Moon, Persip win 1st terms on Pittsfield City Council

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PITTSFIELD — Newcomers Helen Moon and Earl Persip III earned seats on the City Council on Tuesday, and incumbents Chris Connell and Kevin Morandi staved off challenges in their respective wards.

Turnout was low amid dreary, chilly weather, as only 23 percent of the city's 27,755 registered voters showed up at the polls — down from about 71 percent during last year's presidential election and 42 percent in the last general election in 2015.

RELATED: Pittsfield Municipal Election Results

In Ward 2, Dina Guiel lost her challenge to Morandi by 44 votes, according to unofficial tallies. She attributed her loss to the low turnout.

"I'm obviously disappointed by the outcome, but the numbers show Ward 2 is ready for change," she said, promising to run again and remain active in the city. "This just shows me how bad I want it next time."

Morandi said he's happy to once again care for the residents in his ward.

"I'm really looking forward to serving again," he said. "They can count on me to do my best for them."

Incumbent City Council President Peter Marchetti was the top vote-getter in the at large races. Persip, a newcomer, joined incumbents Peter White and Melissa Mazzeo to win the other at large seats.

"I am humbled by the support," Marchetti said. "I'm looking at the numbers and am overwhelmed."

Connell defended his seat as Ward 4 councilor by 100 votes against challenger Bill Wright. Incumbent Ward 7 Councilor Tony Simonelli more handily fended off challenger Rhonda Serre.

"I'm very happy. I'm thankful, obviously, to the voters, to the residents of Ward 7," Simonelli said. "They appreciated my hard work and they showed it tonight."

Incumbent Ward 3 Councilor Nick Caccamo also defended his seat, with a strong showing against James Gleason. Moon won her bid for Ward 1 councilor, as did incumbent Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol.

Voters also elected six School Committee members: Dennis L. Powell, Cynthia A. Taylor, William Joseph Cameron, Daniel C. Elias, Katherine L.Yon and Joshua M. Cutler. They all ran unopposed.

Michele M. Cetti, who ran unopposed, will be the new city clerk.

The newly elected officials will be inaugurated at 10 a.m. Jan. 2 in City Council chambers.

At the polls Tuesday, voters said they wanted to see leaders address crime rates and devise new ideas for addressing the city's challenges.

Zach Durso said he'd like to see councilors give more straight answers, and address the lack of infrastructure.

"That's one of the things I did like about Dina," he said of Guiel, who worked on transportation issues in Boston.

Kate Lauzon, chairwoman of the Morningside Neighborhood Initiative, said she hopes the fresh faces will help bring neighborhoods together and tackle drug issues in the city.

"I'm hoping they'll bring some new, out-of-the-box ideas," she said, adding that she thinks current councilors Marchetti and White have been shaking things up instead of staying stagnant. "I think there definitely needs to be some change."

Nycole Gallagher said she voted for Persip because she'd like to see more diversity on the council. Desiree Giardina, who voted for Tony "Mr. Sim" Simonelli, said she'd like to see the council do more to address crime.

"I hope they definitely look at the violence that's going on in Pittsfield," she said, adding that working with youths to keep them busy and fulfilled could help address it.

With all the challenges facing Pittsfield right now, Joe Maffuccio said he voted for experienced incumbents.

Jay Lopez said he'd like to see councilors lower the city's unemployment rate and spend money more efficiently.

"I think the City Council has some work to do after tonight," he said.

Eagle staff writer Patricia LeBoeuf contributed to this report.

Reach Amanda Drane at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter or at 413-496-6296.


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