Pittsfield Mayoral Candidates Talk Visions For Leadership

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Mayoral candidates John Krol, left, and Peter Marchetti debate at an NAACP sponsored forum on Monday night at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Voters got a look at mayoral candidates John Krol and Peter Marchetti's plans for the corner office during a forum hosted by the Berkshire NAACP on Monday.

Moderator Will Singleton delivered questions on finances, management, and business to a packed crowd at Conte Community School.

Krol, a former city councilor, feels that Pittsfield is in desperate need of change.

"I am committed to Pittsfield Massachusetts," he said. "What we've been hearing as we are knocking on doors for many, many months — thousands of doors — is that people feel underrepresented and overtaxed. We feel as though we're not getting the services that we deserve. We feel as though our schools need to do better. There is so much more we can do in the city. The potential is limitless."

Marchetti, the current City Council president, said he continues to hear about the past and present but this campaign has to be about the future.

"We have to look at the challenges that we're facing in this community and we need to find a way to turn those challenges into opportunities and I know that we can do that," he said.

"We've been out knocking on doors now for the best part of the summer. I think we just touched 7,000 doors. I'm hearing from the people I hear the good, the bad, and the ugly at each door but I'm excited about the fact that at each door and I'm afforded the opportunity to have a conversation about the Pittsfield that Pittsfielders want to have."

Both candidates promised to take a different approach to city budgeting.

Marchetti wants to take one that Pittsfield has not seen before, going back to ground zero and starting with a clean slate so that departments can be budgeted for what they need.

"We know by knocking on doors that this community has seen its fair share of taxes and fees and it's our job to eliminate as much of that burden as we can," he said. "We also have to open our eyes and look at all of the state and federal funding that is there."

Krol said the city has record amounts of federal funding, including free cash and cannabis tax dollars, and people are asking why their tax bills are increasing.

"That's why I'm going to dramatically shift the way we approach the budget," he said.

"We are going to bring in an independent auditor for the city of Pittsfield, we're going to have an external auditor who has never done work for the city in the past, and we're going to have a director of finance that is not from the Pittsfield political establishment so we are going to make dramatic changes in how we fund things. There's plenty of money out there. We have to be more efficient and we have to do better."

Krol was asked to address concerns about his integrity after being accused of using nearly $7,000 from a nonprofit cat rescue's bank account to pay off a credit card. He said it was "absolutely a mistake" and that he had cleared his name.

He argued that a government should not have oversight from just one person and pointed to his promises of an independent auditor to be responsible for finances.

"We hear a lot from my opponent that you should be trusting him with the finances. My suggestion is this: you shouldn't have to trust that. You should be able to trust a system that is going to benefit us no matter who the mayor is today, tomorrow, or into the future," Krol said.

"So having an internal auditor that is independent of the mayor having an external auditor that has never done work for the city of Pittsfield and having a director of finance that is not associated with the political establishment Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is the way forward in this city."



Marchetti clarified that he does not ask people to trust him with finances, he asks that people trust him to make sure that systems are being followed.

"In regards to the other part of trust, this campaign has been targeted a number of times that we are running a whisper campaign and that we helped create a political hit yet at one of our last debates at The Berkshire Eagle, you talked about these wonderful people here sitting in the front row, my core campaign people who have been with me forever, that if you had the opportunity you would want them to be on your campaign," he said, adding that his team had nothing to do with the situation and neither has he.

The two were also asked how they would handle disagreements with the City Council.

Marchetti said communication with departments needs to change.

"Nov. 8 we start calling councilors-elect and saying, 'Can we meet for a cup of coffee?'" he said. "One of the things that I have said during the campaign is the buzzword of accountability. The City Council will hold me accountable as mayor. You've held me accountable a number of times —right Councilor [Kenneth] Warren?— as council president. That's how it goes and that is part of the process."

He would have an open-door policy and encourage collaboration with his colleagues to ensure the best process.

Krol said temperament and emotional intelligence are very important.

"The mayor has to be able to work with councilors, especially those who are pushing against the mayor on certain issues," he said.

"I look at the mayor's office right now and I look at City Hall and we have four entrances and three of them are closed still. We have to have a more open environment. When I worked in the mayor's office, if a city councilor walked in, we made time for that city councilor and we made time for that conversation."

He said the mayor has to keep a sense of temperament and maintain that relationship because you never know when you're going to need a councilor's support on a vote.

The candidates had differing views on how to deal with department heads' performance.

Krol has been vocal about replacing the director of finance and said there is an expectation for a new mayor to create their own team.

"I think we really have to take a look at some departments really closely but that is going to be my perspective is looking at some departments very closely on the front end," he said.

Krol will be looking at the building department, claiming that the building inspection process is difficult for businesses, and public services. He cited former North Adams Mayor (now state Rep.) John Barrett III's overhaul of the Department of Public Services over 10 years ago and said he would bring in a consultant to look at it.

If Marchetti has a department head that is not being an effective manager, the first thing he will do is provide professional development training so that they have the tools to perform their job well.  

"The mayor needs to set goals and the mayor needs to set priorities," he said. "The mayor needs to evaluate this process as we go along and at the end of the day, the mayor needs to hold them accountable and I think there are many times where we haven't been held accountable and it shows when that happens."


Tags: debate,   election 2023,   

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Pittsfield Starbucks Closed Temporarily

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff

A sign outside the coffee shop assures customers the closure is only temporary. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Your alarm goes off, you get ready, and you leave for school, work, or whatever your appointment a little bit early to get a cup of coffee to start your day, only to find that the Pittsfield Starbucks, located at  555 Hubbard Ave., is closed. 
 
The sign has been removed, and the drive-through is blocked, but Starbucks coffee addicts need not worry — this closure is only temporary. 
 
The coffee shop closed its doors temporarily on July 7 to undergo a standard renovation with the chain's new Siren System, a Starbucks spokesperson said. 
 
According to the signage, the reopening date is projected to be Aug. 21. 
 
According to its website, the Siren System is part of the chain's Starbucks Reinvention plan, which aims to improve the experience for partners and staff by responding to changing needs and increasing demands. 
 
"As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate our store portfolio using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers," the spokesperson said. 
 
The chain's article on unveiling its innovations said, "Over the past few years, the number of cold beverages ordered has surpassed the number of hot drinks year-round. And, two in three drinks ordered have requested customizations such as extra espresso shots and flavorings."
 
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