Pittsfield, North Adams City Councils Welcome New Faces

Jan 3, 2018

New members of the Pittsfield and North Adams City Councils were sworn-in this week.

Nine-term veteran Keith Bona was voted North Adams City Council President by his peers Monday.

“The timing, I think, was right this time,” Bona says. “We have a really sort-of young council.”

Newcomers Rebecca Cohen, Marie Harpin, Paul Hopkins and Jason LaForest will join Bona, Eric Buddington, Ben Lamb, Joshua Moran and Wayne Wilkinson for two-year terms on the city council. Lamb, who served the previous two years as council president, was elected vice president. Again, Bona:

“When I say young, it’s not always just age,” Bona says. “I mean young as in terms served. When I first came on I think there was many city councilors that were on there 15-20 plus years, so you know, I was the young guy when I came on by far. But now it’s a young council as in I am the only one that has more than four years served.”  

Bona says his goals are similar to those of new Mayor Tom Bernard: an estimated $30 million water and sewer upgrade, a $20 million renovation of the public safety building, zoning for recreational marijuana in the city, and increasing the city’s reserves.

“So it’s coming up with ways to get those, and we may not get it in this next term but we are going to try,” Bona says.

Bernard, just the third North Adams mayor in 34 years, says he wants to attract families and businesses to the city. He’s looking to hire an economic development chief.

“That’s where we are really going to see growth is going out supporting entrepreneurial efforts in the community and then looking beyond the [Pioneer] Valley to people who might be interested in relocating to a community that has what North Adams has to offer,” Bernard says. “Unparalleled natural beauty and outdoor recreation, world-class art and culture, affordable real estate, buildable space, and good schools that will continue to get better.”

Meanwhile, the 11-member Pittsfield City Council welcomed two new faces Tuesday: Earl Persip III and Helen Moon.

Peter White, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, John Krol, Nick Caccamo, Chris Connell, Donna Todd Rivers, Peter Marchetti and Anthony Simonelli began new terms.

Marchetti was swiftly re-elected to his second term as city council president. But the vote for vice president was split between Mazzeo and Krol, who narrowly won the role for the second consecutive time.

Marchetti looked at his already divided city council and offered some advice.

“We all take votes every day we are up here, and we may agree or disagree,” Marchetti says. “When we are done with the votes, we push in the chairs and we are ready to take the next vote because the vote you take tomorrow may not be the same exact vote you take the next day. And collectively as a city council we need to do what’s best for the city of Pittsfield.”

One of the first orders of business is approving borrowing for more than $1 million for a toter system to replace the current curbside trash collection program, which proponents say would lower annual operating costs.

Many councilors have been critical of the borrowing plan, saying it’s a chance to give taxpayers a break.

There was no change in the corner office. Democrat Linda Tyer is halfway through her first four-year term as mayor.

“Every day, together, we are given a mission to work our way through critical decisions, to observe community sentiment, and, on occasion, to lead our citizens despite their reservations,” Tyer says.