EARLY ACTION IN CAMPAIGN ’13 DRIPS WITH TORPOR, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE SOME TEA LEAVES TO BE READ … 7 OF 11 CITY COUNCILORS TAKE OUT PAPERS EARLY, INCLUDING CLAIRMONT AND LOTHROP … MARK MILLER WILL RUN AT-LARGE … NICHOLS LOOKS TO GET BACK ON COUNCIL, THIS TIME IN 6 … plus … WANTED: A REVOLUTION!
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, , 2013) — Since nominations papers for municipal offices in Pittsfield’s upcoming elections were made available, there has been what THE PLANET might call, in an oxymoronic way, languorous action.
Here is the list of people who have taken out nomination papers so far:
City Clerk: Linda M. Tyer (86 Ventura Avenue)
Council At Large:
Edward J. Carmel (99 Second Street, Apt. 109)
Barry J. Clairmont (12 Lillybrook Road)
Churchill Cotton (15 Donovan Street)
Mark C. Miller (300 Williams Street)
Ward 1 Councilor
Tammy Ives (62 Sadler Avenue)
Lisa I. Tully (58 Oak Hill Road)
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin J. Morandi (19 South Carolina Avenue)
Ward 3 Councilor Paul J. Capitanio (106 Parkside Avenue)
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher J. Connell (105 Dawes Avenue)
Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan N. Lothrop (18 Willow Lane)
Ward 6 Councilor Joseph C. Nichols (39 Cascade Street)
Alfred E. Barbalunga (32 Brookside Drive)
Daniel C. Elias (201 Mohegan Street)
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As we said, these first two weeks of a long campaign season have exuded torpor. Allow a few observations:
* No one has yet declared for mayor. Dan Bianchi likely is waiting to see who, if anyone, emerges to oppose him. As the incumbent, he can afford to wait a couple of months, if he chooses, and then hit the ground running somewhere after the Fourth of July parade and the Greek Fest in August.
* As we thought, Kevin Sherman announcement that he will not be up for re-election has opened the at-large field, with two newcomers taking out papers early to go along with the incumbents Barry Clairmont and Churchill Cotton. There will likely be several (and perhaps many) more names in the at-large field for the September preliminary election before the filing deadline.
* It’s interesting to note that in Wards 2 through 6 inclusively, the incumbents wanted to get in early, perhaps to scare off any would-be opponents. Chris Yon in Ward 1 and Tony Simonelli in 7 have yet to move. Does this indicate anything more than waiting? It would not surprise THE PLANET to see Yon bow out. She seems to be tiring of being in the same cage as the political animals.
* THE PLANET hopes the school committee race draws plenty of new faces. Thus far, no.
THE PLANET recently solicited a few remarks from Pittsfield city clerk Linda Tyer about the nascent days of Campaign ’13.
We asked her to characterize the action thus far: “So far it’s been quiet in terms of people requesting nomination papers,” Tyer said. “But it’s early. It’s difficult to know at this point what’s motivating or not motivating interest. In my experience it’s more complex than just one or two things. Also, it’s really two separate things, in my opinion.
So what motivates a person to seek elected office, we asked? “Many factors go into a person’s decision,” Tyer said. ” In some cases, it’s dissatisfaction with the current direction of public policy. Sometimes it’s a desire to support the current vision. Other times a person wishes to be engaged in community decision making or has a particular issue that they want to promote. Of course other factors like experience, knowledge, availability, and family support are part of the personal decision to run for office.”
She goes on: “The second question is what activates voters? Voters become more and more energized if there is a robust campaign with many points of view being represented and when all the issues facing the community are thoroughly debated. Candidates’ likeability, persuasiveness, and vision also attract voter attention. This year in particular, we have the potential for a very important ballot question — a new charter — that could inspire heated debate and motivate voter turn-out. Finally, always behind the scenes are the political alliances that have been formed among people who share a common political philosophy or vision or enemy or friend. Political alliances factor into both of the above questions – candidate motivation and voter motivation.”
For those keeping score at home, Pittsfield has 27,897 voters. This number fluctuates almost daily although not by huge swings.
One of Tyer’s statements stands out: “Voters become more and more energized if there is a robust campaign with many points of view being represented and when all the issues facing the community are thoroughly debated.” THE PLANET agrees. Applying this to the marquee office of mayor, all the more reason to hope a legitimate candidate emerges to challenge the incumbent. Although Bianchi has not taken out papers, all indicators point to it being a matter of when and not if. It would be a shame if he does not face legitimate opposition — by that, we mean a challenger or two (or more) who will do more than simply run a protest campaign. A legitimate challenge will be one that puts forth a capable candidate who has enough money and organization to compete against someone who will have plenty of both.
THE PLANET is tired of the usual gaggle of “candidates” who take out papers for mayor, get on the ballot, and do not campaign and don’t raise money. Such candidacies tend to clog campaigns, limit the in-depth discussion of issues, and serve little purpose other than provide 15 minutes of local fame.
We would like to see a candidate who has money, knows how to spend it, can talk on an impromptu basis, has command of the issues, and can light a keg of dynamite during a debate.
Speaking of druthers, we would also like to see many new faces, representing something other than the tired and costly Status Quo philosophy we’ve seen from the incumbents, running for school committee. This is where the action is. The school committee will control between $90 million and $100 million of the city’s budget. That should be sexy enough, and yet, year after year, only the insiders apply. Last time, the race got stood on its head by Terry Kinnas. We hope there are other like him who will step forward for, heaven forbid, actually look out for the taxpayers rather than the Vested Interests.
Is anyone out there?
We need Revolution.
“Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, / And tempted her out of her gloom — / And conquered her scruples and gloom; / And we passed to the end of the vista, / But were stopped by the door of a tomb — / By the door of a legended tomb; / And I said, “What is written, sweet sister, / On the door of this legended tomb?” / She replied, “Ulalume! Ulalume! / Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!” — Edgar Allan Poe, from “Ulalume — A Ballad”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.