Election 2015: Pittsfield and North Adams to elect new municipal cast
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PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield and North Adams voters will go to the polls today to elect a new slate of municipal officials.
Both Berkshire County cities will elect a mayor, city councilors, and school committee members, and Pittsfield also will elect a city clerk.
In the latter race, former Clerk Jody Phillips is unopposed for a new term. She is seeking to replace current Clerk Linda M. Tyer, who is running against incumbent Daniel L. Bianchi in a hotly contested race for mayor.
The winner in the mayor's contest will be the first in the city's history elected to a four-year term, following a government charter change approved by voters in 2013.
Bianchi is seeking a third term as mayor, having defeated former Councilor at large Peter Marchetti in the 2011 election and running unopposed in 2013. He also lost a close election in 2009 to former Mayor James M. Ruberto, who did not run again after serving out the 2010-12 term, his fourth.
Pittsfield voters will select four at large councilors from among seven candidates, six School Committee members from among eight candidates, and decide four ward councilor races. Three ward councilors face no opposition.
North Adams races
For North Adams voters, it could feel like 2009 all over again.
Mayor Richard Alcombright, a three-term incumbent, and challenger John Barrett III will face off for the corner office. The two candidates ran against one another in 2009, but their roles were reversed, as then-challenger Alcombright defeated a 13-term Mayor Barrett.
Twelve candidates are running for nine at-large seats on the North Adams City Council, including eight incumbents and four challengers.
The incumbents are Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, Eric Buddington, Nancy Bullett, Benjamin Lamb, Kate Merrigan, Joshua Moran, and Wayne Wilkinson. The challengers are Ronald Boucher, Robert Moulton Jr., Robert Cardimino and Joseph Gniadek.
For the North Adams School Committee, four candidates, all newcomers, are running for three open seats. They are Karen Bond, Nicholas Fahey, Miles Wheat and Tara Jacobs.
The Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District Committee contest features two incumbents, George Canales and William Diamond, running unopposed with three open seats.
It remains to be seen how many voters these races will draw to the polls. In 2009, more than 5,200 residents cast ballots in what was described as an above-average turnout.
The Board of Registrars has estimated a turnout of about 45 percent, but City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau thinks that it could end up closer to 60 percent, as forecasters call for an unseasonably warm and sunny day.
The at large council race in Pittsfield features Peter Marchetti, seeking a return to the council; former ward councilors Peter White, Joseph Nichols and newcomer Taylor DiSantis challenging incumbent at large councilors Churchill Cotton, Kathleen Amuso and Melissa Mazzeo for the four available seats.
Councilor at large Barry Clairmont did not seek another term.
Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully is challenged by Tammy Ives; Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi faces Michael Merriam; Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli is opposed by Kathy Lloyd, and former Councilor Richard Scapin and Donna Todd Rivers are vying to replace Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, who did not run for re-election.
Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol are unopposed.
In the Sept. 22 preliminary election in North Adams, Barrett came out on top, with 1,240 votes to 974 for Alcombright. Challenger Eric Rudd was eliminated from the Nov. 3 ballot.
Of the city's 8,549 registered voters, 28 percent cast ballots.
In Pittsfield, Tyer finished first in the preliminary election with 2,790 votes to 1,960 for Bianchi. Candidates Craig Gaetani and Donna Walto were eliminated from the Nov. 3 ballot.
Only 18.77 percent of Pittsfield's 27,049 voters cast ballots.
With Tyer in the mayor's race, Assistant City Clerk Malia Windrow-Carlotto, Assistant Clerk for Registration and Elections Michele Cetti and other office staff members will oversee the election process.
Pittsfield will vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today
For the first time in the recent history, the North Adams council voted to extend election hours by an additional two hours in 2015, giving early birds extra time to cast a ballot in the morning. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
North Adams has 8,689 registered voters heading into Tuesday's election, with about 175 new voters registering since the preliminary election. By Monday morning, about 300 absentee ballots had been cast, according to Gomeau.
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