PITTSFIELD — Mayor Linda Tyer came out on top Tuesday on the heels of a contentious race for the city's corner office.
She won by 529 votes, according to unofficial tallies from City Hall, and is scheduled for another January inauguration. At 42 percent, turnout was relatively high — some 11,945 people cast votes in the mayoral election, including blanks and write-ins.
[cqembed title="Untitled" content="PGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmZhY2Vib29rLmNvbS9wbHVnaW5zL3ZpZGVvLnBocD9ocmVmPWh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGd3d3LmZhY2Vib29rLmNvbSUyRmJlcmtzaGlyZS5lYWdsZSUyRnZpZGVvcyUyRjI0MDc4Nzk3NDkzMzg5MDAlMkYmc2hvd190ZXh0PTAmd2lkdGg9NTYwIiB3aWR0aD0iNTYwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjMxNSIgc3R5bGU9ImJvcmRlcjpub25lO292ZXJmbG93OmhpZGRlbiIgc2Nyb2xsaW5nPSJubyIgZnJhbWVib3JkZXI9IjAiIGFsbG93VHJhbnNwYXJlbmN5PSJ0cnVlIiBhbGxvd0Z1bGxTY3JlZW49InRydWUiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg=="]Tyer earned 6,176 votes, according to the unofficial tallies, and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo earned 5,647.
Though Tyer trailed in the preliminary election by 290 votes, she took the lead in a heated post-primary race that covered such topics as crime, education and city services. Tyer, first elected in 2015, was the city's first four-year mayor.
"For two elections in a row, our message about building a stronger city resonated in every precinct across this city," she said during her victory speech at the Pittsfield Country Club, which was packed with local politicians and supporters.
"There are people in every corner of this city that came out today and filled in an oval for progress, filled in an oval because they believed and affirmed the work that we've done in the last four years," she said. "And they said yes, yes we want more of what works."
While Tyer's event struck a jubilant tone, heads were shaking and eyes were glistening among the crowd around the corner at Mazzeo's Ristorante.
[cqembed title="Untitled" content="PGlmcmFtZSB3aWR0aD0iNzAwIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjcwMCIgc3JjPSJodHRwczovL2RvY3MuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS9zcHJlYWRzaGVldHMvZC9lLzJQQUNYLTF2VHFYbFdRTnl4OE1yOHJLV1g0OXI5dWZ3Y1pQb2QtM1V5dHJNNXg3Q1Fndy04bGxjTk91d3RYeXBaRXpvYkg0X0ZtR3VtTHM5eG9raU5DL3B1Ymh0bWw/Z2lkPTAmYW1wO3NpbmdsZT10cnVlJmFtcDt3aWRnZXQ9dHJ1ZSZhbXA7aGVhZGVycz1mYWxzZSI+PC9pZnJhbWU+"]During her concession speech, Mazzeo thanked her supporters for their hard work and dedication, even though "this definitely didn't turn out how we wanted."
"We wanted a little bit more transparency. We wanted our phone calls answered," she said. "We wanted to be a community heard."
And while she said she is sorry she won't be able to deliver that — "Tonight, we're going to be upset," she said with glistening eyes — she asked her supporters to reach across the aisle in the days ahead.
"Tomorrow is a whole 'nother day, and tomorrow we have to get back to being Pittsfield," she said.
At Tyer's celebration, the incumbent mayor took a concession call from her opponent. She told supporters that she told Mazzeo she fought a good race, that she sharpened the team and made her work hard for the win, "and you're to be congratulated for that."
"And I heard you, and I heard your supporters and we know that there's more work to do," Tyer said. "So, there we go. We're onward."
At the polls
Fran Lysonski, staffing a Ward 5 table at the Berkshire Athenaeum, has worked the polls for more than 30 years and said Tuesday's turnout stood out.
"This is one of the best turnouts ever," she said about 5 p.m.
Given tension surrounding the race, many voters at the polls said that they weren't comfortable talking about how they voted in the race.
One Ward 4 resident, Denise Billow, said as she left her polling location at Herberg Middle School that "I wanted to vote for Melissa," but in the end, she voted for Tyer.
Billow said she works as a paraprofessional and was tempted to vote for Mazzeo because she felt she would have helped the paraprofessionals get a needed boost in pay and support. But she said "you can't vote for someone just because it's going to make your life better."
"I believe that Melissa's really passionate," she said. "But Tyer has built some bridges and she's done mostly good."
Kevin Farrington, a Ward 5 resident, said he voted for Tyer. He and his wife moved here about five years ago, under former Mayor Dan Bianchi, he said, and they had concerns about the city.
Since then, Farrington said, he has noticed modest improvements.
"We're fairly happy with the direction of the city," he said.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.