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Laugenour Preparing For At Least Three Debates

Laugenour Campaign
LENOX, Mass. — Lee Scott Laugenour said he is preparing for at least three debates with his only opponent, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, prior to the Nov. 6 election for state representative in the 4th Berkshire District.

Larry Kratka, Donna Todd Rivers and Holly Troiano have each expressed a desire to host debate forums to help educate voters. Kratka is news director of Vox Communications, which broadcasts programming on WSBS in Great
Barrington. Rivers hosts "Berkshire Viewpoint" on WBRK in Pittsfield. Troiano is on the faculty of Berkshire Hills Regional School District as a teacher of politics who often invites public officials to speak before her classes.

The Laugenour campaign has not yet received formal invitations for 2012 debates.

Voters in the 4th Berkshire District are the only ones in Berkshire County with a choice this year for whom they elect to represent them on Beacon Hill. Incumbents in other districts have faced no party primary or general election competition.

"I applaud groups who take seriously the important task of voter education," said Laugenour, who is the Green-Rainbow Party candidate. "Even non-profit groups that cannot make actual endorsements can host candidate forums and circulate candidate questionnaires on issues of concern to them as long as all ballot-qualified candidates are offered the opportunity to participate."

Laugenour has made public the questions and answers to all candidate questionnaires that he has received.

"In preparing for these debates my opponent will know in advance all of my answers to questionnaires that were posed by advocacy groups representing a wide range of political ideologies. Neither I nor anyone else in the general public knows how my opponent answered these questions," Laugenour recently told Kratka while discussing the issue of transparency on the air.

"Transparency is good politics and so is setting the example of it to a higher bar."

Willingness to debate was the issue raised in question No. 4 of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance questionnaire, which read, "Some candidates run for public office, win, and refuse to debate their future opponents. If you are facing a challenger this election, will you publicly debate your opponent? If elected, will you pledge to publicly debate your future opponent(s) once elected?"

Answering these questions in the affirmative, Laugenour reiterated the pledge that he made in 2010, to accept all debate invitations made in good faith to all candidates appearing on the ballot.

The campaign looks forward to working with these and other sponsors who come forward. During the 2010 election, the Laugenour campaign received two debate invitations and accepted both. Rep. Pignatelli participated in only one debate with Laugenour in 2010, which was hosted by Larry Kratka and co-moderated by Clarence Fanto and Dan Valenti.
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Shein Accepts Invitations to Six Media-Sponsored Debates

Shein Campaign
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Democratic Congressional candidate Bill Shein confirmed on Friday that he has accepted invitations from six media outlets across the new 1st Congressional District to debate the other candidates in the race, longtime 2nd District incumbent Rep. Richard Neal and the Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.

Since March, he has agreed to the following events, all of which will take place during Congress' summer recess that begins on Saturday, Aug. 4:

1. New England Public Radio (NEPR): Live one-hour forum, week of Aug. 6

2. WGBY Public Television: Airing Monday, Aug. 20, 8 p.m.

3. Pittsfield Gazette (broadcast on local cable): Public forum at Berkshire Community College, Monday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m.

4. Westfield News: Public forum at Westfield State University, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m.

5. WWLP/NBC22 TV: Live 30-minute debate, week of Aug. 27

6. WBEC/WSBS/WNAW radio (covers all of Berkshire County): Live 60-minute debate in mid/late August TBD

Shein issued the following statement:

"Restoring a robust, healthy democracy that ensures the people's priorities set the agenda in Washington requires substantive, independent, in-depth press coverage. These media-sponsored debates and forums, some of which will include a live audience, will help provide that to voters across the new First District.

"I strongly believe that ideas, and candidates, should sink or swim on the merits, not on how much money is behind them. For decades, public policy in the United States has been undermined and distorted by billions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying by status-quo corporate and wealthy interests. Today, that money drowns out the voices and ideas we need more than ever, and puts an extra burden on the media to properly inform the public about candidates and issues.

"This is a fine example of local journalism playing its vital and necessary role in our democracy. I fully expect the other candidates to join me at all six of these media-sponsored events – conveniently scheduled during Congress' monthlong summer recess – for a discussion of the full range of domestic and foreign-policy issues."
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Adams Selectmen Forum 2012

Staff Reports
ADAMS, Mass. — The five candidates running for two three-year terms on the board of Selectmen debated the issues on Saturday afternoon at the Adams Free Library.  The election is Monday, May 7, at the town garage.

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iBerkshires Hosting Selectmen's Debate At Library

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires
ADAMS, Mass. — iBerkshires.com is hosting a candidate debate among the five candidates vying for the Board of Selectmen.

The debate will be held at the Adams Free Library's Miller Annex on Saturday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m. The debate is expected to last about an hour and a half and is open to the public.

Depending on how technology treats us, we are hoping to live stream the debate on the front page of our website. If we can't livestream it, we will at least have the video clips posted after the event. We'll keep you posted on that. It will also be recorded by Northern Berkshire Community Television for a future showing.

Running for two seats on the board are incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, former Selectman Edward Driscoll and newcomers Richard Blanchard, John Duval and Jeremy Halek. Current board member Jason Hnatonko is not running for re-election. The election is on Monday, May 7.

The candidates will give opening remarks before fielding an array of questions. The moderator will be Editor Tammy Daniels. At least one question will come from iBerkshires Senior Reporter Andy McKeever, another from North Adams Transcript Reporter Phil Demers and the rest generated from you — yes, you.

iBerkshires is seeking questions to ask your next selectmen. Email, tweet (@iBerkshires), Facebook, whichever works best for you. We suggest sending them in early but we also will be checking during the debate. We'll be asking as many of your questions as we can before the candidates give their closing statements.

We'll see you there!
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Adams Candidates Speak at Maple Grove Civic Club

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Edward Driscoll
John E. Duval
Richard Blanchard

Arthur 'Skip' Harrington
Jeremy Halek
The five Board of Selectmen candidates pitched their platforms on Sunday. The five candidates are running for two three-year seats.
ADAMS, Mass. — There was general agreement between candidates for the two selectmen offices that the town needs to more aggressively market itself as a recreational area and it was important the town move forward.

All five of those running appeared at the annual Maple Grove Civic Club candidates' forum on Sunday afternoon.

Appearing at the forum in the crowded PNA Hall were incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, Richard Blanchard, Edward Driscoll, John Duval and Jeremy Halek.

Anyone running for office in the May 7 election was invited to attend. They included candidates for Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee, Steven Vigna; Parks Commission, incumbent James Fassell; library director, Eugene Michalenko; town clerk, incumbent Haley Meczywor, and town moderator, incumbent Joseph R. Dean Jr. and Ryan Biros.

Harrington, the current chairman and who is running for a second three-year term on the Board of Selectmen, pointed to challenges and successes during his first term.

"I love this town, I've enjoyed my three years as selectmen," he said. "I think, and I hope, everyone can agree that during my term as selectman, a lot — a lot — has gone positive for this community."

Harrington spoke of the decisions coming about facilities, such as the middle school and visitors center; the Summer Street project and his involvement with coming Park Street Streetscape Project; work on the library and old Town Hall; the changes at the Council of Aging and its programming expansion; the extensions of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the repairs made after Hurrican Irene.

Regarding last year's controversial attempt to cut the dispatchers, Harrington said a committee with representation from all the emergency services are involved, and lauded the town's first responders for the work during the hurricane.

"I have respect for those who have an opinion about the town of Adams," he said. "I may not always agree with your opinion, and you can't alway agree because you can't please everybody ...  but I'll always listen."

Blanchard focused on the need to increase the tax base to offset the tax burden on residents.

"We've got to find a way to stop that," he said. I know it's easy to say; do I have a magic plan? No. But what I'd like to see is a little more marketing."

He said the town should do what it could to market the town as a recreational area and also attract outdoors retailer like Cabela's, adding that people drive for hours to shop at those venues.
Driscoll, who was on the board from 1995-2007, also thought the town should create a marketable identity along recreational uses. The Red Lion Inn might be the front porch, he said, "but maybe Adams is the back porch."

He took a shot at the current board with its handling of the dispatchers by telling how he'd been involved with the committee that worked to rebuild the waste-water treatment, saving the town millions. The research and collaboration had come first, not afterward, he said.

"I want to contrast the style of what we did at that time with what happened with the dispatchers," said Driscoll. "It's not the outcome but the style."

The Finance Committee vice chairman and member of the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District pledged to ask the tough questions about expenditures and taxes and move the town forward.

"I want to see things move forward," Driscoll said. "That's what I want to see that's what I want to bring to the Board of Selectmen."

Duval, 17-year member of the School Committee and football coach, said the town needs to have strong leadership that supports new ideas and forward thinking in a positive way.

"We've had a lot of people try to hold things back," he said. "We need people onboard to work together ... I'm going to tell you what I think."

The School Committee isn't on television every other week, and that means residents aren't seeing the tough decisions being made, he said. Duval found himself defending the need for the $41 million Hoosac Valley High School renovation, saying it would have cost taxpayers more to fix the deteriorating high school and middle school. "It's on budget and on time," he said, adding the new school would draw students - and money - to the school district. "We need to show we have a great school system."

He, too, thought Adams should take advantage of marketing its outdoors resources, pointing to Berkshire Outfitters as an example.

"This is a great community, we've got great people in this community," he said. "We've got to sell this community to everybody you talk to ... come to Adams."

Halek, a town meeting member, said he would be accessible to citizens. A graduate of Berkshire Community College and Westfield University, he currently works for the Brien Center.

"Since I took out papers to run for for selectman, I've been going door to door listening to concerns important to them and their families," he said. Many of have spoke of their concerns for getting more businesses downtown and the future of the middle school. "I want to be approachable and accessible by listening to all residents and bring your concerns and ideas with me to the board."

Joseph R. Dean Jr., left, is hoping to fend off challenger Ryan Biros in the first race for moderator in some time.
Dean and Biros are running in the first race for moderator in recent memory, and in the only other race on the ballot.

Dean, a 28-year selectman, was elected after longtime moderator Anthony McBride stepped down in 2010. He brought the town budget book to remind voters that the moderator is responsible for more than running the annual town meetings. After years as a selectman working on budgets, he said it was an easy decision to "work on it on the other side."

"I have to be neutral and I have to let both sides get their point across," he said, listing some of the civic activities he's been involved in. "I do have an interest in the town."

Biros, a town meeting member and member of the Redevelopment Authority, spoke of his work in developing the town's user-friendly website with the past town administrator.

"I feel that as a moderator we have a great process," he said, pledging he would appoint Finance Committee members "in an unbiased way" and that he would work to get wireless microphones for town meeting so it will be easier for town meeting members to speak.

The election is May 7. The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, April 17; the town clerk's office will be open until 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available until May 4.

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