Wednesday November 9, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- By the narrowest count in recent history, Daniel L. Bianchi edged out Peter M. Marchetti in the race to become the city's 38th mayor.

Bianchi won Tuesday's contest by just 106 votes, a margin of victory of less than 1 percentage point, making it the closest election in 90 years and the seventh-tightest race since mayoral elections began in 1890.

Bianchi received 6,144 votes to Marchetti's 6,038, according to unofficial results provided by City Clerk Linda Tyer's office. Of the city's 29,104 registered voters, 12,262, or 42 percent, cast ballots.

For Bianchi, Tuesday's victory vindicated a narrow, recounted loss in his 2009 run for mayor against James M. Ruberto.

Bianchi, greeting a cheering, post-election throng of supporters at the former Mazzeo's Ristorante on Winter Street, pledged to move Pittsfield forward on a path of progress and prosperity.

"Once we get a control on crime and address our education needs, we'll really be able to have an economic development program that makes sense and is effective for our community," Bianchi said. "I believe we have a bright future."

Barring a recount, Bianchi, 60, of Le Roi Drive, will be sworn in Jan. 2.

Marchetti, 43, of Courtland Place, wouldn't say Tuesday night if he planned to seek a recount. He said he'd decide today, adding that he will "continue to work for Pittsfield in the way I know how."

Though it's possible Marchetti could seek a recount, his comments sounded more conciliatory than combative, saying there's a winner and loser in every election and he has to "accept that for what it is."

"I don't know what else I can say," said Marchetti. "The voters spoke. They chose Dan. And I will do all I can to make sure Pittsfield moves forward in the direction that's best for Pittsfield."

In the run-up to the election, Bianchi framed himself as a voice of change for the city, drawing a contrast between himself and Ruberto, the sitting mayor, and Marchetti, an at-large city councilor.

During debates, Bianchi characterized Marchetti and his supporters as holdovers from Ruberto's camp -- part of an "old boy network" that was surreptitiously attempting to control the vote in Pittsfield through rumors and innuendo. Marchetti also struck back about what he said were rumors and innuendo coming from the Bianchi camp during the campaign.

Bianchi claimed Marchetti wasn't independent enough to avoid that network's influence once in office.

The message resonated with his supporters, who said that while they appreciated Ruberto's work, they were ready for a major shakeup in City Hall.

At the polls, Bianchi's supporters criticized Ruberto and Marchetti for being too focused on North Street and attracting cultural venues, faulting the administration and City Council for failing to bring more industry and jobs to the city.

"The mayor has done nice things, bringing theater and shows, but a lot of us people can't afford to do that," said Beatrice Thomas, a voter from Clydesdale Drive. "I feel we need a change. If we vote for [Marchetti], we're just getting more of the same thing."

Marchetti supporters, however, lauded him for being forward-thinking and focused on the city's future. They said they don't think Bianchi is progressive enough and is stuck in an industrial mindset with regard to the city's future.

Bianchi is "more of the same old, same old," said Mary Hayes of Bartlett Avenue. She said she thinks Bianchi is too satisfied with status quo. "[Ruberto's] work downtown has created jobs by giving people a reason to come downtown."

Upon winning, however, Bianchi said questions about his support for Pittsfield's downtown district and cultural attractions were part of a campaign smear tactic.

Still, he said his emphasis would not be the continued development of a downtown cultural district.

"I do appreciate what we have and I do appreciate the efforts of the mayor to enrich our cultural venues here in the city, and I pledge that I will enhance them while not hurting the rest of the community."

But he added: "I share your vision for expanding economic development to each and every neighborhood, not just the downtown."

Second chance win ...

Mayor's race:

Daniel L. Bianchi 6,144 winner

Peter M. Marchetti 6,038

Bianchi's victory on Tuesday comes two years after he lost by 207 votes to out-going Mayor James M. Ruberto, whom didn't seek re-election.


View the results here:

PITTSFIELD Unofficial Results