Pittsfield Voters Go To Polls In Tuesday’s Preliminary Election
On Tuesday, Pittsfield, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls for a preliminary municipal election.
The vote will winnow down one race citywide to two candidates: the four-way mayoral battle. Meanwhile, in Wards 5 and 6, voters will similarly pick two names to continue on to the November 5th general election.
Three challengers are attempting to oust first-term Mayor Linda Tyer. The most prominent is city council veteran at-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo, who has repeatedly attacked Tyer’s leadership. She’s highlighted issues like the city’s response to violent crime, infrastructure projects like Tyer’s wastewater plant overhaul plan, and the paid parking system in the downtown core.
“I’ve been listening for 10 years, and it’s the same stories," Mazzeo told WAMC. "So I’m thinking, if we haven’t figured that out in 10 years, why? And as I look back, a lot of it is, well, this is what we do, we’ve always done this this way, we always do this this way – and that to me, is what frustrates a lot of people. And every year they have this new hope. We went with this four-year mayor and everybody a lot of hope that things were going to really get done because we gave more time, and we didn’t see it.”
Retired police officer Karen Kalinowsky is also taking issue with Tyer’s leadership, portraying her as out of touch and inaccessible. She says the city must focus on infrastructure, bringing order to the school department, and wants to see more aggressive policing in Pittsfield. The candidate told WAMC that she was disheartened after bringing the issue up with Police Chief Michael Wynn.
“People are complaining about people passed out on the benches in the bus stop – get them out of there. If they’re drunk the police can do something about it. They say they can’t. Now, he also said that they did wait until one of them drank alcohol and they arrested him, and he said well, the judge just let him go, saying the police were harassing him. But that’s a judge’s opinion," said Kalinowsky. "The law says if you drink from an open container in a public place, it’s arrestable. I think the police should just do their job and arrest them.”
The third challenger, Scott Graves, claims Pittsfield’s red tape has hindered growth in the city. The businessman wants to see more liberal economic development strategies employed.
“I just see so much frustration, and I see so many things being demolished, and being a building hugger I just can’t – I just don’t want it to happen anymore," said Graves. "I want growth. I just see too much, I see too many friends living, I see businesses getting discouraged or giving up and going somewhere else and opening and flourishing. And why can’t they do that here?”
For her part, Tyer dismissed her opponents’ criticism as “baloney” at an August candidates forum at Berkshire Community College, and said her record spoke for itself.
“The creation of the red carpet team and the hiring of the city’s business development manager. That has been key to our success in energizing our economy. The Berkshire Innovation Center was also voted upon in the early part of my term. We’ve also made significant investments in public safety in the early part of my term," said the incumbent. "I’m going to promise you one thing – I’m will work hard in year one, year two, year three, and in year four, even though it is an election year.”
In Ward 5, former longtime councilor Jonathan Lothrop is competing with Patrick Kavey and Eugene Maselli for the seat that councilor Donna Todd Rivers is leaving at the end of the year. Ward 6 sees Dina Guiel Lampiasi, Edward Carmel, and Craig Gaetani battling it out for the seat currently held by departing councilor John Krol.
In the city’s last general municipal election on November 7th, 2017, about a quarter of the city’s almost 28,000 registered voters cast ballots.
To hear WAMC coverage of the Ward 5 and Ward 6 candidates forum from August, click here.
Here's a complete list of Pittsfield's polling locations:
Wards 1A & 1B-Reid Middle School, 950 North Street
Ward 2A-Morningside School, 100 Burbank Street
Ward 2B-Somerset Fire Station, 9 Somerset Avenue
Ward 3A-Providence Court, 379 East Street
Ward 3B-Egremont School, 84 Egremont Avenue
Ward 4A-Herberg Middle School, 501 Pomeroy Avenue
Ward 4B-Williams School, 50 Bushey Road
Wards 5A & 5B-Berkshire Athenaeum (Pittsfield Library), 1 Wendell Avenue
Ward 6A-Columbia Arms Housing, 65 Columbus Avenue
Ward 6B-Conte Community School, 200 West Union Street
Ward 7A-Pecks Road Fire Station, 54 Pecks Road
Ward 7B-Capeless Elementary School, 86 Brooks Avenue