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Tyer Steps Up To Challenge Pittsfield Mayor Bianchi, City Council To See Fresh Faces

Jim Levulis

Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi is running for a third term and unlike in 2013, he will face competition. City Clerk Linda Tyer is challenging the fellow Democrat. Next year’s city council will also feature new faces.Some 100 people came out Tuesday afternoon holding signs reading “I’m with Linda” for Tyer’s announcement on the steps of City Hall.

“Right now there is an absence of leadership and it has costly consequences,” Tyer said to the crowd. “Directionless, divided and wasting time. I will not be distracted by outside interests. Pittsfield will have my undivided attention.”

Mayor Bianchi, who’scome under fire for continuing to work for an energy company while holding office, says he is happy for competition. The Democrat ran unopposed in 2013.

“As I said I felt a little bit cheated last time by not having any competition,” Bianchi said. “This will give me the opportunity to get out there and campaign and get out and talk about some of the great accomplishments we’ve had and my vision for the city of Pittsfield and share that vision with many people.”

When asked about the job Mayor Bianchi has done, Tyer said he is very well-intentioned and hardworking.

“I have a different set of skills to offer,” Tyer said. “I have a different style of leadership. I want to make that contribution and I trust the voters. They’ll make the right decision.”

Tyer was first elected to the Pittsfield City Council in 2003 and appointed as clerk in 2009. She’s won two elections since. Credited with initiatives like providing iPads for city councilors to reduce paper use for council agendas and documents, the Democrat says now is the time for a progressive, 21st century agenda.

“I really think that we have some serious issues with our infrastructure,” Tyer said. “I think we need to make more of an effort to become energy efficient. I think that the relationships between the various shareholders have gotten a little bit divided. Everyone is in a silo. It’s my intention to bring everyone together and have a community conversation about how we can become a modern 21st century city.”

Under a new city charter, the next mayor will be elected to a four-year term instead of the current two. Bianchi says he wants to see projectslike the Berkshire Innovation Center, new Taconic High School and reconstruction of North Street completed.

“I can see a transformation coming for the Morningside area and when you have your most challenged neighborhood improved I think that improves the whole city,” Bianchi said. “So there are a lot of great projects I’m working on. My dream would be to have a new police station, which we desperately need.”

Tyer says the four-year term did factor into her decision, adding it’s time to continue progress made under former Mayor James Ruberto, Bianchi’s predecessor. Tyer will serve as clerk for the rest of 2015, but others in her office will handle election results for the mayoral race. Similar methods are used when a clerk runs for reelection.

Meanwhile, Ward 5 councilor Jonathan Lothrop will not seek a seventh term, saying he wants to spend more time with his family after 12 years of service. He says projects like the Pittsfield Airport expansion and downtown initiatives stick out as big issues.

“The downtown revitalization was huge,” Lothrop said. “I think putting confidence back into the city that this is a city that can accomplish great things whether it be The Beacon, Colonial, Barrington Stage or streetscape.”

Another among the 11-member council is bowing out as well. In March, at-large councilor Barry Clairmont announced he isn’t seeking a third term. Last week, former Ward 2 city councilor and state representative candidate Pete White announced he is running for an at-large council seat. 

“I’d like to work on anything the city can do to aid in the problems we have with drug addiction in the city,” White said. “Also anything we can do with population increases hopefully or stopping the decreases. That includes the economic development piece of making sure we have jobs here.”

Electoral nomination papers are available Thursday. If there are more than two mayoral candidates they will face off in the September 22nd primary. Barring a tie, the top two will go to the November 3rd election.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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