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Four Pittsfield City Councilors Bid Farewell

Before a major shakeup in the new year, the Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council met for the last time this year Tuesday night.

As a contentious term comes to a close, four members of the council will not return when the body reconvenes in January. Each were given an opportunity to give farewell remarks at the end of the uncommonly quick and cheery meeting.

“When I first came to the city I was inspired by an opportunity to truly make the city, we used to say, the greatest small city in the Northeast," said Ward 6 Councilor John Krol, who did not run for re-election. He is wrapping up his fifth term.

“A lot of us here are in a unique club because we’re one of the few councilors in the history of the city of Pittsfield that actually built a high school," said Krol. "So over the last 10 years I look back, we’ve accomplished quite a bit collectively. And for all we hear about the divides in this city, we certainly have accomplished a lot.”

At-Large City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo is also coming to the end of a decade on the council.

“I researched many things, I’ve become more knowledgeable in things that I never thought I would be knowledgeable in, like wastewater treatment and hawkers and peddlers and things that are etched in my brain forever,” said the councilor.

Mazzeo – an outspoken critic of Mayor Linda Tyer – did not run for re-election. She instead tried to unseat Tyer, then requested a recount that reconfirmed her defeat, and has accused the Tyer campaign and city of vote tampering and election fraud. Mazzeo has suggested she might sue the city over those claims.

“I really developed a passion for being involved and making sure things are done the right way, and I don’t think you won’t not see me up there on the other side of that microphone, continuing as council meetings go on and making sure that we’re doing the right things for the residents,” she said Tuesday night.

Departing Ward 5 councilor Donna Todd Rivers said she never thought she would end up in public office.

“I kind of want to thank the community who many years ago kind of picked me," said Rivers. "I was a big community activist, working with community on all kinds of boards and commissions and someone said ‘please represent us, please run for office.’ And I said ‘no’ a whole lot of times, and then they were like, ‘we will do it if you do it,’ and I just want to be thankful for those people who saw something in me and who thought I could represent them.”

Rivers, elected in 2015, is stepping down to attend to family issues.

“This wasn’t really my choice to step down," said the emotional councilor. "I am. But I’ll be back. So thank you.”

Finally, Ward 7 councilor Anthony Simonelli – who also says he is turning to family matters as he leaves office – offered incoming and returning councilors his reflections after eight years in municipal government.

“Be your own person," said Simonelli. "To me, it’s always been more important not to do the correct thing but to do the right thing. And sometimes when you think, well, the correct thing to do is to do this. But the right thing is to do something else. That’s what I have always stood on, and I was not always on the side of the popular vote, and that’s OK. But I could justify it when I saw somebody on the street as to why I did that.”

Bar owner Yuki Cohen will replace Mazzeo as the city’s fourth at-large city councilor, and Patrick Kavey, Dina Guiel Lampiasi, and former councilor Anthony Maffuccio will fill the seats of Rivers, Krol, and Simonelli, respectively, in January.

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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