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Pittsfielders to pick city council, school committee members, city clerk Tuesday

A stone building with a colonnade.
Josh Landes

Voters in Pittsfield, Massachusetts go to the polls tomorrow to pick a new slate of city councilors, school committee members and more.

Of seven wards, there are contested city council races in wards 1, 2, 4, and 6. Kenneth Warren faces Andrea Wilson in Ward 1, Matthew Kudlate faces Charles Kronick in Ward 2, James Conant faces Andrew Wrinn in Ward 4, and incumbent Dina Guiel Lampiasi faces Edward Carmel in Ward 6. Kevin Sherman is running unchallenged in Ward 3, while incumbents Patrick Kavey and Anthony Maffuccio are unopposed in Wards 5 and 7, respectively.

In the contest for four open at-large city council seats, two challengers have emerged: restauranteur Craig Benoit and former cop Karen Kalinowsky.

Benoit says the city has grown stagnant under its current leadership.

“I'm concerned about our public safety here," he told WAMC. "I'm concerned about the police force, the fire, how the conditions of our roads, how do we get rid of the panhandlers downtown.”

Kalinowsky, who ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2019 out of frustration with Mayor Linda Tyer, says she represents the average Pittsfielder.

“They want a safe city," she told WAMC. "They support their police department, they support their fire department, they want schools that will educate their child, that their child feel safe in, and that the parents know their child feels safe in. They want to drive down roads without ruining the front end alignment, popping a tire. You know, they want to walk on sidewalks. So they're not tripping, falling, getting injured. You know, this is where our tax dollars are supposed to be going. And it just seems like for too long, not enough is going in that direction. So I'd like to see that changed.”

Among the incumbents are city council president Peter Marchetti, who’s looking for his eighth nonconsecutive two-year term this fall.

“At this time, in Pittsfield’s path, we need experience and leadership," said Marchetti. "And after everything that we've been through with the last 18 months, which has probably been the hardest time of any elected official, we were able to keep city government open and running and still making progress.”

Council vice president Pete White is seeking his fourth term.

“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," said White. "So, I really think that we need teamwork to be able to be effective.”

Earl Persip is gunning for a third term on the council.

“We can be a voice for people, and a voice on certain issues," he told WAMC. "But there's things that we don't have control over. So it's understanding the role of the city councilor, and what can be accomplished, and how to get those things done. And I think I've done that. I think I work well with the staff within the city of the Pittsfield, and the staff that work together.”

Yuki Cohen is trying to return for a second term on the council as she tries to move beyond controversy around her bar Methuselah, which was repeatedly cited for COVID-19 public health protocol violations over the last year.

“Some things I didn't do well, and I do apologize and I am very sorry and I'm humbled by all that, but I do feel like I learned," she told WAMC. "I took accountability. And I've learned a lot and I feel like that shows. I mean, I wanted to show my daughters that I could have gone away, I could have hidden, I could have moved to another place. But I wanted them and the residents to see that hey, we make mistakes, we learn from it. And here I am standing up again to try again and hopefully to try and do better going forward.”

Pittsfielders will also vote for six school committee seats Tuesday.

City Clerk Michele Benjamin is running unopposed for re-election.

Polls are 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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