Peter Marchetti is one of the most enduring politicians in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is currently running for his eighth non-consecutive term on city council. The general representative is also the president for three terms of the body of 11 members.
In its last race in 2019, it garnered nearly 8,500 votes out of a field of eight nomadic candidates, or more than 70% of the votes cast. It was the most dominant performance in a competitive race, with nearly 800 votes separating it from second. That same year, Mayor Linda Tyer received approximately 6,200 votes in her candidacy for re-election. Marchetti was also the top vote winner in previous elections.
As Pittsfield continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses how to spend more than $ 32 million in federal relief from the American Rescue Plan Act, Marchetti says he’s the right person to continue to leading city council as voters prepare for November 2sd election. Marchetti spoke with WAMC.
MARCHETTI: Right now, on the way to Pittsfield, we need experience and leadership. And after everything we’ve been through in the past 18 months, which has been possibly the toughest time for an elected official, we’ve been able to keep municipal government open and up and running while continuing to move forward. And I ask constituents to give me the opportunity to turn Pittsfield around the corner and make the improvements we can, now that we know we’ve been through much of the COVID pandemic and are getting now federal funds to move forward.
WAMC: So you say that your experience and your management capacity will help the city to spend this money better?
From your current perspective, from what you’ve heard from the community, what exactly do you think is the solution to this? What are you going to offer the city and the voters to put the money to use?
Well I think there are a couple of different things that it should be used for. One is to close the lost income gap that we know is something we can do. I wouldn’t start by saying exactly what myself. I want to see the results of the poll which is due out shortly as well as the results of the four community meetings that the administration has held to get a better idea of what the public thinks. I mean, for my part, this is where we could spend the money in terms of infrastructure and housing would be the most important places, as well as to make sure that we can give all the help to the companies whose we need.
Whatever happens in this election, we’re going to see a significant turnover with the departure of some long-time board members. What does it mean for the body to see replaced certain seats which, for 10 years, have been occupied by certain personalities?
Well I think it opens up new opportunities and new voices. I also think it goes back to something I did two years ago that I was criticized for a lot, and that was trying to prepare the next generation of leaders by changing assignments and committee chairs. If a board chair allows only those with seniority to fill the roles of committee chairs and vice-chairs, then when the opportunity arises for those long-term members to leave, you don’t have to. does no training and no bench training, if you will, to give people the experience they need to take them to the next level.
If you’re re-elected, Pete, do you plan to run for president again?
If I am re-elected, I will run for president of the board.
As a new term dawns, there are always ways to refine or better chart what a year will look like. There have been conversations during this term about the length of meetings, the content of the meetings, how the discussions are conducted. On the eve of a new term with new faces, at this point, if you return to this position you currently hold, would you try to establish new guidelines on how the board works for a new mandate?
Well I think I would continue with what we just did recently. I think there are people who believe that everything should be done at a city council meeting, and we have a committee structure for a purpose. I also think there are some petitions that don’t really need to be debated, and can either be referred to a subcommittee where they get a lot of debate and solutions or if we are waiting for a response from a manager, we could send it and get the reply. And I think too many times we want to debate and then send and then debate, then send, then debate. So I think there is an opportunity to rationalize without cutting off the opportunity for people to participate in the debate. And some petitions, where “I want to stop a sign” on a stop sign is a bad example, but “I want a giving way sign here. »Does this have to go to [the traffic subcommittee]? Or is it something that the utilities commissioner can decide for himself and put in place? So, are we spending time in meetings, doing things that a simple email or phone request might solve? And we have to look at it and see. And I understand that in some cases people feel like they are not being listened to so they resort to petitions and so what can I do to create a better environment there so that people have feel like they’re getting the answers and we don’t clutter our agenda with issues that could be resolved with a phone call or email.
Now, the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of federal relief funds are the obvious big things to come in 2022. Beyond that, what do you think will be the next big conversation that the board will need? to undertake in the coming year?
Well I still think an unpopular conversation will be how are we going to handle the garbage collection. I think we have several different options. And I think in some cases one or two of them is the way to go, but they have to be married together for them to fit in properly. I also think it’s a great time to use some federal funding if we can, is that we’ve seen a lot of homeowners move to the Berkshires or move to the Berkshires because they thought it was. a safer place. And I think the world has changed, and we have to be prepared to be able to say that you can work remotely from the Berkshires or from Pittsfield and kind of help build our tax base.
Now there is relatively little competition for seats in general. At this point, do you lose a lot of sleep in the weeks leading up to the election? Or do you feel a little confident to get back into your body?
I would tell you that I have learned the hard way that when you are overconfident and take things for granted, you lose. And I think my record shows it. So we didn’t change anything about what we would do during our campaign. Our signs were posted on Labor Day weekend as they normally would, and we’re starting our lit door-to-door and reaching out to voters to make sure they understand I want to be re-elected. I’m not going to sit idly by and take it for granted and say that, you know, maybe there’s not enough competition or, you know, I’m already a winner. I hear people say all the time, “I don’t know why you’re worried, you’re crazy. And this is the election, from past experience, where I found myself on the losing side on election night. So I will not take anything for granted and will work over the coming weeks to ask voters to please re-elect me.