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Pittsfielder’s Petition Questions City Councilor’s Residency

A white man in a suit smiles in front of a grey backdrop
City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Christopher Connell

A citizen’s petition on Tuesday’s Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council meeting agenda calls into question the residency of a sitting councilor. 

The petition, submitted by Elizabeth Herland, asks the council to “determine whether Ward Four City Councilor Christopher Connell has removed from the city.” The language references city code, which requires that ward councilors live in their ward, and that “If a ward councilor or a councilor-at-large removes from the city during the councilor's term, that office shall immediately be deemed vacant and filled.”

Connell acknowledges to WAMC he is back and forth between a vacation condo in upstate New York and his home in Pittsfield, which he shares with his mother, to avoid exposing her to COVID-19. But he says that doesn’t change his legal presence in the city.

“My driver’s license is here – it’s 488 Pomeroy," said Connell. "I have homeowner’s insurance here, not just property insurance, I have homeowner’s insurance here at 488 Pomeroy. I’m not sure what else I have to do.”

In late July, Connell posted on Facebook about the situation, noting that he had sold his home on Dawes Avenue to move in with his mother and tend to her health issues. He told WAMC that he is now in Pittsfield at least two days a week. As per city code, the city council has the authority to determine if Connell has left the city.

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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