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Pittsfield At-Large City Council Candidates Talk Trash, Roads, Schools At BCC Debate

A row of people sit behind a long table with a man to their left standing behind a podium.
Josh Landes
/
WAMC
The at-large city council candidates gathered at Berkshire Community College. PCTV's Sean Serre moderated the debate.

Eight candidates are running for four Pittsfield, Massachusetts at-large city council seats.

Seven of the hopefuls debated at Berkshire Community College Monday in the second forum held by BCC, Pittsfield Community Television, and the Pittsfield Gazette.

The Pittsfield City Council has four at-large councilors and seven ward representatives.

Incumbents include two-term councilor Pete White:

“I am honored to have been chosen Best Town Official of the Berkshires for the past three years by the Berkshire Eagle readers, and as a union member myself, I am very proud to be honored this year with Berkshire Labor Assembly’s Legislator Award for my support of labor causes.”

Council president Peter Marchetti, who has served seven non-consecutive terms:

“I believe Pittsfield is in a critical place in time. We have seen much progress, especially with job creation, with the welcoming of Wayfair, and hopefully soon after tomorrow, EMA. We have seen that the mayor’s red carpet team is producing results and streamlining the process for recruitment of new businesses. All of this is being done while we work to assist existing companies such as LTI Smartglass and Modern Mold and Tool expand and hire addition employees.”

And first-term councilor Earl Persip:

“For over 24 years I’ve worked in community non-profits. I’ve worked with youth, family, and business leaders, and various city agencies. I’ve served on non-profit boards, I’ve been part of the animal control commission, I’m currently on the Pittsfield education foundation board, and each of these experiences help me grow as a leader, and perhaps more importantly, a collaborative teammate.” 

All three incumbents have voiced their support for Mayor Linda Tyer, who is running for reelection against at-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo.

Challengers include Uncorked Wine & Beer Lounge manager Auron Stark:

“I want to focus on sustainable technology, helping our homeless, and dealing with the opioid crisis in new and exciting ways. Obviously, the things we’ve been doing up until now hasn’t been working, and I think transparency and communication between government officials and the citizens of our city is what’s most important.”

Yuki Cohen, owner of downtown bar Methuselah and a former New York City investment banker:

“I am running for city council because somebody asked me to. And they believed in me, they thought that I’d be a great fit for the city and I am humbled to be here. I also come from a very humble background. My parents are immigrants, and I am honored and privileged to be an American citizen.”

Alex Blumin, a fixture at the city council who criticizes its leadership each meeting:

“I am running to represent tax payers and Pittsfield residents. I will not be working for special interest groups, OK? I am telling everybody in advance, OK? My main interest will be Pittsfield residents and tax payers, and specifically I will be working to reduce or at least to freeze property taxes.”

And Pittsfield native Jay Hamling, a nurse:

“I do have the ability to look at the city in a few different roles, and that is one, as a taxpayer here in the city as well as a homeowner, as a parent, and also as a son whose father still lives in the same home that I grew up in. So like you, I share the same that concerns you do for our infrastructure, for the safety of our city, for our taxes, for the expenses that we have in the city.”

The eighth candidate, Richard Latura, who raised eyebrows with an aggressively tough on crime interview with iBerkshires in August, did not attend the debate.

The forum, moderated by PCTV Executive Director Sean Serre, saw the candidates discuss topics ranging from the mayor’s home improvement plan, zoning bylaws around renewable energy infrastructure, the city’s controversial wastewater plant replacement plan, trash collection, consolidating public schools, roads, and more. You can listen to the full debate here:

pittsfield_at_large_city_councilor_debate_10-21-19.mp3

All eight candidates are on the ballot November 5th. City councilors serve two-year terms in the city of Pittsfield. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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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