Four Democrats to face off Tuesday in 1st Berkshire District primary


NORTH ADAMS — The slate of Democrats seeking to fill the seat of former state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi will be pared from four to one this week.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Republican candidate Christine Canning in the Nov. 7 special election to serve out the remainder of Cariddi's term as 1st Berkshire District representative, which expires at the end of 2018. Cariddi died in June.

The 1st Berkshire District.covers the towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams and Williamstown. The candidates are John Barrett, Lisa Blackmer, Stephanie Bosley and Kevin Towle.

John Barrett III

Barrett has touted his experience both as mayor of North Adams for nearly 30 years and as the former executive director of BerkshireWorks throughout his campaign.

Barrett has said he would like to see improved workforce training programs to spur economic development. He's also thrown his support behind the proposed developments at the Greylock Glen in Adams.

The candidate also has said throughout the campaign that he would like to see the state address the Chapter 70 funding formula, which determines how much aid school districts receive, arguing that the current formula disproportionately harms smaller districts like those in the 1st Berkshire District.

Barrett also has advocated for decreasing the amount of sales tax revenue that is diverted to the The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, arguing that more of it should be kept locally to help fund transportation.

Lisa Blackmer

Blackmer's campaign platform is influenced by her five terms as a city councilor in North Adams, and her experience as a municipal employee and former president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Blackmer supports increases in unrestricted state aid to cities and towns, which has not recovered since the recession hit in 2008. She's also expressed support for fully funding the commonwealth's payment in lieu of taxes program, which benefits cities and towns in which the state owns land.

For economic development, Blackmer has cited a need for expanded workforce development programs in the area.

She also supports improved transportation, arguing that the Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority needs the flexibility and resources to meet the needs of local residents. Blackmer also has advocated for high-speed rail between the Berkshires and Boston.

The candidate also has advocated for the expansion of broadband internet access.

Stephanie Bosley

Stephanie Bosley has leaned not only on her father's experience as the district's representative but her own education and background in the nonprofit sector.

Bosley has advocated for a three-tiered funding formula for school districts that would account differently for urban, suburban and rural schools on the premise that rural schools like those in the 1st Berkshire district won't compete with urban schools.

Bosley has also called for increased funding for adult basic education and skills training to boost the local workforce.

To support the cultural economy, Bosley has said she will work to increase funding to the Cultural Facilities Fund, alluding to the benefits it could provide to the Mohawk Theater in North Adams and the Greylock Glen project in Adams.

Kevin Towle

Towle has outlined a policy vision that stems from his nearly one year working as a legislative aide to Cariddi prior to her death.

Towle proposes providing four years of free tuition at public schools in Massachusetts for those whose families earn less than $250,000 per year, and that this cost be offset with tax revenue generated by recreational marijuana.

In the K-12 system, Towle has advocated for rural sparsity aid. Hec has said he will propose a tax credit for early childhood education and work to provide financial assistance to schools that expand their early education programs.

Towle also plans to support legislation, filed when he worked for Cariddi, that would provide financial assistance to first-time homebuyers who recently graduated from Williams College or from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

He also wants to provide tax incentives to companies that move to Western Massachusetts and create at least 50 jobs.

Towle supports enacting a single-payer health care system and increasing funding for regional transportation authorities.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter


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