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

In race to replace Kronick in Ward 2, Pittsfield city council hopefuls Blumin and Bandani debate

Brittany Bandani and Alexander Blumin.
Josh Landes
Brittany Bandani and Alexander Blumin.

Two of three candidates running for the open Ward 2 seat on the Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council debated this week ahead of the September 19th preliminary election.

Alexander Blumin and Brittany Bandani faced off at the PCTV-hosted event at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Tuesday night. Soncere Williams did not appear due to a family emergency. The trio is competing to fill the seat of outgoing one-term city councilor Charles Kronick, a conservative who has earned a controversial reputation in municipal politics with his combative approach to governance and liberal use of the charter objection.

Blumin, who has received Kronick’s endorsement, said he’s running to represent homeowners, business owners, and taxpayers.

“I emigrated from Ukraine in 1994," said Blumin. "I bought my house on Hamlin Street in 2005. Next year, I bought another house. I'm running a rental business for low-income disabled tenants. The reason I decided to run is obvious. We have extreme property taxes, we have water and sewer rising each and every year, and on the top of that we have absolutely unsustainable city budget, which is $205 million.”

Bandani described herself as a political newcomer.

“I moved here in the summer of 2021 after I sat for the Massachusetts bar exam," she said. "I'm a practicing family law attorney in the area, I live right on North Street in the heart of downtown, and I'm here because I want to help reinvigorate and revitalize Pittsfield. And I think that an essential quality to that endeavor is fresh blood. So, I'm here to try and offer a fresh perspective.”

The candidates were asked to opine on calls for alternate emergency services demanded by local activists following the police killing of Miguel Estrella in March 2022 while the 22-year-old was experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Police should be more intelligent, approaching mental health of people on the street, should be more kind, more intelligent, and more training should be provided, but no more taxes for social service workers from my property and from your property, not even $1," said Blumin.

Bandani disagreed.

“I think a lot of a lot of programs are under resourced and under funded," she countered. "I think when it comes to Pittsfield PD, we have to figure out, in a situation like that, are they the ones that should be handling it? And if someone's in the midst of a mental health crisis that could turn violent, what other alternate emergency services can we utilize? So, my response to that is, instead of relying solely on Pittsfield PD, we need more social workers, we need more people who are trained in social services to step in and provide crisis intervention.”

The candidates were asked to cite a recent Pittsfield city council decision they disagreed with. Bandani chose the vote against reinstating a controversial mosquito control program in Pittsfield.

“The mosquito problem has been exceptional this summer," she said. "I wish we met more in the middle. I know that that vote was tight. I wish people on the side of, here are the health complications of spraying, here are the environmental implications of spraying would have listened more to the people that are really suffering. I know there's people on Holmes Road who couldn't go outside for more than a few minutes because that's how bad the mosquitoes were. And that real life, lived, local experience matters. And there's sort of these global environmental health safety hazards that, although valid, I wish both sides had listened to each other better.”

For his part, Blumin doubled down on the 2023 budget.

“$205 million- It's not sustainable," he repeated. "Moreover than that, if you use just simple calculator, and if you add eight times 8.9% to current 2024 – forgive me, my pronunciation – If you add 8.9% to current city budget of $205 million, you just add 8.9% eight times, which corresponds to eight years. If city going to the same way, increasing city budget 8.9%, city budget will be doubled in eight years. I repeat, this is extremely serious- City budget will be doubled in eight years.”

You can hear the full debate here:

Pittsfield City Council Ward 2 Debate 9-5-23.mp3

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