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Ruberto Bows Out of Mayoral Run

Staff Reports

Mayor James Ruberto celebrating the Beacon Cinema's first birthday last fall.

The field is wide open in Pittsfield with Mayor James Ruberto's announcement this morning that he will not run for a fifth term.

Ruberto had said earlier that he'd make a decision this month. Oddly enough, we were able to pick up WBRK this morning out in North Adams' West End to hear host Bill Sturgeon predict that Ruberto would make his decision known through "his favorite mouthpiece" The Berkshire Eagle.

Sure enough, a couple hours later The Eagle posted the news that the mayor was retiring on his laurels after eight years in office. It doesn't match John Barrett III's 26 years, but eight is considered pretty good for Pittsfield.

Ruberto, first elected in 2003, told The Eagle that he wanted time "to heal" from the death of his wife, Ellen, and that he felt that citizens could see government working for them.

During his tenure, Ruberto has touted the revitalization of North Street and put his political wieght behind such controversial projects as the $23 million Beacon Cinema. He's strongly supported the city's creative economy, hoping to rejuvenate the former mill city into a destination.

He established an Office of Cultural Development and hired Megan Whilden to lead it. Since then, the city has spearheaded and coordinated music and street festivals, attracted the buzz-making Barrington Stage Company and, in 2009, won a Commonwealth Award as a Creative Community. It also straightened out the vexing North/South street intersection and streamlined permitting to encourage investment.

It hasn't been all hearts and roses: Pittsfield's been struggling with drug crimes, the landmark Colonial Theatre could be foundering and PEDA's main tenant is a solar array.

Two years ago, Ruberto announced his run for a fourth term on "Good Morning Pittsfield." Some thought he'd step aside then because of his wife's illness. But Ellen, who died on July 22, 2009, encouraged Ruberto to run.

It would be Ruberto's toughest race since his loss to Sara Hathaway in his first try for the office in 2001.

Ten candidates for the city's top spot were winnowed down to Ruberto and Daniel E. Bianchi after a preliminary election. The Ruberto-Bianchi duel would be bitter and heated and end in a recount, with Ruberto squeaking out a 207-vote victory.

Bianchi has indicated he might be interested in another try at mayor; Ward Councilor 7 Joseph Nichols has already announced he is running.

 

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