Edward James Carmel announces run for at-large Pittsfield City Council seat

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PITTSFIELD — A representative who knows what life on the streets is like.

That's what Edward James Carmel plans to bring to City Council.

"The group needs someone like myself, who has been homeless and who has a good sense of what goes on in this city 24 hours a day," he said.

The 61-year-old political newcomer is running at large. He is among 10 people who have taken out nomination papers for the city's four at large seats, three of whom are seeking re-election.

Carmel, who lives on Columbus Avenue, said he was homeless for two years starting in 2009.

"I have everything I need now because I worked for it," he said.

He said he would press for increased enforcement of landlord-tenant agreements and opportunities for youth programs such as sports and reading.

"I want to see a place where these kids can develop. We have super kids who are super sports-oriented in this city," he said.

Carmel is troubled by having witnessed a number of drug dealers squatting in city apartments, which he said were rented by others.

"I need other people next to me to work with the Housing Authority and Health Department to eradicate these people," he said.

He said he would also work with state legislators to secure money to build a "multimillion-dollar stadium" in the city.

"Wahconah Park should be in the river as far as I am concerned," he said. "It is old-fashioned and out of date."

The father of five has been a city resident for 30 years. He grew up in Hinsdale and attended Wahconah and Taconic high schools.

Prior to retiring, Carmel worked in construction and a myriad of positions.

"I've worked every job from milking cows to a crosswalk guard," he said. "My experiences in between are insurmountable."

Brenda Ovitt, his fiancee, will serve as his campaign manager. He said the two are working on organizing an event at a local coffee house.

He plans to campaign door to door to help residents learn about his platform.

Nomination papers are due July 24; the date to withdraw is Aug. 9. Eight or more qualified candidates for at large seats would result in a preliminary election in September.

Other at-large candidates thus far are Alexander Blumin, Craig C. Gaetani, Bob Heck, Peter M. Marchetti, incumbent, Melissa Mazzeo, incumbent, Auron C. Stark, Peter T. White, incumbent, and Earl G. Persip III. Perspective candidate Ty Allan Jackson dropped out of the race last week. At-large councilor Kathleen A. Amuso is not seeking re-election.

Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo

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