PITTSFIELD -- Two Democratic candidates in the 3rd Berkshire District special election have put their careers on hold to campaign for the state representative seat vacated by Christopher Speranzo last month.
On Monday, Tricia Farley-Bouvier announced she has resigned, effective immediately, as Pittsfield’s acting director of administration, a mayor’s-office position at City Hall.
Farley-Bouvier, 46, a former city councilor, has worked for Mayor James M. Ruberto since March 2010. She said her decision to leave City Hall was based, in part, on the short two-month election cycle.
The special election is set for Oct. 18; the primary is Sept. 20.
"I didn’t want the appearance of a conflict of interest," Farley-Bouvier said. "And with this being a lightning campaign, I need to devote my energy to running for 3rd Berkshire."
Meanwhile, Ryan Scago said he will forgo the fall semester at Albany Law School to devote more time to the primary and hopefully the special election.
Scago, 25, has completed two years of the four-year law program and works part time at Soldier On, the privately operated veterans home in Pittsfield.
"In this race you have to work twice as hard in a shorter period of time," he said.
Scago, Farley-Bouvier and Ward 2 City Councilor Peter White are seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary. White said he will continue to serve on the council while campaigning for the Statehouse, but he’s found some voters unaware of his dual political role.
"I’ll have to try and separate the two for a while," he said.
The Democratic primary winner will advance to a likely four-way contest in October against Republican Mark Jester, Green-Rainbow Party candidate Mark C. Miller, and independent candidate Patricia "Pam" Malumphy.
The special-election winner will succeed Speranzo, who resigned as Pittsfield’s state representative July 13 to become the new clerk magistrate of Central Berkshire District Court.
So far, Malumphy and White have given state elections officials the necessary 150 verified signatures of registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. Farley-Bouvier, Scago and Miller say they expect to become certified candidates this week. The deadline to file nomination papers with the Secretary of State is Aug. 9.
Jester, the only declared Republican candidate, will have to secure the GOP nomination by running as a write-in candidate in the primary, city election officials said. The local Realtor was unable to take out election papers because he needed to be a registered Republican by May 17. He changed his party affiliation in June, less than the 90-day requirement before a state election.
Jester said he is undaunted by the political red tape.
"No big deal," he said, "It’s more like a fly in the ointment of my campaign."
Voters tend to pay closer attention to political campaigns after the summer months of July and August, but the 3rd Berkshire candidates have found plenty of interest in the special election and the issues surrounding it.
"People are upset with the way representation has been going on the local level," Jester said, referring to Speranzo leaving six months into his two-year term.
"With all the publicity surrounding [Speranzo], people know why I am running," Malumphy said.
As for voters’ priorities, job creation and affordable health insurance are hot topics, just as they were when Speranzo beat Miller in the 3rd Berkshire election last fall.
"Health care costs are on the minds of small-business owners and employees," Scago said.
Miller added: "I’m finding support for single-payer health care, just as I did when I ran in November."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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Who’s running ...
Below are the six declared candidates for the 3rd Berkshire District contest to fill the state representative seat vacated by Christopher Speranzo. The primary is Sept. 20, followed by the special election Oct. 18.
Tricia Farley-Bouvier: former Pittsfield city councilor; resigned Monday from position inside the mayor’s office.
Ryan Scago: law student, part-time employee of Soldier On.
Peter White: Pittsfield city councilor, program coordinator at Brien Center.
Mark Jester: Pittsfield Realtor with Assist-2-Sell discount brokers.
Mark C. Miller: retired Berkshire Eagle editor; lost to Speranzo in 2010 3rd Berkshire race.
Patricia "Pam" Malumphy: former Pittsfield city councilor and mayoral candidate in 2009; currently a consultant for the Berkshire Untied Way.