Caccamo Won’t Seek Fifth Pittsfield City Council Term; Merriam Declares Ward 4 Bid | WAMC

Caccamo Won’t Seek Fifth Pittsfield City Council Term; Merriam Declares Ward 4 Bid

Feb 5, 2021

WAMC News has learned that Pittsfield, Massachusetts city councilor Nick Caccamo will not seek a fifth term.

Caccamo says he won’t mount a campaign this fall for the seat representing Pittsfield’s Ward 3 on the 11-member body.

“The timing feels right," he told WAMC. "Most in part, the last three years. I've been at UMass full time, doing a joint master's program in Public Policy and Regional Planning. So that program is coming to an end in June.”

Caccamo will remain in Pittsfield, and says he wants to focus on finding a job and re-entering the labor force. However, a future run for public office isn’t out of the question.

“I don't want to make any, like, impromptu decisions about seeking higher office not knowing what the future holds, right?" said Caccamo. "I certainly don't want to rule it out. But I don't want to commit to anything as well.”

Asked about points of pride from his tenure, the Ward 3 councilor pointed to his early efforts to expand transit infrastructure in Pittsfield through bike lanes on Elm Street.

“It was one of the first places in the city that adopted sort of separated bike lanes, particularly around the commerce section by Joanne’s Diner and some of those other smaller, small businesses there," he said. "But I think, you know, that that was some of the early work that, you know, is being replicated in other parts of the city right now. So there's a, there's an honest effort to increase sort of multimodal transportation methods, particularly around sort of bike infrastructure. We see that with the Shared Streets project, MASS Department of Transportation projects includes Complete Street elements. We’re a Complete Streets city. You know, I was helpful in sort of adopting that policy for the city. That's brought in grant money.”

Caccamo has plenty on his docket as he surveys his final year.

“Thinking of how important the zoning ordinance for the city is, it's like, a next great step for the city might be to engage a consultant on reforming the entirety of the zoning ordinance," he said. "And that's not really something a counselor can do sort of on their own, you know, as a sole entity. So, it'd be really important for the city to sort of take all of these land use issues that we're seeing with outdoor cannabis cultivation, solar production, so forth, and really sort of think about those things. And then there's one step further, it's like, you know, the last time the city completed a master plan was in 2009. And here we are in 2021. So you know that that plan is pretty old, and things have changed in the city.”

As far as the rest of the council, at-large incumbents Peter Marchetti, Pete White and Yuki Cohen all plan on defending their seats, while Earl Persip says he still hasn’t decided. Among the ward representatives, Dina Guiel Lampiasi of Ward 6, Patrick Kavey of Ward 5 and Anthony Maffuccio of Ward 7 will all seek reelection.

Meanwhile, in Wards 2 and 4, councilors Kevin Morandi and Christopher Connell say they will not run for re-election. 

“I really don’t want to get into it too much with you because one of the things that you ran that was blown kind of out of proportion was the supposedly racial post that I put on Facebook, so I really don’t want to comment on much of anything other than I’m not running and I have my own personal reasons, OK?” Connell told WAMC.

In July, Persip – the council’s only Black member – took Connell to task for sharing an easily debunked article about Irish slavery in America shared from a Facebook page that posted anti-Black Lives Matter content.

Michael Merriam, who challenged Connell in the 2019 election, tells WAMC that he intends to run for the seat.

“Well, I thought we had such a great turnout last year, two years ago, running for Ward 4," he told WAMC. "A lot of positive feedback from the residents of Ward 4. It was my intention to run again in Ward 4, and I feel this is the perfect opportunity with an open seat.”

Merriam garnered almost 1,100 votes to Connell’s 1,300 in 2019.

Courtney Gilardi – who has led a campaign against a cell tower’s installation in the ward – also says she will run for the seat.

“Ever since Chris Connell announced that he’s wasn’t running again in Ward 4, I’ve been really strongly asked and encouraged by my neighbors and by the community to run for council, and I do believe that Ward 4 will continue to need a strong voice for the people and a responsive advocate,” she told WAMC.

Mill Town Capital consultant and Downtown Pittsfield Inc. board member Nicholas Russo – who also sits on the traffic commission – tells WAMC that he’s considering a run for the open Ward 2 seat.

Ward 1’s Helen Moon says she has not decided if she will seek re-election.

Pittsfield’s preliminary election is September 14th, with the general on November 2nd.