image description
Pignatelli's daughter, Anah, surprised him by showing up at the annual event unexpectedly.
image description
Benjamin Downing
image description
Anah Pignatelli tells the audience that she and her brother secretly planned the surprise.
image description
Scott Pignatelli serves as the master of ceremonies.

Pignatelli Reconnects With 'Family' Before Entering 9th Term

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

The 4th Berkshire District State Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli hosts an annual get-together at the Country Club of Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — William "Smitty" Pignatelli's daughter Anah may have omitted something from their conversation Wednesday night.
 
She lives in Los Angeles so getting home often is a challenge. He Facetimed her Wednesday night, as she was relaxing at her California home.
 
Thursday night at Pignatelli's traditional late-summer campaign fundraiser, though, Anah walked through the crowd, completely unexpected and surprising him for his birthday. 
 
"We were so down to the nitty-gritty where I made sure I sent my Dad a picture of myself showing that I was in LA last night in case he had any suspicions," Anah Pignatelli, who plotted the surprise with her brother, Travis, said. 
 
The 4th Berkshire District representative was beaming as he leaned in for a hug. It was a nice touch to a political event filled with movers and shakers from throughout the county, political candidates, family, and friends.
 
Pignatelli will say the one thing he hates about politics is fundraising but it is a necessary evil. So he doesn't call the annual get-together a campaign fundraiser, he calls it a "friendraiser."
 
Former state Sen. Benjamin Downing calls it more of a family event than a political one.
 
"This is a political event because Smitty is an elected official. But more accurately, this is an event about family and friends," Downing said, and received a chuckle from the audience when he continued to say, "the Downings and Pignatellis have been friends since Scotty [Pignatelli] was coming to do work at our house and Smitty was coming to goof off while Scotty did work."
 
The annual event always features a bit of teasing of Pignatelli and his brother Scott typically has an amusing story or two to share. The Lenox Democrat uses it as a way to reconnect with his supporters, celebrate his own birthday, and prepare for an election. Pignatelli is running unopposed this year and will start his ninth term in office in January.
 
"We're doing good work. I was responsible for a $2.5 billion environmental bond bill this year," Pignatelli said. 
 
Pignatelli told a story of when he was first elected as a member of the Board of Selectmen in Lenox. He was serving with his father and he was pushing hard to build a new school. His father pulled him aside one day and told him to calm down and outlined how things would happen regarding the school over the next two years. 
 
And it happened exactly as his father said because his father had gone through a school project years earlier.
 
"The issues never change, only the faces. That was a great lesson for me," Pignatelli said.
 
And then when he was elected as a state representative, his sister told him to remember that "it is a marathon and not a sprint." That is another lesson he took with him.
 
"I've had an amazing legislative session this year thanks to current colleagues and past. We have to be built for the long run. I've seen a lot of colleagues in the Legislature who come energetic like I did as a selectman, and they burn out very quickly because they get frustrated with the process," the dean of the Berkshire delegation said. 
 
"Things move very slowly but they are intentional in their movement. It is a marathon and not a sprint."
 
It is that slow and methodical process that Pignatelli has gotten used to. His measurement of a good day resides in simply whether or not he helped one person and if he kept his mind on the future. 
 
"Let's not get bogged down with the baloney and the rhetoric. Let's just got out there and try to do what's right. If politicians spend more time thinking about the next generation and not the next election, imagine what we'd be today," Pignatelli said.
 

The annual event typically draws around 300 supporters.
He recognizes the Berkshires have some challenges. But he hopes to create that more family-oriented community and put the emphasis on the things the Berkshires does well.
 
"We've got to stop talking about the population declining even though it is. We have to stop talking about the school population declining even though it is. And we have to find the positive in everything that we are doing. If we do that together, the Berkshires are going to be a shining example of what good can happen through collaborations and friendships," Pignatelli said.
 
That's exactly how Downing described Pignatelli's time in the legislature — one that is based on bringing the Berkshires together.
 
Pignatelli is a person who knows everybody working on an issue locally and those who can help on the state level and connects them, Downing said. Pignatelli is passionate and relentless, Downing said. But overall, he is caring about every person in his district.
 
"We all care about him not because of any bill he passed or any phone calls he made, we care about him because he cares about everybody in this room and he cares about everybody who is out there working a job right  now, working second shift, third shift, and can't be in this room," Downing said.
 
And Downing believes that is what makes an effective leader — someone who cares about every person they see on the street as if they were family.

Tags: election 2018,   fundraiser,   Pignatelli,   


0 Comments
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com

BCC's Nursing Program Restored to Full Approval

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College's Associate Degree in Nursing program is once again in full compliance with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing requirements and will start accepting students again in the fall of 2020.

This news was announced at the Board of Registration in Nursing's Dec. 11 board meeting. A site survey was completed by board designees in October 2019 and the positive results of that visit were shared this week. In that site survey, board personnel reviewed documentation, met with students, faculty and staff, toured the facilities, and carefully examined both current data and plans for future data collection.

The college's Practical Nursing program (PN) also underwent a scheduled 10-year site visit this fall, which reviewed the certificate program. This program continues to be fully compliant with MABORN requirements.

"This was a campus-wide effort to meet the needs of our community. We are very proud that our collective efforts and focus resulted in the full reinstatement of the ADN program," BCC President Ellen Kennedy said in a statement. "Berkshire Community College has been offering nursing education for over 50 years and we will continue to provide high quality nursing education that leads to employment and meets the needs of health care providers."

View Full Story

More South County Stories