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Tony Maffuccio is looking to return to the City Council because he feels there is a stalemate in moving the city forward.

Maffuccio Seeks Return to Pittsfield Council's Ward 7 Seat

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former Ward 7 City Councilor Anthony Maffuccio felt that when he left office, there was a lot of positive momentum in the city and things were trending well.
But, a decade later, he feels that momentum has come to a halt. He feels a lack of collaboration between the City Council and the mayor's office has led to a "stale government."
"A strong government is a successful government. A weak government is a stale government and collaboration is the key," Maffuccio said.
He is now looking to reclaim his seat on the dais after incumbent Anthony Simonelli has opted not to run for re-election. Maffuccio faces J. David Pope in the election for the Ward 7 seat on the City Council. 
"What I bring to the council is experience, knowledge, and knowing how city government works, how it operates, and how to collaborate with the mayor," Maffuccio said. "I know how to be a team player and I also know how to stand up for what is right for the people."
Maffuccio is a Pittsfield native. He grew up in Ward 7 and went to local schools — West Side Community School, which is now Conte, Crosby Junior High School, and Taconic High School. After graduation, he started working in managerial roles with Big Y.
"I worked for them for about 15 years in different management positions from night manager to deli manager to seafood manager, frozen food manager, dairy manager. I've got a lot of managerial experience," Maffuccio said.
He started with the company in 1984 as a bagger at a now-closed store in the Williams Street Plaza. He was transferred to the West Street store and had gotten an offer to become the frozen food manager in Great Barrington. In 1999, he got injured at work and was unable to return. He has been on disability since 2002.
Maffuccio was paying attention to local politics at the time and felt there was a stalemate among the elected officials and not much was getting done. He was not unable to work so felt he could make a difference. In 2004, he launched a campaign to unseat then-incumbent Joe Guzzo and won by just 35 votes. 
"At the time, Sara Hathaway was mayor and she had an uncooperative City Council. Without a good City Council and a good mayor and a collaboration between the two, there is going to be no progress," Maffuccio said. "At the time, Jimmy Ruberto was running for mayor. I was tired of seeing what the city looked like. I wanted something better for my child so that's why I jumped into the political ring."
During the next six years, he embraced the downtown revitalization and focus on arts and culture. He said he backed the city's support for the renovation of the Colonial Theatre, bringing Barrington Stage downtown, and the Beacon Theater.
"At the time we were all debating on whether or not we should invest in the Colonial Theatre. Jimmy brought forth a petition to take $1 million out of the PEDA fund and put that toward the renovation of the Colonial Theatre. Some people didn't like that idea, told me you have to vote against it, you have to vote against it," Maffuccio said. 
"You know what, Pittsfield is never going to be an industrial community again. Once GE left and left that void, we needed to think about marketing Pittsfield in a different way. At the time, the different way was to attract people here."
He said those decisions were not easy. Many in the public strongly opposed spending money from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund to back those renovations. But Maffuccio said he is proud to have backed what he feels was the right decision to move the city forward.
"The people are the main concern but sometimes people don't want you to vote in favor of spending money. But I think the money that was spent generated a lot of revenue for the city in the end and gave us a better attraction," Maffuccio said. "If it is a good idea and it is going to benefit the city of Pittsfield, it is going to move you in the right direction, that's where the tough decision comes."
During his time on the council, he chaired the Traffic Commission for six years, and sat on Ordinance and Rules, Public Works and Utilities,  Buildings and Maintenance and the Public Health subcommittees. 
By 2010, Mafffuccio had some personal issues that needed his attention and he opted not to seek re-election. He had a surgery that went wrong and for the next handful of years, he struggled with his health. 
"I am out of the woods, strong and ready to go," Maffuccio said. 
Again he's been paying attention to politics. His son is off to college so his "obligations as a dad have been met." He's seeing the same thing he saw in 2004 — stale government.
"We need to do something that continues our era, the Jimmy Ruberto era, in keeping this city attractive to tourists," Maffuccio said.
He said both the current mayor and her predecessor and the respective City Councils have seemingly been at odds with each other. He said the first thing he'd do is meet with whoever is mayor and try to find agreements as to what to do to move the city forward. 
"The council and her don't see eye to eye — stale government. Stale government leads Pittsfield nowhere," Maffuccio said.
He doesn't believe the city's infrastructure is being maintained on a regular basis enough. He said it seems like this year has had more infrastructure work and he believes it is because it is an election year. He said he was a supporter of the Berkshire Carousel that closed its doors more than a year ago. Now, the mayor has helped support a plan to reopen it — but he feels she should have been ahead of that.
"When the abruptly closed roughly a year, year and a half ago, that is when the mayor should have stepped up and found out what was wrong, what happened? What can we do better?" Maffuccio said.
He criticized the mayor for opting not to serve on the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority board. That has since been restructured with the hiring of a business development manager.
"We always heard about was going on at PEDA and we were always thinking of ways to attract people to PEDA. I haven't seen none of that, none of that," Maffuccio said. 
Wayfair is bringing some 300 jobs to the city. But Maffuccio said that could have been an opportunity to populate the William Stanley Business Park. He'd have liked to negotiate with the company to see if they'd build something new on the land to set the stage for future growth.
"Wouldn't it have been better to negotiate with Wayfair on trying to build something on the PEDA property?" he questioned.
He disagrees with the implementation of the parking meters, saying the small businesses in the downtown are struggling because of them. He doesn't feel those support the downtown revitalization efforts that had begun when he was on the council.
"There are so many open parking spots now because people aren't going to pay for parking. How much revenue is really generated there? Instead of investing in that, you should have put in a home-based ambulance service," Maffuccio said.
He'd like to see the Fire Department start an ambulance service to raise additional revenues for the city. He feels that is one way to help curb increasing taxes. He said he'd look at many ways to increase revenues outside of taxes.
"You can't always go to the people for things. It is a dry well if you keep doing that. We have a lot of people who are on fixed incomes, we have a lot of low-income families here. Those issues need to be addressed and looked at," Maffuccio said.
He believes one way to save money would be to consolidate to one high school. He'd then take City Hall, the Police Department, and the city offices that are elsewhere and put them all on the Pittsfield High School campus. Then, he'd look to sell City Hall and the Police Department to private entities.
"You place City Hall there, the Police Department there, and you place whatever departments that can't fit into City Hall, instead of renting office space from private people, they can house them all in one unit. You take the back field and making it a parking lot. You'll have plenty of parking and you have all of these city entities in one location," Maffucci said. "That generates extra revenue. You are not paying rent, the two buildings the city occupies now could be put on the tax roll and sold off."
He said he'd support giving the Police Department the revenues and support it needs to increase staffing. He'd advocate putting more money toward the roads and other infrastructure projects. And he doesn't support the proposed toter system for trash pick up.

Tags: city election,   election 2019,   Pittsfield city council ,   

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Tyer Cautions Public Health Data Will Inform Phase 2 Reopening

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In her weekly COVID-19 update on Friday, Mayor Linda Tyer asked residents to stay strong during the potential last week of Phase 1 of the reopening process.
She said as the state enters the third and potentially final week of Phase 1, residents need to continue to practice "safer at home" protocols.  
"I am confident that the city will do what needs to be done as we always do because even in the toughest times our community pride finds a way to shine bright," Tyer said. 
She reiterated that the beginning of the next phase will be guided by public health data and said the governor announced this week that the state was past the "surge."
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