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Mazzeo Tops Tyer In Pittsfield Preliminary Election

City of Pittsfield
Pittsfield's unofficial numbers on the results of Tuesday's preliminary election

The mayor of Pittsfield has lost the city’s preliminary election to a city council rival.

Unofficial results tallied by the city Tuesday night had At-Large Councilor Melissa Mazzeo up by almost 300 votes ahead of Mayor Linda Tyer, with around 2,860 votes.

Tyer, elected in 2015, is running for her second term. Mazzeo ran on a platform of frustration, framing Tyer's tenure as ineffective and disappointing. Mazzeo spoke about the results at her campaign party at her family’s South Street restaurant.

“I think what it showed is that people want to change, and they want to change in the positive," said Mazzeo. "And it’s not about all the bad things that are going on in Pittsfield, it’s about what people want looking forward, to move things in a positive direction and that’s something that I feel I’ve been really trying to resonate with people, as I’ve put my ten years in and I’ve learned, and now I’m ready to lead, and I want to lead with accountability, but I know that the things that I will try and implement and change are going to be a good, positive thing, and I think that’s what people saw.”

When asked about how a positive message meshed with her campaign’s largely critical approach to date, Mazzeo offered an explanation.

“Well the positivity is that there’s a positive message to what people what," said the city councilor. "The negativity was that the mayor had four years to implement these things as the first four-year term, and didn’t do it. And that is – I’ve been hearing from people saying ‘why is our crime going up instead of going down’ and things like that. So if I’m able to implement things that I think is going to change time and it makes it go away and go lower, that’s a positive for Pittsfield.”

Mazzeo said she hopes to better support the city’s business community before courting “big businesses.”

“So many of the people that you see around me that are supporting me are local businesspeople, and they understand that they don’t get the tax breaks, they haven’t asked for increment financing and things like that, but what they’re asking for is to not be held up to these 80-year-old ordinances that are chosen and implemented when they want them to be,” said the candidate.

In downtown Pittsfield, Tyer met with supporters at Patrick’s Pub.

“We are certainly going to consider this next phase of this campaign," said the mayor. "We’re going to pivot, and we’re going to fight even harder, and we are going to roll out some new campaign strategies.”

Tyer vowed to press on.

“We have always considered this to be a preliminary strategy followed by a general election strategy, and we always knew that this race would be won in two phases,” she told WAMC.

“Mayor Tyer’s doing a great job in Pittsfield, and we want to continue doing that, we want to keep the momentum Pittsfield has with increased jobs, better services, a more responsive government," said Tom Sakshaug, Tyer’s campaign manager. “This is where the hardcore activists come out, in the preliminary election. Final election, I fully expect the people who just sat back and expected Linda to just win to come out and vote, so I think we’re going to do just fine in the final election.”

Candidates Scott Graves and Karen Kalinowski were eliminated from the race, getting around 350 and 300 votes respectively. Sakshaug said he expected Tyer and Mazzeo to split those votes in the general.

“Those people may be just anti the establishment, but I think talking to the other people holding signs at polls today, as I did quite a bit, a lot of them might go to Linda as well as go to Melissa,” he told WAMC.

In race for the City Council’s Ward 6 seat, Dina Guiel Lampiasi topped the 3-person field by a large margin, winning more than 530 votes to second place finisher Joseph Nichols’ 215. Patrick Kavey was the top vote getter in Ward 5 with over 400 votes, beating former ward city councilor Jonathon Lothrop, who received around 350 votes.  The council candidates, along with Tyer and Mazzeo, will face off again in the general election November 5th.

Just over 6,000 of Pittsfield’s registered voters – 22% of the total – went to the polls. That means the preliminary election rivaled the participation in the last general election in 2017, which saw around 6,300 voters – 23% of the total – turn out for the non-mayoral election.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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