's important for residents to understand that no decisions have made yet, they're not going to be made without them," Cotton told iBerkshires.
Voters may choose to cast a vote (or write-in) for up to four of the eight candidates at the general election on Nov. 8. The four top vote recipients will become the four at large city councilors for the upcoming term.
Council Veteran Marden Seeking 13th Term
To the Voters of North Adams:
I am pleased to announce my candidacy for another term of the North Adams City Council. It has been my privilege to have served you for the past 24 years and with the challenges, and opportunities, facing my beloved city I wish to continue to be involved in moving North Adams forward.
I do not like talking (in this case writing) about myself. The phrase "who you are speaks so loudly I can not hear what you say" says it all. But a candidate needs to list his/her qualifications for office.
I believe my campaign slogan "Common Sense — Uncommon Experience" is appropriate. As noted I have been a city councilor for 24 years, have served on all the major council committees, most as chairman, and have been the council president seven terms. I have been involved in community and economic development in North Adams and the Berkshires, both professionally and as a volunteer since I arrived here to run the Chamber of Commerce in 1967.
I owned a small business, employing some 25-30 persons, that produced corporate and special events around the country. I administered a U.S. Department of Labor grant for the Berkshire Regional Employment Board for two years and for the past nine years have worked at the Alton & Westall Agency in commercial and residential real estate sales.
One last point regard my qualifications … no one will out work me. I do my home work. I take my civic duty very seriously.
On Nov. 8, I hope you will "Give One Vote for Al."
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."
Council Candidate Bullett Sets Meet & Greet
Bullett, who is running for council for the first time, invites the public to come speak with her.
The afternoon will include hamburgers, hot dogs and chili, volleyball, horseshoes and dancing. Tickets are $10 or $8 for seniors and children.
Reserve tickets by calling 663-7862 or pay at the door.
Pittsfield Ward 5 Candidate Lothrop Sets Dinner Fundraiser
Lothrop is seeking a fifth term as the council representative of the southwest Pittsfield district.
The event will feature a pasta dinner with homemade desserts. A cash bar will be available. A contribution of $20 at the door is suggested; children 12 and younger are welcome for free. Checks may be made out to Citizens to Elect Jonathan Lothrop.
For more information, call 281-0994 or email jlothrop@Berkshire.rr.com.