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Olver Endorses Neal for 1st Mass Seat

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — U.S. Rep. John W. Olver officially endorsed his colleague, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, on Monday in the campaign for the 113th Congress for the new First Congressional District, as re-drawn by the state legislature during the redistricting process.
"Richard Neal is an outstanding fit for the new First District," the Amherst Democrat said. "He is a strong supporter of everything the district cares about, and he has been a great friend and partner in the House during my congressional service."

Neal has represented the 2nd Mass District along the southern border for 24 years. Beginning in 2013, his hometown of Springfield will be part of the 1st Mass.

Two Berkshire Democrats, Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein, have also announced for the nomination for the congressional seat. No Republican has entered the race yet.
Olver praised Neal's work as a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the tax code, trade law, Social Security and Medicare.
"Congressman Neal has worked tirelessly to exempt the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax, while at the same time fighting to end loopholes that allow profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes by re-locating offshore," said Olver. "It has also been his cause to make it easier for middle income workers to save for retirement, and Congressman Neal vigorously opposes Republican proposals to privatize Social Security, which would undermine the fiscal stability of the system."
Olver and Neal have served together during Olver's entire 21-year congressional career, with each representing parts of Hampden and Hampshire counties in the Pioneer Valley, and each representing different north-south ends of Worcester County.
"As a former mayor and city councilor, Richie knows about local economic development and how important federal investment and federal seed money is to local projects," added Olver. "And he is a real rising star within the Democratic Caucus. The residents of the new First District will be quite fortunate indeed to be represented by him."
Olver was first elected to Congress in the First District in 1991. He will retire at the end of 2012.
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Richmond Town Caucus Set March 26

RICHMOND, Mass. — The town caucus will be held on Monday, March 26.

Nomination papers for the May 26 town election are now available from the town clerk's office. The offices that will appear on the ballot are as follows:

One Member of the Board of Selectmen: 3-year term

One Member of the Board of Health: 3-year term

One Member of the Board of Health: 3-year term

One Member of the Finance Committee: 3-year term

One Member of the Finance Committee: 3-year term

One Member of the School Committee: 3-year term

One Member of the School Committee: 1-year term

One Member of the Board of Library Trustees: 3-year term

One Member of the Planning Board: 5-year term

One Member of the Planning Board: 1-year term

Town Moderator: 1-year term

To qualify for the ballot, candidates must obtain the signatures of at least 25 registered voters and file their nomination papers with the town clerk 10 days prior to the town caucus or be nominated and approved for the ballot by at least 25 voters at the caucus.

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Nuciforo Bus Tour Kicks Off Campaign

By Joe DurwinSpecial to iBerkshires

Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. formally kicked off his run for Congress on Wednesday with a bus tour through the 1st Mass district and a rally in Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former state senator and U.S. House hopeful Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. at long last "formally" declared his candidacy for the 1st Massachusetts District in a five-stop, nearly 12-hour tour that began in Holyoke on Wednesday morning.

The candidate's excursion ended in his hometown of Pittsfield with the bus rolling up to Mazzeo's North just before 6:30, where a crowd of about a 100 people gathered to hear what he had to say.

In his address there, Nuciforo appealled to supporters as the candidate of "middle and working class people," in a speech centered around popular national themes of economic strife and general disatisfactions with Congress.

"The economy has been rigged against ordinary people ... Washington politicians of both parties have allowed a few individuals and corporations to increase their wealth and political power at the expense of everyone else."

"We need a break from the past, and a new set of eyes to look at things differently."

Nuciforo, currently Middle Berkshire register of deeds, listed key elderly issues as one of his top priorities, and pledged support to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Veterans Administration.

"I will fight any effort to defund or privatize or blow up or compromise any of these important programs," said the aspiring congressman, who has drawn fire in the past for the level of funding received from insurance companies and a perceived pro-insurance stance in past legislative issues.

Secondly he called for a closer examination of the 2008 economic collapse. 

"We need accountability for those, both in Washington and on Wall Street, that drove this economy into a ditch in 2008. We need to understand what happened: the deregulation of the financial market, the big influence of big money on Washington. We need to understand precisely what happened and who made that happen."

Corporate money and anti-incumbent sentiments have been a major theme for both of the Berkshire-based Democratic contenders for the redrawn 1st Massachusetts District, in a race that will pit them against 10-term U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, whose popular base and funding currently far exceeds that of the other candidates.

Bill Shein, who announced in mid-January he will also seek the congressional seat, questioned the former state senator's credibility as the best voice for these issues.

"We're not going to make real progress on jobs, economic fairness, or any other pressing issue by replacing one typical politician with another typical politician,"  he said.

Shein said in a statement that he has been consistently advocating for years the kind of political change that Nuciforo has invoked in his opening campaign speeches. 

"As a candidate for Congress I continue to say precisely the same things and promote the same ideas I always have. I didn't craft a new message or political persona to fit the public mood. Because that’s old way of politics, and we need a new way."

Several proponents of Richard Neal in attendance at Wednesday's Nuciforo campaign rally expressed similar sentiments to iBerkshires, saying that while they thought that both of the Berkshire challengers have raised points they agree with, Neal offers the kind of experience in national and international matters and political ability that will be needed if real legislative change is to move forward.

Neal supporters pointed to various organizations' rating systems to suggest that Neal is among the more "progressive" of the current crop of incumbent legislators. Various groups and scaling systems have rated Neal as anywhere from 47 percent to 95 percent.

The Democratic nominee will be decided in a Sept. 6 party primary held on the unusual day of Thursday.

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Former City Clerk Trying for Register of Deeds

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former Pittsfield City Clerk Jody Phillips will to take out nomination papers on Wednesday, Feb. 8, for register of deeds for the Berkshire Middle District.

"With my background as the former city clerk and work in law firms, I understand the importance of the register's position and I believe I would bring a unique and valuable skill set to that office," said  Phillips in a statement announcing her run. "On a personal note, I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to public service, something which I truly enjoyed."

Current Register Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. is running for Congress this year.

Phillips left office in 2008 to join General Dynamics, where she has been employed since 2009. She flirted with the idea of challenging her replacement, Linda Tyer, in 2009 but backed out at the last minute. 

She said she is well suited for the post of register because of her municipal and business experience.

"I believe that I am a great fit for this job. Over the next months, I look forward to going door to door and doing the work necessary so that the voters believe that as well," said Phillips.

She expects to take out nomination papers from the Voters Office in City Hall at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Middle District encompasses Pittsfield, Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington, with its offices in Pittsfield.

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Berkshire Congressional Candidates On Campaign Trail

By Joe DurwinSpecial to iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire County's two Democratic challengers to Springfield incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal are diving actively into the 2012 contest for the newly redrawn 1st Massachusetts District.

Pittsfield's Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and Alford's Bill Shein have both been keeping busy as they launch efforts to raise their profile around Western Massachusett's newly redrawn district of 82 towns and cities.

Shein, a writer, humorist and seasoned campaign veteran, has made public and media appearances in North Adams, Westfield, Springfield, Pittsfield and Great Barrington in the past week.

Nuciforo, a former state senator, whose intent to run has been commonly known since 2009, will finally formally announce candidacy this week, according to his campaign. The current Central Berkshire register of deeds has invited supporters and press to a bus tour series of press conferences in Holyoke, Southbridge, Easthampton, Charlemont and Pittsfield this Wednesday.

Campaign Sites
Rep. Richard Neal   (Not updated)

Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.

Bill Shein
According to an email appeal from his campaign Friday, Nuciforo hoped to raise an additional $15,000 in small donations in advance of Wednesday's bus tour. The Pittsfield native had $155,256 in funds at the end of September, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Election Commission.

Neal, by contrast, entered 2012 with a war chest of some $2.45 million, according to a report in The Republican.

Campaign funding has been one of the dominant issues in the race thus far. At a rally in Pittsfield last month, Nuciforo decried "corporate domination" and the "Washington status quo," in comments indirectly aimed at the 12-term congressman from Springfield. In a Jan. 18 statement, the candidate called for an end to Super PACs and adoption of public election funding.

Shein, however, suggests that both of his opponents will have a hard time claiming independence from corporate influence in this year's race.

The political activist points out that while a state senator, Nuciforo voted to repeal the Massachusetts' Clean Elections law, and received significant funding from PACs and lobbyists

"I'm thrilled that he's finally getting on board with getting the corporate money out of our democracy," Shein told iBerkshires, then described Nuciforo's anti-PAC statement as an one "early victory" for his campaign, coming just the day following Shein announcing his run.

As part of his platform, Shein has said he will not accept campaign contributions greater than $99.

For his part, Neal keeps insisting he's not thinking about the politics of this year's election (he hasn't updated his campaign site), though he has been engaging in a whirlwind schedule of exploratory visits outside of his current 2nd Mass district to some of the Western Massachusetts towns with which his native Springfield will be joined in 2013. While reticent to talk campaigning issues, Neal has stated on several occasions that his financial contributions do not influence his vote on issues in the House.

The Democratic nominee will be decided in a Sept. 6 party primary held on the unusual day of Thursday.
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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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