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The debate was moderated by iBerkshires Editor Tammy Daniels and held at Berkshire Community College.

Pittsfield Mayoral Candidates Hone Visions for Corner Office

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayoral candidates Peter Marchetti and John Krol honed in on the visions for their prospective administration during the last debate of this election on Wednesday.
 
Hosted by Pittsfield Community Television and iBerkshires.com, topics ranged from public services and finances to leadership styles and inspiration.
 
Krol said his first priority in the first 100 days of office is to bring "fiscal transparency" to the city. He has promised to replace the Finance Director Matthew Kerwood and have an external audit of the city's finances and continued to hammer on these themes.
 
A special meeting of the City Council was called on Thursday to review the fiscal 2022 audits with Scanlon and Associates after a discrepancy in reporting was found and corrected.
 
"What we have seen is over the last several weeks that the city has not followed its own charter in regard to providing full transparency in regard to the city audits," Krol said.
 
"When it comes down to fiscal transparency, we're going to bring an internal auditor to the city that's much like Springfield, Massachusetts has done. We're going to have an external auditor that is different than the same one we've used for the last 20 years and we're going to have a new director of finance who's not from the Pittsfield political establishment from over the last several years."
 

John Krol
Marchetti said he will get to work in addressing the city's dire needs for mental health and substance use disorder resources, infrastructure needs, and the selection of a new police chief along with a new policing philosophy.
 
"Mental health and substance use disorder is a really big issue," he said.
 
"That's at the root cause of a lot of problems we have in this community and I'm going to hold true on the campaign promise to create a mental health and substance use disorder task force. I've had folks commenting and messaging me of the fact that they understand how serious this issue is and that we need to get to work."
 
As part of the budget process, he will do a "complete overhaul" of the city's buildings and "stop kicking the can down the road." A new police station is the candidate's first concern as far as city buildings.
 
"I think the other piece that we've talked about on the campaign trail is Hibbard (Alternative) School. Hibbard School is a very old building that needs work. Driving by there and that in the last couple of weeks, there are windows that are broken and there's deterioration happening," Marchetti said, adding that it needs to be in the hands of a developer who can put the building back on the tax roll.
 
"So it's the police station first, it's Hibbard School being turned into housing second, and then we'll find the resources to do Wahconah Park that is not full of taxpayer dollars," he explained.
 
Krol said the issue with the police station and Pittsfield High School is a lack of planning.
 
"It is very difficult to prioritize something that has not been planned out," he said. "Now Wahconah Park has a little bit more progress there so I looked at Wahconah Park and said it needs to be a public-private partnership. It's something like we did with the Colonial Theatre and there is a precedent for having private investment and other forms of financing coming into a public piece of property."
 
Both candidates see a need to reinvigorate the now vacant Berkshire Carousel, with Marchetti suggesting using the work of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program and Krol saying it needs to be supplemental to an event space that is likely private.
 
Krol is a former city councilor and Marchetti is the current council president.
 
Marchetti said that immediately after being voted into office, he would begin communicating with the councilors-elect.
 
"I want to state first and foremost that my style on the City Council has been a collaborative form of leadership and I will continue to take that with me to the corner office," he said.
 
"I expect the councilors to push back. I expect councilors to push back with ways to make my proposals and my ideas better so I'm not looking for the status quo or rubber stamp council, I'm actually looking for a City Council that will hold me accountable and push to make programs better and I think I've been able to prove through a number of different City Councils that I can work with each member of the council to come up with compromises and collaborate to get success."
 

Peter Marchetti
Krol pointed to his previous job for former Mayor James Ruberto's administration and said he has found consensus over time with many people.
 
"I think that's a critical thing because when you have important votes, you certainly need at least six votes for everything and for the really big ones, you need eight votes so having an open door policy and being able to have conversations all the time with councilors, and I tell you when I was working in the mayor's office if a councilor walked in, then you would make time for those individuals and that will be the case in my mayor's office and that will be the case for the next four years as the mayor," he said.
 
"It will be about always developing those relationships and also making your case because when you have strong initiatives like we're going to do, we're going to have to get people on board to things like the internal auditor which is going to bring the financial transparency to the city of Pittsfield."
 
Marchetti pointed out that if Krol wants to have an internal auditor he needs to read the city charter and make recommendations to the Charter Review Commission for that proposal and Krol agreed.
 
Krol said the city needs to change its approach to public services and may need a restructuring of the department.
 
"The Christmas ice storm was poorly managed by that department and it was a failure on many levels," he said.
"Every other community in Berkshire County was able to manage that ice storm, the city of Pittsfield was not able to manage that so that is not good. We are falling behind on a lot of infrastructure and I think we can do a lot better."
 
He would also target the building inspector's office for refinement, as he feels that Pittsfield is the "hardest place to get a permit."
 
"I don't care what kind of contractor you are, if you're a carpenter or a plumber, electrician, if you're an architectural engineer, the reputation of Pittsfield as being the most difficult place to do business in Berkshire County is real," Krol said. "So that means people are choosing not to do work in Pittsfield because of that department."
 
Marchetti will have a conversation with all departments to set a vision, goals, and an understanding that he will hold them accountable. If goals are not being achieved during the first 90 days, his administration will hold them accountable, and "what that means depends on where we are at that point in time."
 
He would also utilize efficiency reviews to evaluate the needs of each department. 
 
"There are a lot of departments that can do better but I question time and time again when we talk about public services and I hate to throw it up because it's an increase in the budget but we have never seen so many problems with public works and public services since we merged the two positions together as one," Marchetti added.
 
"For years, the city had a public works commissioner and a public service commissioner, both required two different sets of skills to be able to do the job and we've merged them together and every public service commissioner, public works commissioner we've had has struggled since we've done that. We need to go back and look at that process and determine whether that was the right move or not."
 
He credited his 35-year career with the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank for making him comfortable with budgets and is not so much concerned about the process.
 
"Although I believe that we should start with a zero-based accounting system for our budget and when we do our budget for the very first time so that we don't say, 'Well, this is what we always have. We need to add a certain percentage,'" he added. "I think we need to kind of take a step backward and there is where the efficiency reviews would come in."
 
Marchetti said he has supervised hundreds of people over the years without a problem and he will bring a collaborative work style to the corner office that is similar to what he has brought to the council.
 
Krol said his leadership style is one where he has a vision that the rest of the city staff will join to elevate Pittsfield. He circled back to his promises for an independent audit of the finances and operations and said Pittsfield needs to sell itself.
 
"We got to make people feel as though Pittsfield is truly the heart of the Berkshires," he said. "We're not there right now and a new mayor that provides that energy will elevate the city dramatically."
 
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tags: debate,   election 2023,   


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Classical Beat: Enjoy Great Music at Tanglewood, Sevenars Festivals

By Stephen DanknerSpecial to iBerkshires

As Tanglewood enters its fourth week, stellar performances will take center stage in Ozawa Hall and in the Koussevitsky Shed.

Why go? To experience world-class instrumental soloists, such as the stellar piano virtuoso Yuja Wang. Also not to be missed are the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, as well as visiting guest ensembles and BSO and TMC soloists as they perform chamber and orchestral masterworks by iconic composers Purcell, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams and Ives.

In addition to Tanglewood, there are also outstanding performances to be enjoyed at the Sevenars Music Festival in South Worthington. Both venues present great music performed in acoustically resonant venues by marvelous performers.

Read below for the details for concerts from Wednesday, July 17-Tuesday, July 22.

Tanglewood

• Wednesday, July 17, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall • Recital Series: The phenomenal world-class piano virtuoso Yuja Wang presents a piano recital in Ozawa Hall.

• Thursday July 18, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall • Recital SeriesLes Arts Florissants, William Christie, Director and Mourad Merzouki, Choreographer presents a performance of Henry Purcell's ‘semi-opera'/Restoration Drama "The Fairy Queen."

• Friday, July 19, 8 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro Dima Slobodeniouk leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program of Leonard Bernstein (the deeply moving, jazz-tinged Symphony No. 2 ("Age of Anxiety") and Brahms' glorious Symphony No. 3.

• Saturday, July 20, 8 p.m. in the Shed: BSO Maestro Andris Nelsons leads the Orchestra in a concert version of Richard Wagner's thrilling concluding music drama from his "Ring" cycle-tetralogy, "Götterdämmerung." The stellar vocal soloists include sopranos Christine Goerke and Amanda Majeske, tenor Michael Weinius, baritone James Rutherford, bass Morris Robinson and Rhine maidens Diana Newman, Renée Tatum and Annie Rosen.

• Sunday, July 21, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro Nelsons leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO) in a program of Ives (the amazingly evocative "Three Places in New England"), Beethoven (the powerful Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Emanuel Ax) and Richard Strauss ("Also sprach Zarathustra" — you'll recognize its iconic "sunrise" opening).

• Tuesday, July 22, 7:00 p.m. in the Shed • Popular Artist Series: Beck, with the Boston Pops, Edwin Outwater, conductor.

For tickets to all Tanglewood events, call 888-266-1200, or go to tanglewood.org.

Sevenars Music Festival

Founded in 1968, Sevenars Concerts, Inc., presents its 56th anniversary season of six summer concerts, held at the Academy in South Worthington, located at 15 Ireland St., just off Route 112.

• Sunday, July 21, at 4 p.m.: Sevenars is delighted to present violist Ron Gorevic, returning to Sevenars after his stunning Bach recital in 2023. This year, Gorevic will offer a groundbreaking program including music of Kenji Bunch, Sal Macchia, Larry Wallach, and Tasia Wu, the latter three composing especially for him. In addition, he'll offer Bach's magnificent Chaconne in D minor and Max Reger's 3rd Suite.

Hailed by The New York Times, Gorevic continues a long and distinguished career as a performer on both violin and viola. Along with solo recitals, he has toured the United States, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Australia, performing most of the quartet repertoire. In London, he gave the British premieres of pieces by Donald Erb and Ned Rorem. He has recorded for Centaur Records as soloist and member of the Prometheus Piano Quartet, and for Koch Records as a member of the Chester String Quartet.

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