Thursday September 6, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The three candidates for Middle Berkshire register of deeds spent the final day before today's election concentrating on the little things that they hope will put them over the top.

Patricia "Patsy" Harris of Hinsdale spent Wednesday returning phone calls and answering emails, while Jody L. Phillips of Pittsfield checked the list of volunteers who will hold her campaign signs at various polling places throughout the district. Scott Pignatelli of Lenox said that he was "pounding the phones."

"Just the final push," Pignatelli said. "We've been doing standouts [volunteers holding signs] for the last six consecutive nights at different locations throughout the district."

Harris, Phillips and Pig natelli are the three Dem ocratic Party candidates vying for a six-year term to succeed Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who is vacating the office at the Middle Berkshire Registry to run for Congress.

With no declared Repub lican candidate, the winner of today's primary will presumably sail through the general election on Nov. 6, barring a write-in campaign. The Middle Berkshire District includes the city of Pittsfield and 11 surrounding towns: Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stock bridge, Tyr ingham and Washington.

Turnouts for primary elections in the Berkshires are traditionally low, but all three candidates hope a decent percentage of the electorate decides to participate.

"I'm hopeful that it will be 25 or 26 percent," said Phillips, a former Pittsfield city clerk. "Generally, in a primary it's 18 to 20 percent. We're trying to get the message out that this is it for us really. The winner will go on to the general election alone.

"I think more people realize this than when we started," she said. "But there's still a lot of people who aren't aware of that being the case."

Pignatelli, who owns an electrical contracting business and is a member of the board of assessors in the town of Lenox, wasn't as optimistic as Phillips.

"It's going to be low," he said. "I was hoping that there would be more of a buzz going on with the congressional race, but that seems to have almost fallen [off]. My guess is we'd be lucky to have a 20 to 22 percent turnout.

"That's what makes this race scary," he said. "The higher the turnout, the better off I'm going to be."

"I do not believe a small turnout will help any of the candidates," Harris said. "We have all been encouraging people to please get out and vote. It is so important."

In a written statement, retired longtime Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Mary K. O'Brien re-emphasized her endorsement of Harris on Wednesday.

"Base your vote on qualification for the office," wrote O'Brien, who also endorsed Harris in a letter to The Eagle on Aug. 5.

Pignatelli on Tuesday won the backing of the top local legislator, state Sen. Benjamin Downing.