Coakley Makes Quick Swing Through Western Mass.

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Senate candidate and Berkshire County native Martha Coakley was greeted by throngs of well-wishers on Monday morning at the Cup & Saucer in North Adams.
Coakley Makes Stop in North Adams


Coakley gives thumbs up to North Adams.
By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Richard Alcombright returned a favor from an old classmate this morning by endorsing Martha Coakley for U.S. Senate.

"This is the first candidate that I've ever publicly endorsed," said the mayor-elect. "We're going to see how that goes, I guess."

The attorney general and Berkshire native was taking a swing through Western Massachusetts, stopping in Greenfield on Sunday and spending Monday night at the Holiday Inn in North Adams. Coakley fans were at the Cup & Saucer before 7:30 on Monday morning bearing signs and waiting for her to arrive.

She was greeted by the Caproni sisters Ella, 4, and Abby, 7, who each presented her with roses. The Democratic candidate was mobbed as she made her way through the packed coffeehouse as supporters, schoolmates and local officials stopped her to say a word or get their photo taken with her.

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Among those were state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who spoke first and later introduced Coakley at a rally held in Pittsfield; City Councilors Alan Marden, Lisa Blackmer and David Bond, councilor-elect Michael Boland, former Mayor Richard Lamb and McCann School Committee members Michael Hernandez and James Gazziniga.

Coakley has deep roots in the community — she spent most of her childhood in North Adams and graduated from Williams College — and those connections are what she stressed during the 20-minute stop.

"I was lucky enough to grow up here and I've never forgotten it," she told the crowd, adding the values she learned her had stayed with her through the years. "I'm proud to say I believe I will be a good U.S. senator because I grew up in North Adams."


Abby and Ella Caproni give the attorney general roses.
Coakley spoke of how she'd debated state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing's father, the late District Attorney Gerard D. Downing, in high school — he from St. Joseph's Central School in Pittsfield and she from the former St. Joseph High School here. Her father, Edward Coakley, a local businessman and community supporter, had dressed as Smokey Bear for the Fall Foliage Parade.

Her favorite campaign ad, she said, is the one that talks about North Adams and the values she grew up with.

Coakley stuck to her stump speech, pledging to fight for a strong public option in health-care reform, for environmental issues, for the elderly, for education and for veterans. She also said she would continue to fight for civil rights, including gay marriage, adding that the federal government "shouldn't be telling Massachusetts how to run our families."

"Senator Kennedy made sure Massachusetts was well taken care of and I'll do that, too," she said.

Alcombright and Coakley attended St. Joe's together, only a few desks apart. "We knew at a young age that Martha was destined for greatness," he said, joking, "I told here it didn't hurt that she sat next to me in fifth grade."

Coakley publicly supported Alcombright's run against longtime Mayor John Barrett III just days before the election. Barrett appeared with U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano of Somerville, Coakley's closest rival in the race to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, two days later.

(The rivalry continues: Barrett's campaign headquarters on Ashland Street now sports a giant Capuano sign and Alcombright's Eagle Street digs are covered with Coakley signs.)

Coakley, Capuano, City Year founder Alan Khazei and Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca face off on Dec. 8 in the Democratic primary. Attempts by Sherman Baldwin of WBRK's "Talk Berkshires" to bring all four to the Berkshires to debate has run aground, with only Khazei and Pagliuca reportedly consenting.

State Sen. Scott Brown of Wrentham and perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson will meet in the Republican primary the same day, Dec. 8. The primary winners will vie in the special election on Jan. 19, although the winner of the Democratic primary is likely the next senator.

Polls indicate that Coakley has a firm lead over her opponents, but also that nearly 75 percent of voters still haven't decided on a candidate.

"If you have no other reason to vote for Martha Coakley ... Mike Catrambone said, 'we have to vote for somebody who skied at Dutch Hill,'" said Alcombright.

Then Coakley was out the door and posing for a few more photos before heading to Pittsfield.
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Veterans Day Observed in Berkshire County

Staff ReportsiBerkshires Staff

James Brehio in North Adams recites the oath he took when joining the Air Force as a young man. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — On the 100th anniversary of the first Veterans Day, Air Force veteran James Brehio ordered the veterans in attendance at North Adams' observances to stand front and center. 
 
"Turn around and face the audience and let them see you," said the National Executive Committeeman for the Massachusetts American Legion and keynote speaker at the city's annual ceremony. 
 
Brehio said it takes a special kind of person to enter the service and to recite the 72 words of the oath pledging their commitment to defend the nation against enemies domestic and foreign. 
 
"That they will obey or as well question they will fight the enemy in foreign countries. Countries a man may never have heard of, to defend the people they may never meet," he said. 
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