Mayor Bianchi appears poised to have unopposed run to second term
PITTSFIELD -- Barring the emergence of an eleventh-hour challenger, Daniel L. Bianchi appears headed to a second, two-year term as mayor.
Bianchi, who during the past two election cycles narrowly lost a mayoral contest by 200 votes then won by 106 votes, learned Friday that in all likelihood he'll be running unopposed for re-election. The only other person to have taken out nomination papers for the corner office -- North Street business owner Gerald Ely -- had informed the city clerk's office he wouldn't be running.
The deadline for filing nomination papers -- with the requisite 300 signatures from registered city voters -- is Tuesday at 5 p.m.
If he remains unopposed, Bianchi said he'd credit that in part to the fact that some of his former political opponents have watched him in office and know him better.
"The feedback I've gotten is great," Bianchi said Friday. "A lot of people who weren't with me in the past have commented that I'm doing a good job."
In political campaigns, he said, "You're often defined by your opponents. But people have had an opportunity to get to know me as a person and as a mayor, and they have a certain satisfaction with me as a person and as a mayor."
Without the burden of running for re-election, Bianchi said he'd like to focus on fostering a healthy debate on important issues facing Pittsfield. Those include the development of the William Stanley Business Park, improvement of vocational education programs, and securing a new or renovated Taconic High School.
"I would also like to focus on a strong public discussion relative to the [city] charter revision," he said.
A vote on the revised Pittsfield city charter -- the document that defines city government and how it operates -- is expected to be on the Nov. 5 ballot. The charter revision was approved by a committee, the City Council and Bianchi; it is now is being reviewed in the Legislature.
Being mayor for nearly two years, Bianchi added, has only reinforced his desire to use his authority "to be a voice for people who might not have one" and to meet with residents of the city and others at the many public events he attends as mayor.
"I was out at four events in one day recently," he said. "They were all good events, things citizens appreciate you being a part of -- and I am happy to do those things."
Bianchi was elected mayor in 2011 after a long career in city politics, dating back to his role as treasurer and finance director under former Mayor Anne Everest Wojtkowski (1987-91). He also served as Ward 6 councilor for 10 years.
Ward councilor races
Other than Ely notifying the clerk he would not run for mayor, Friday saw Ward 6 Councilor John Krol stop by to pick up nomination papers for another term. Krol, reached later by telephone, said he had made a good start on acquiring the required 50 signatures for a ward seat.
Former Ward 7 Councilor Joseph Nichols will be Krol's opponent, having submitted the required signatures to run in Ward 6.
In other races, Ward 1 Councilor Christine Yon faces Tammy Ives of Sadler Avenue and Lisa Tully of Oak Hill Road. All three have submitted the required 50 signatures.
In Ward 3, where incumbent Paul Capitanio decided against running for re-election, six potential candidates have emerged. As of Friday afternoon, Nicholas Caccamo of Longview Terrace, a mayoral candidate in 2009, and Jeffrey Germann, also of Longview Terrace, have submitted the required signatures to run. Richard Latura of Dorchester Avenue, Jonathan King of Kenwood Street, Jennifer Lee McGurn of Capri Terrace, and Thomas Wells Jr. of Willard Place have taken nomination papers be not yet returned them.
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli all have returned nomination papers. All remain unopposed.
At large, school committee
The council at large race and the School Committee race for six at large seats have attracted considerable interest and could result in significant change for both boards.
In the at large council race for four seats, potential candidates include incumbents Churchill Cotton, Melissa Mazzeo and Barry Clairmont. Mazzeo and Clairmont have submitted the required 300 signatures, while Cotton was said to be close to that total Friday.
Mark Miller of Williams Street and current School Committee members Kathleen Amuso and James Conant also have submitted papers for council at large. Donna Todd Rivers of Jason Street and Edward Carmel of Second Street had not submitted papers as of Friday.
Like Capitanio, Council President Kevin Sherman, elected at large, is not seeking re-election this year.
With Amuso and Conant leaving posts on the School Committee to run for the council, and committee Chairman Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga not seeking re-election, change on the school committee is already assured. And on Thursday, committee member Terry Kinnas confirmed he would not seek re-election, citing personal reasons.
Potential School Committee candidates for the six seats include incumbents Daniel Elias and Katherine Yon, and challengers Tanya Edwards of Dickinson Avenue, Brandon Mauer of West Housatonic Street, Anthony Riello of Shore Drive, Cynthia A. Taylor of Wendell Avenue, Brittany Lynne Douglas of Center Street, Pamela Farron of Brighton Avenue, and Joshua Cutler of Brookside Drive.
Of those, Elias, Yon and Taylor have submitted the necessary 300 signatures, while Cutler, Douglas, Farron, Mauer, Reillo and Williams had yet to do so Friday.
City Clerk Linda Tyer has submitted the 300 signatures for a spot on the ballot. She remains unopposed.
To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_therrien