Our Opinion: Eagle endorsements for Pittsfield City Council
While the field of candidates for four Pittsfield City Council at-large positions is disappointingly small, that disappointment is tempered by the number of promising newcomers who entered the race. A combination of progressive veterans and fresh faces on the City Council will benefit the city in what promises to be a difficult two years ahead.
Pittsfield is up against its tax levy limit and faces knotty problems involving education, crime and the economy. It's a difficult challenge to be in government office when times are tough. The Eagle believes there is a group of incumbents and new candidates who are up for that challenge.
Peter Marchetti has been a calm voice of reason in Pittsfield politics. When he ran for City Council president, he pledged to change the dynamic of meetings, and the divisiveness that stalled the Council has given way to thoughtful debate and respectful disagreement. Ideally he will win re-election to the City Council and be chosen president for another two years.
Mr. Marchetti also brings financial expertise to the City Council and his long involvement in community activities, most notably as chairman of the July 4 parade committee, attest to his dedication to the city.
Peter White became involved in Ward 2 and citywide causes and organizations at a young age and seemed destined to serve on the City Council. He has not disappointed, providing positive, pragmatic input. Mr. White doesn't speak often at City Council meetings but when he does he is to the point and worth heeding.
Challenger Earl Persip III is a familiar face in Pittsfield. The director of operations for the Berkshire Family YMCA, where he has worked for 22 years, Mr. Persip knows first-hand the difficulties that face city youth, the promise they bring to a city, and the need for city government to help their parents thrive and maintain their roots in the city.
Mr. Persip's own roots are in the WestSide, which will benefit from his advocacy. The son of an Italian mother and an African-American father, Mr. Persip would bring welcome ethnic diversity to the City Council.
Incumbent Melissa Mazzeo is an experienced city councilor who is diligent about exploring the details of budgets and City Hall proposals. Challenger Edward James Carmel has shown enthusiasm as well as passion to represent struggling members of the community. Craig Gaetani promises to be a voice for the overburdened taxpayers of the city.
The Eagle sees three candidates as being best prepared to serve Pittsfield in the two years ahead and endorses incumbents Peter Marchetti and Peter White and challenger Earl Persip III as at-large city councilors.
Incumbents Donna Todd Rivers in Ward 5 and John Krol in Ward 6 do not have challengers this year. In Ward 1, Michael Cirullo has abandoned his candidacy although he will remain on the ballot against Helen Moon.
The 34-year-old Ms. Moon, a native of South Korea, would bring youth and diversity to the City Council. A resident of Longmeadow who came to Pittsfield to study to be a nurse and works as a registered nurse at Fairview Hospital, she combines a newcomer's perspective with an affection for the city she resides in. She brought a refreshing optimism to the campaign. The Eagle endorses Helen Moon in Ward 1.
The Ward 2 race pits incumbent Kevin Morandi against Dina Guiel. Mr. Morandi has been an effective ward councilor, meeting with neighborhood organizations and addressing day-to-day problems. From a citywide perspective, he speaks out against what he feels is an unreasonable burden on taxpayers but hasn't offered a lot in the way of ideas to solve problems that lead to tax hikes.
The 32-year-old Ms. Guiel, a native of West Springfield, has impressed with her positive tone and enthusiasm. Her interest in the Berkshires began when she earned a degree in sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the youth mentoring programs she began in Holyoke and Sprngfield suggest she will propose creative ways that Pittsfield can prepare its young people for successful careers that will ideally keep them in the city.
Transportation shortcomings are an issue in the ward and city, and Ms. Guiel's experience attacking problems at Boston's MBTA while she was earning her masters in public administration and policy at Northeastern University would enable her to help the city confront its own transportation issues. Ms. Guiel's resume is impressive, as was her campaign. The Eagle endorses Dina Guiel in Ward 2.
Ward 3 City Councilor Nicholas Caccamo is another young resident who got involved in politics and has impressed as a city councilor. Mr. Caccamo has been responsive on typical ward issues like filling potholes and addressing drainage issues while demonstrating an understanding of broader city issues while pursuing solutions to difficult problems.
Challenger James Gleason promises to speak up for the taxpayers and residents, including the disabled, he argues have been overlooked by the city. By he hasn't made the case for voting out a proven incumbent. The Eagle endorses Nicholas Caccamo for re-election in Ward 3.
Ward 4 City Councilor Chris Connell has been a tough critic on financial issues, digging into the details of how the city conducts its business. He was a leader in the effort to institute tax title auctions to bring in revenue and researched the implications of the proposed Eversource rate hike on the city.
Issues of speeding and placement of stop signs and signals are present in every ward, perhaps none more than Ward 4. Mr. Connell has worked hard on these issues, and his challenger, William Wright, promises to do better.
Mr. Wright brings an engaging approach and experience in small business development to the campaign. He maintains that the city must do a better job of selling itself to businesses. He has impressed, but Mr. Connell is a solid, experienced city councilor and The Eagle endorses him in Ward 4. Should Mr. Wright not be elected we encourage him to stay involved in city politics, which also goes for the other newcomers in this year's race.
Like Ward 4, Ward 7 has two good candidates in incumbent Anthony Simonelli and challenger Rhonda Serre. Mr. Simonelli has been strong on nuts-and-bolts ward issues, including getting the city to maintain unaccepted streets, a subject of keen interest in Ward 7. A veteran educator, he brings experience to that critical topic and is not afraid to ask tough but necessary questions on city schools.
Ms. Serre brings experience in government, a background in business development in the state, and long involvement in the community. She has run a positive campaign emphasizing communication and Pittsfield's need to better market its many selling points. As is the case in Ward 4, she is running against an incumbent who can make a strong case for re-election. The Eagle endorses Anthony Simonelli in Ward 7.
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