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Shein Speaking to Williamstown Democrats

The Williamstown Democratic Town Committee is hosting congressional candidate Bill Shein on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from  7 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall.

The event is free and open to the public.

Shein is running for the Democratic nomination for representative to the 1st Massachusetts District.
More information about Shein's candidacy can be found at www.billshein.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BillShein.

Contact number on-site will be 413-717-2924
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Pittsfield Ward 4 Candidates Offer Experience, New Ideas

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Ward 4 race is a choice between experience or innovative thinking, say the candidates.

Ozias "Chuck" Vincelette and Christopher J. Connell faced off last Monday in one of a series of debates for candidates sponsored by The Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, and hosted at Berkshire Community College. The moderator was David Cachat of PCTV.

They are vying to replace outgoing Ward 4 Councilor Michael Ward. Connell lead Vincelette by less than 100 votes in September's preliminary, which left third-place candidate James Brosnan out of the running. Connell failed to best Ward two years ago; Vincelette is seeking a return to the council after being defeated by Ward in 2005.

Connell said he had learned a lot since his defeat in 2009 about safety, taxes and PCB issues, and touted his current involvement in the city. The property manager has served on the Traffic Commission and on local boards like the Pittsfield Family YMCA and participation in fundraisers for local organizations. He moved to the city nine years ago.

Vincelette touted his 40 years living in the ward and his prior service representing it, and pointed to his years as a math teacher at Pittsfield High and in local banking. He upbraided Connell for a candidate's statement on PCTV that claimed Vincelette had done nothing to contribute to the city in the past six years. "I take exception, strong exception" to that statement, he said. "Because it is simply not true."

Ozias 'Chuck' Vincelette is seeking to return to the council to represent Ward 4; Christopher J. Connell is mounting his second attempt for the seat. 
The candidates differed mostly by degree on the issues. Both men believed that better enforcement was necessary to slow down speeders on the newly paved — and faster — Holmes Road.

Vincelette said the problem goes back a decade and is further complicated by the several different speed limits along the road. "It all has to do with enforcement," he said, suggesting that "police officers on their time off come in and write citations ... They would get paid based on the number of citations they write."  

Connell claimed he'd mentioned hiring enforcement officers at a prior debate "to not only monitor Holmes Road and Ward 4 but the other hotspots in the city." Rather than overtime, he said the city should hire a traffic officer and that the revenue "for wirting tickets would more than pay for the salary, the vehicle, and whatnot for this type of officer." Using electronic enforcement might also work, Connell said.

Neither really supported the plan proffered by the state for remediating the polychlorinated biphenyls from the so-called "Rest of the River," which includes dredging Woods Pond.

"I would personally like to see all the PCBs taken out but there are things to consider, for example the ecosystem ... and the property values," said Connell. "If we go to bank-to-bank remediation, the property values for those homes on the river are going to go down dramatically and people are going to be trapped because they won't be able to sell their houses."

He held out hope that advances in technology would allow a less invasive cleanup.

Vincelette said the city hadn't actually seen the plan yet, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would decide the course in conjunction with the state. Of concern was the fact that city no longer had an official voice in the issue becuase of the consent agreement. 

"All we can do is accept the decision. There's only one dog in this fight and it's the EPA," he said. "We're all wiating to find out what is the final decision."

They both supported continued municipal trash pickup, with Vincelette saying its a service that works well for citizens and Connell advocating for more education to increase recycling and reduce costs.

Both believed the city needs to change its budget review process.

"The process we have now starts only a month before the budget has to be approved and certified," said Connell. "Starting earlier will give us more in-depth perception of what's actually in the line items. ... what areas we could tweak a little bit."

Vincelette thought the current processs "is an excerise in futility" that has failed to rein in spending. "We tried to cut the capital budget but we actually raised it by $450,000," he said, suggesting a "select subcommittee" do a separate review and report back to the entire council. "You'll never get six people to agree to a cut.

Both also came down against replacing the school bus fleet at this point. The buses were purchased five years ago with the pledge to set aside money for replacements.

Vincelette said the school system had promised to do that for years with no results. "It's never going to be set aside yet we still have the problem of bringing our kids to school," he said, adding the city needed to explore other options including reviewing routes that appeared to have to few children riding.

Connell said the city should to look into leasing. "The bottom line is, we bought a new fleet, the money was supposed to be put aside every year to purchase a new fleet and it wasn't now we have to deal with it," he said. "We have to weigh all the costs, all the options and pick the best one."

In closing, Vincelette said it was "time to talk turkey" and laid out his credentials and experience within the ward and community. "Living a life of honest work, civic engagement and straight talk; this is the experience and traits I want to bring to the council table."

Connell called for new ideas. "We need new and innovative ideas to press forward in this difficult times," he said, adding he'd have a website and other social media to keep in contact with constituents. "The ways of the past just don't work anymore ... we're in the 21st century."

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North Adams Mayoral Debate Video

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayoral candidates Richard Alcombright and Ronald Boucher met in a feisty forum about economic growth, school building options, transparency and whether visions trump plans and vice versa.

The hourlong debate was filmed at Northern Berkshire Community Television and can be seen at various times through Monday. The full debate is here, in four parts.

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North Adams Candidate Forums Scheduled

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There are three forums scheduled this week for candidates running for mayor, City Council and School Committee in the city. All the debates will be hosted by Northern Berkshire Community Television and broadcast on Channel 17.

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 info@iberkshires.com 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.
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Ward 5 Candidates Differ on Downtown, City Garage

By Joe DurwinSpecial to iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local business owner J. Joseph Breault and four-term incumbent Jonathan Lothrop voiced their differences on Ward 5 issues at the final night of election debates at Berkshire Community College this season.

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.

Jonathan Lothrop is running for a fifth term representing Ward 5; local businessman J. Joseph Breault said he's running to offer voters a chance for change.
The two expressed points of difference on several key issues. As to what should be done about the ailing Department of Public Works garage on West Housatonic, Breault believes "Renovation is not an option, it needs to be relocated or rebuilt."

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.
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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.

Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

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