Election season is underway in Berkshire County – a look at the races in Pittsfield and North Adams.
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer is watching the campaigns for city council from the comfort of City Hall’s corner office. Serving Pittsfield’s first four-year mayoral term, the Democrat isn’t up for reelection until 2019.
“So there will be no mayor’s race on this year’s municipal election ballot,” Tyer says.
City elections in Pittsfield and North Adams are non-partisan. City councilors serve two-year terms.
“And what we know about elections is that it is a competition of ideas,” Tyer says. “And I think that there is a lot of interesting energy, enthusiasm. New candidates have stepped forward. There are incumbents who are running –people who have years of experience. And I think this is a great opportunity for voters to take a look at the city council and the school committee as really vital and important elected bodies that have in equal measure have an ability, influence on the future of our city.”
In Pittsfield, Dina Guiel, James Gleason, William Wright, William Keane, and Rhonda Serre are challenging incumbent councilors Kevin Morandi, Nick Caccamo, Chris Connell, Donna Todd Rivers and Anthony Simonelli, respectively.
Helen Moon is vying for Lisa Tully's seat against Michael Cirullo. In her second term, Tully is not running for reelection.
“I’ve really appreciated her reasonable thoughtfulness when it comes to complex issues like the municipal operating budget,” Tyer says.
At-Large Councilor Kathleen Amuso, also in her second term, is not seeking reelection.
“Her greatest legacy will be her commitment and persistence in making sure the city of Pittsfield has a new high school,” Tyer says.
Edward James Carmel, Earl Persip III and Craig Gaetani are vying for Amuso’s seat, or seats held by incumbents Melissa Mazzeo, Peter White, and Council President Peter Marchetti.
Council Vice President John Krol is running unopposed to represent Ward 6.
Meanwhile in North Adams, 16 people are running for city council.
They include incumbents Council President Ben Lamb, Vice President Keith Bona, Eric Buddington, Joshua Moran and Wayne Wilkinson. Those looking to join the council are Rebbecca Cohen, H. Merle Knight, Bryan Sapienza, Roger Eurbin, Paul Hopkins, Keifer Gammell, Ashley Shade, Marie Harpin, Jason LaForest, Scott Orr, and Clarise Vanderburgh.
Outgoing Mayor Richard Alcombright says he is encouraged by the number of candidates.
“We made the decision and made it public that I was not going to run, I made that decision in part – in large part of the fact that – I think that the city is in a better place that it was in 8 or 10 years ago and that I was very excited and quiet honestly thrilled to see the level and numbers of new folks out there who wanted to take leadership roles in the city,” Alcombright says.
Councilor Lisa Blackmer is running to represent the First Berkshire District in the Massachusetts House. Councilor Ronald Boucher announced his intention to run for mayor, but has since dropped out. Kate Hanley Merrigan is not seeking another council term.
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce is planning two candidate forums at the Greylock Mill.
Voters can meet the five mayoral candidates – Tom Bernard, Rachel Branch, current City Councilor Bob Moulton Jr., Robert Martelle and Peter Oleskiewicz, on September 14th. The preliminary election to narrow the choice to two candidates is September 19th.
“It’s a sign of two things: People are coming out because they are frustrated with what is happening or not happening, and I would hate to think that is it,” Alcombright says. “But, then the other side of the coin, and the real positive side of the coin, is because they are motivated, they see the city as going in the right direction and they want to hop on the train and help lead.”
The forum for city council candidates is October 19th.
The general election in both cities is November 7th.