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White hopes to lean on formidable electoral base in Pittsfield city council race

A bearded white man wears a dark blue jacket and purple and black and white striped tie
City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Pete White.

A job placement specialist at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is running for re-election in the November 2nd Pittsfield, Massachusetts municipal election.

Since his first run for one of Pittsfield’s four at-large city council seats, Pete White, 43, has built a solid electoral base. In 2015, he secured around 5,500 votes – 15% of the total cast. Fast-forward to the most recent election in 2019, and White took home over 7,600. With 64% of the total votes cast, he was second only to fellow at-large councilor and council president Peter Marchetti for vote share as a citywide candidate.

“I try not to make promises," White told WAMC. "What I can say is that I've always been approachable, accessible, and dedicated to Pittsfield. And I'll continue to do that. Whether that be through social media, phone calls, just being out places where people have the opportunity to talk to me and share thoughts. And lately, a lot of responding to emails. That's what they can expect if I'm reelected, working on the issues that they bring forward, and that we see come forward on the council agenda. A lot of times, it's really hard to predict what coming years are going to be like. We need to continue to work on, you know, trying to alleviate homelessness, we need to continue to keep and make Pittsfield more business friendly and a place where people want to live and have activities to do while they live here. Because that's how we attract new employees to the companies that are looking.”

As he seeks his fourth term, White says the council will have its hands full next year.

“Really continuing to recover from COVID and the devastation it has wreaked on everything," said the councilor. "Trying to get more businesses to come into the city and trying to expand the businesses that are doing well in the city, trying to give relief to the ones that are not doing well. I guess we will consistently be talking about North Street, as far as what really works, what doesn't work. I think we're going to continue to be looking at public health and safety with different proposals coming through but also, you know, how do we make some of these jobs more attractive so that we can fill, like with the police department, to the level that we're budgeted to, to make sure that the community sees the police force as doing the job that the community wants it to do and also defining what the community has for expectations.”

White responded to restaurant owner and at-large candidate Craig Benoit’s comments to WAMC that Pittsfield is getting stagnant and needs new blood in its leadership.

“I think it's a lot easier being a candidate in a race versus an incumbent in some ways, because, and this is, nothing on any candidate that you've mentioned, but when you're a candidate, you can propose a lot of things that you may or may not know are possible or not possible," said the incumbent. "So, a candidate can make a lot of promises to voters that an incumbent probably wouldn't make based on knowing exactly what is and what isn't impossible within city government. A city councilor is only as effective during a meeting is if they can get five other people to vote with them for a simple majority and seven others to vote with them if it's something that needs two thirds. So, I really think that we need teamwork to be able to be effective. And as far as stagnant goes, I think that we've moved forward in many areas, and we're trying new things, which sometimes I think that we probably get more negative comments on things that we're moving forward with because we're looking to make too much change.”

White says Pittsfield’s encouragement of private development is an example of how it’s recently flourished, pointing to the city providing water and sewage lines to the Bousquet Mountain ski resort as it undergoes improvements by new owner Mill Town Capital.

“We have businesses like LTI Smartglass, Lenco, Pittsfield Plastic Engineering, and other companies that are doing fairly well," he said. "They might not get the press consistently that a Berkshire Health Systems gets or some of the other popular places, but we have a lot of businesses that are just doing what they can. So I wouldn't say that they're stagnant.”

He attributes his electoral success to keeping the city at the forefront of his decision making in council chambers.

“This should be all about how is this affecting Pittsfield," White told WAMC. "How is this going to better Pittsfield? Or if we do something wrong, how is this going to hurt Pittsfield?”

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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