© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bidding For City Council Seat, Hot Dog Ranch Owner Says Pittsfield Is “Stagnant”

A street lined with buildings has a row of flowering trees in between lanes of traffic
Josh Landes

Six candidates are vying for four open at-large Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council seats in the November 2nd election. Only two of them aren’t already sitting on the 11-member body. One of them is Craig Benoit, the 61-year-old owner of the Hot Dog Ranch on West Housatonic Street. The political newcomer tells WAMC that lingering frustration over how the city handled the COVID-19 pandemic inspired his run.

BENOIT: Remember back in November, during the COVID crisis, when [Mayor Linda Tyer] shut all our restaurants down, and we were the only city in Massachusetts that was closed down and that- I didn't see any reason for that. There was no contact. We got a petition together, we went to city hall. They didn't even come out to meet us, then we had some more meetings. And finally, we have meetings with the mayor every week, and we kind of settled our differences. But it was kind of like, our voice wasn't heard about why should we all be shut down when you could go to Lee, Lenox and Lanesborough over the hill and you could still have dinner. So that kind of prompted me on that we need, we’ve got to have more communication between the citizens of Pittsfield and the city government.

WAMC: Are there other issues that you found yourself disagreeing with Mayor Tyer about?

You know, one of the things that I'm going on is really there's nothing I can do about what happened in the past, because I wasn't on the board and I didn't attend any meetings that I didn't do any of it. So my intentions that are going to be to focus on the future, and all the things that we need to do, where, if one of the topics comes up and that was voted on in the past that I didn't agree with, yes, I'll make sure that I say something about it. I'm going to vote for the city of Pittsfield residents. I'm not one side or the other. I'm not that. I want the best for the city of Pittsfield.

Politically speaking, Craig, how do you describe yourself?

Very open minded. I like I said, this is the city of Pittsfield. It's not national elections where you're Democrat, Republican. I'm here to vote for the best thing for our city, residents of Pittsfield. I mean, that's my concern right now, is what is good for us. I'm concerned about our public safety here. I'm concerned about the police force, the fire, how the conditions of our roads, how do we get rid of the panhandlers downtown. It's just local stuff. I'm only concerned with the local situation and what we can do to better the lives of the city of Pittsfield residents.

As a business owner in Pittsfield, do you feel like there's issues around that topic of business that you want to represent specifically?

Well, from talking to constituents in town and other business people, Pittsfield, it's a little tough to do business here. There's a little lot of hoops to jump through. There's little things that maybe we can do to attract more business, but we need to make the process simpler for business to come in, whether it is the permitting process, or all those kind of processes with the building department, with the health department, just make it so as streamlined so it's easier for us to operate. I mean, one of the things that's coming up right now is that $40 million that we want to know how the city of Pittsfield is going to spend. Well, we were suspended last year, our liquor license –when we were in COVID and we were shut down – we weren’t able to use our liquor license for six months. So when we renewed this year, we still had to pay full price. But on the other hand, I had a place in Lanesborough – Not in Lanesborough, I'm sorry, North Adams – that all they did was charge us $100 for the year to make up. Those are the kind of business friendly things I think the city needs to look at. You know, it's not a lot of money. But it did help for everybody who were shut down. That's my personal experience. And I'm sure there's others with other small businesses in this community that I don't know about yet, because it really hasn't affected me, but now they're coming to talk to me. So I want to try to deal with that.

What do you see right now as the major issues of this election? What do you think folks in Pittsfield are looking to hear from politicians coming into 2022?

I think everybody, from when I talked to all the people in my constituency, is it's time for change. It's time to change up the just the regular standard of the way the city has been doing business. We need some new blood, we need some new ideas. I think the city is getting stagnant and that's what I think that all my constituents are saying.

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.
Related Content