Friday September 7, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A political novice has overcome first-time campaign jitters and two opponents with better name recognition to become the next Middle Berkshire District register of deeds.

By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, Patsy Harris defeated Jody L. Phillips and Scott M. Pignatelli to capture the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's state primary election. Barring the emergence of a write-in candidate, Harris has essentially won the register of deeds race as she has no opposition in the November election.

The Middle Berkshire District represents Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Rich mond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington.

Harris swept 13 of Pittsfield's 14 precincts and all 11 towns.

The final tally was Harris 6,691 votes, Phillips 2,446 and Pignatelli 1,832. Nearly 25 percent of voters cast ballots in the district.

"Unbelievable; I didn't think I would win by that much," Harris said during her victory celebration at the American legion Post 68 on Wendell Avenue.

Harris' opponents were also stunned by their margin of defeat.

"I can't put my finger on it, because I had a very good campaign team," Phillips said. "I respect the decision of the voters."

"My biggest disappointment was Lenox, it was a huge wake-up call for me," said Pignatelli. Harris defeated Pignatelli in his hometown of Lenox 646 to 496, with Phillips garnering 57 votes.

Despite 11 years experience working in the registry's Pittsfield office, Harris realized the need to combat the political savvy of Phillips and Pignatelli. Phillips was Pittsfield City Clerk for 10 years, an elected position. Pignatelli comes from a politically connected family: His father was former county commissioner and Lenox Selectmen John J. Pignatelli and his brother, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, is currently the state representative in the 4th Berkshire District.

"I knew I had the ability to do the job, but I initially was mistaken that would be enough," Harris said during her victory celebration Tuesday night.

"I knew I had to get out the vote and that's when I had to be political," she added. "I don't like playing those games."

Pignatelli, who has worked behind the scenes of several campaigns, praised Harris' first foray into the political arena.

"I want to credit her for running a solid campaign," he said. "As a political novice, she did all the right things and got her message out to the voters."

Harris will remain an assistant register under outgoing Middle Berkshire District Register of Deeds, Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., until she's sworn in has his successor on Jan. 1.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.