PITTSFIELD -- With no incumbent running, the Ward 3 City Council race is wide open, and four candidates have qualified for the Sept. 24 preliminary election ballot.
Jeffrey Germann of Longview Terrace, Thomas Wells Jr. of Willard Place, Nicholas Caccamo of Longview Terrace, and Richard Latura of Dorchester Avenue are vying for two finalist spots on the Nov. 5 city ballot.
Profiles of the candidates follow:
Richard Latura said his principal objective in running is "to make my neighborhood safe, and Ward 3 is my neighborhood. If we make our neighborhood safe, then we can make the city safe."
Latura, 48, is a certified locksmith and safe technician who has worked for 23 years at J & J Lock of Tyler Street. He's a veteran and a member of the Italian American Club and has served on the organization's board.
Latura said addressing smaller incidents like speeding, skateboarding at 3 a.m. that wakes up the neighborhood; "kids hanging around," drug use and vandalism could help combat crime in general. "These are not small matters," he said.
"We have to attack these separately," he said. "Then we can begin to take back the city."
Pittsfield "needs more police," Latura said of his budget priorities. "We need firefighters; we are short firefighters. Unfortunately, we can't seem to fund that, and we must deal with it."
He added, "I like the arts, but not at the cost of public safety."
Nicholas Caccamo is a data specialist and test administrator at Pittsfield High School who previously worked as a substitute teacher in the school system. He's been active in city politics and has experience in campaigning, having run for mayor in 2009 and for councilor at large in 2011. He also has been a member of the city's Green Commission since 2010.
Caccamo, 27, said, "The issues I'm interested in are those of local government. We need people to do the committee work and communicate the needs of the people and make sound decisions."
He added that "the primary role of any ward councilor is to make sure [his or her ward] gets a fair share of services."
Among issues Caccamo said he's interested in are plans to establish bicycle lanes on city streets and establishment of a "well-balanced" ordinance to regulate food trucks.
Thomas Wells Jr.
Thomas Wells Jr., 43, said that in running for the council, "My key point is looking at issues from a different angle. I've been an entrepreneur most of my life."
Wells has owned a contracting business, Tom Wells General Contracting, for many years and owns Locks & More on Elm Street.
He also has served on the Carpentry Advisory Board for the vocational education program at Taconic High School and has been a volunteer for programs for children.
"I'd like to keep my eye on things," Wells said. "[The city] seems to be going in a positive direction for the past couple of years. I'd like to help preserve that. We need to keep services going and keep taxes down."
He added, "I have lived in my neighborhood since I was 4 and I've seen changes, both good and bad. I'd like to focus on making sure more of those are good changes."
Wells said he would like to look at "how the School Department spends money. I would like to see if it is spent as efficiently as possible."
The candidate said it seems "there are a lot of school buildings we have held on to," and some, like the Hibbard School building, appear neglected. Wells said selling it to a residential developer might be preferable for the city to owning it.
Concerning the proposed new city charter, which will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, Wells said he likes the provision that would allow payment for School Committee members, which he said would attract the best candidates, but has doubts the mayor's term should be four years if the council terms are to remain at two years.
Jeffrey Germann said he would like to focus on his ward as a councilor, and on crime, street work, outreach to residents and other issues.
"I'm basically not happy about the way things are," Germann, 40, said of his reasons for running. "I think some people are becoming frustrated. It's more that a lot feel they have been forgotten about in Ward 3. They're not being represented."
He said, "I think we really need to have a fresh start in the ward. And we need someone to stick up for all the people, not just the ones in their own neighborhood."
Germann also cited vacant or abandoned buildings in many areas of the city as a growing problem. "I think some of those houses with the big X on them should just be torn down," he said. "There is one on Fenn Street."
Some streets in Ward 3 also need attention, Germann said, including Edward Avenue, which he said has a "huge bump that needs fixing" and has been a problem for some time.
In addition, he said, home and business break-ins are an issue "that should be dealt with."
And "there is a lot of partying going on in the fields," he said. "There is one in my direct neighborhood ... Kids are there every weekend in the summer, and so are the police."
Germann, the owner of New England AutoGlass, is a lifelong resident of the city.
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