After Tuesday’s preliminary election in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, four city council candidates will carry on in a pair of ward races.
The city’s unofficial vote tallies from the more than 6,000 residents who went to the polls have determined who will continue on to the November 5th general election.
In Ward 6, Dina Guiel Lampiasi topped the field by a large margin, winning over 530 votes to second place finisher Joseph Nichols’ 215. At Mayor Linda Tyer’s election night party, Guiel Lampiasi attributed the win to a message of positivity.
“I think Pittsfielders and particularly Ward 6, they want an elevated conversation," she told WAMC. "They want to know that somebody’s going to show up for them. They want to know that their ward councilor is going to be responsive and that we’re genuinely interested in knowing what they need so that we can better advocate.”
First time voter and Ward 6 resident Ranisha Grice says it was that kind of messaging and outreach that finally brought her out to the polls.
“To get to know who the officials are and them actually coming to us, it helps the experience," said Grice. "So when you’re out in the community it makes a difference, especially when they know me by name.”
“Going through the primary, I already have a lot of name recognition, I know a lot of people because I owned the Cove Bakery for many years on Pecks Road," said Nichols. “So I had a feeling and I knew I didn’t have to work too hard to place second or first in the primary. So now the hard work begins, and I’ll be attending as many functions and going door to door and meeting as many Ward 6 residents – as I’ve already done some of that in past elections.”
Craig Gaetani and Edward Carmel were eliminated from the Ward 6 race in Tuesday’s preliminary election.
Nichols, a former city councilor who represented Ward 7 for one term, prioritizes growing Pittsfield’s tax base, and says he has the experience to make it happen.
“To do that I’ve proposed some zoning changes to help lay the groundwork and the foundation for the next decade of growth that we haven’t really experienced in a long time,” he told WAMC.
Another city politician says his Election Day success came from another kind of outreach.
“What I think worked was us being out in the streets every single day talking to voters. I also think us dancing today – did you see us dancing?” asked Patrick Kavey, the top vote getter in Ward 5 with over 400 votes. He set up shop with a boom box in downtown Pittsfield Tuesday. Kavey spoke to WAMC at Mazzeo’s party.
“We purposefully set up at places that were major intersections where we knew voters would be driving by to remind them to vote, and we danced," he laughed. "So what else would you do, right?”
Kavey reiterated his campaign platform as he eyes his November confrontation with second place finisher and former Ward 5 city councilor Jonathon Lothrop, who received around 350 votes.
“Education, technical training, preserving our conservation lands but making downtown zoning a little more lenient, trying to help small businesses open up,” he told WAMC.
“Well, what I’m all about is the ability to balance the interests of development in Pittsfield and Ward 5 with the needs of the residents, and making sure that whatever development occurs doesn’t hurt people’s property values," said Lothrop. “That’s a big, big thing in Ward 5 because we have a lot of very overlapping uses in some areas.”
He served as the ward’s councilor from 2003 to 2015, and attributed his 2nd place finish to a slow start – saying he is ready to kick it into high gear for the general.
“I hope that as the residents become familiarized with my record and experience and knowledge and ability to get things done in the community, they’ll certainly recognize that, and hopefully be supportive of my efforts to get back on the council,” Lothrop told WAMC.
Eugene Maselli was eliminated from the Ward 5 race in Tuesday’s preliminary election.
The mayoral contenders have weighed in on the Ward 5 race. First place preliminary finisher and At-Large City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo is backing Kavey. She spoke to WAMC Wednesday.
“I think he’s got a lot of great ideas," said Mazzeo. "When he started, we sat down and had a conversation. I told him, I said go out, meet everybody. He’s doing a good job. He’s got a lot of energy as you could see yesterday, they danced all day.”
Mayor Tyer described Lothrop – her former city council colleague – as an outstanding representative of Ward 5.
“We’ve got a track record of working really well together, and I’m looking forward to supporting him in this election,” said the mayor.
With the preliminary out of the way, candidates have just over six weeks before the November 5th election to make their case to Pittsfield voters.