This story has been updated.
LENOX — Lenox Democrat William “Smitty” Pignatelli was reelected Tuesday with more than 90 percent of the vote to send him back to his seat in the state Legislature for an 11th consecutive term.
Pignatelli, 63, defeated Green-Rainbow party candidate Michael Lavery of Becket by wide margins in the 10 Berkshire towns he represents. Pignatelli had a total of 13,553 votes at 90.4 percent, with 79 percent of votes counted as of 5:06 a.m. Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.
Lavery pulled in a total of 1,433 votes, or 9.6 percent.
In Lenox, Pignatelli's hometown, he defeated Lavery 2,153-163. And in Becket, where Lavery is a Select Board member, Pignatelli won 578-139.
Lavery, who ran on the party's broader far-left ideological platform, would have had to overcome Pignatelli’s experience and practical sensibilities.
Pignatelli has held the seat since 2003. His constituency changed this year by redistricting to gain Dalton and drop several towns outside the county – his is now the 3rd Berkshire District.
He appears to be maintaining voter trust with a no-nonsense style that reflects the concerns of a varied demographic of constituents in a rural district where interests range from farming to tourism.
Pignatelli, reached by telephone at home Tuesday night, says he's been hands-on.
“Doing the day-to-day stuff that is very important to people while working on the bigger stuff,” he said of why his constituents continue to support him. “I answer my own phone and I answer my own emails. Even after all these years.”
Lavery, 52, who works at General Dynamics Mission Systems, said the election results show "there's some interest" among voters in him and his platform.
"It was a good first showing against a 20-year incumbent," he said.
He'll likely be back for another shot at the seat in two years, and said this first bid was a way to make the public familiar with his name. He also wanted gauge interest in his platform.
"I just wanted to get the message out," Lavery said.
Lavery positioned himself as a new-blood, farther-left candidate whose agenda includes radical climate change policies, as well as prison and tax reform.
Pignatelli has been troubleshooting the weak spots in a rural Berkshires economy and infrastructure – things like spotty cellphone signals, anemic public transportation and a health care crisis in the county due to low Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Pignatelli says he’s a fan of the creative solution to a host of Berkshire problems.
He told The Eagle that he’d like to push for towns to create funds to pay down the school debt of dentists who commit to setting up shop in the Berkshires, for instance.
Trains are another area where Pignatelli continues to advocate for the oft-forgotten western part of the state. He’s been relentless in his push to include Pittsfield in east-west rail from Boston through Springfield.
Pignatelli doesn't like political games, nor does he like to see "public service being more about self service" – something he says is a growing leadership trend. It is in this landscape that "wedge issues" are used by politicians to divide voters and secure power.
"I tell my staff every week that if we do our jobs, that the next election will take care of itself," he said.