Pittsfield mayoral candidate Donna M. Walto gets arrested

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Tuesday September 6, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Mayoral candidate Donna M. Walto was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct Sunday night after she allegedly shouted an expletive at and pushed a city police officer.

According to Pittsfield Police Department Sgt. Matthew Hill, officers responded to Walto's Elmview Terrace residence around 11:30 p.m. after she called to report vandalism to her business' van, which she keeps parked in her driveway.

Hill said that while the responding officer was trying to investigate the vandalism, Walto insisted the officer give her a ride to an unspecified location.

Police said Walto, 62, smelled of alcohol and appeared unsteady on her feet.

Hill said when the officer offered to call her a taxi, she became upset and repeatedly told the officer she was running for mayor and "needed to be driven somewhere."

Walto also repeatedly insisted that the officer contact sitting Mayor James M. Ruberto and Police Chief Michael Wynn. The officer declined to oblige Walto's request, said Hill.

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After the officer again offered to call Walto a taxi, she yelled an expletive at him and shoved him, at which point the officer placed Walto under arrest and transported her to the police station, said Hill.

Contacted on Monday, Walto declined to discuss the allegations.

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"No comment right now," she said. "You can talk to my attorney."

Asked for her lawyer's name and phone number, she responded, "not right now," and hung up.

Walto was released shortly after her arrest on personal recognizance pending a court appearance today.

Walto is the owner of Berkshire BackRoad Tour Co., which takes visitors around the county on a two-hour tour that includes historical narration.

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The passenger van she uses to give the tours was the target of the apparent vandalism. On Monday, it appeared that a smily face and a heart had been painted on the rear windows.

This year's election marks Walto's third attempt to become mayor.

Walto lost her bids decisively in 2005 and 2007.

This year though, Walto has said Ruberto's decision not to run again puts her on equal footing with the other candidates.

The preliminary election is scheduled for Sept. 27.

To reach Ned Oliver:
(413) 496-6240


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