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Mayoral candidates in Pittsfield weigh in on public safety, bike lanes, diversity

Pittsfield City Hall in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Pittsfield City Hall in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

At a mayoral debate in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, this week, topics ranged from police misconduct to controversial bike lanes to efforts to support diversity in city government.

One question put to the three candidates was whether they consider Pittsfield safe.

All three said, "Yes."

But Karen Kalinowsky a city councilor and retired police officer, added that some residents feel at risk.

"When people are getting out of their cars and someone comes and approaches them, either wanting their car or their money, they don't feel safe," she said. "This has happened at Big Y. This has happened in the Walmart plaza."

City Council President Peter Marchetti, who also works as a banker, said more action is needed to address panhandlers and drug dealers. He also called for events that bring police and residents together.

"You hear from folks back in the day. They all knew who their beat officer was. They had a relationship with their beat officer," Marchetti said. "We need to go back to those days of creating that environment."

Another candidate, John Krol, owns a marketing firm in Pittsfield and served as a city councilor from 2010 until 2019. He also wants police walking more in neighborhoods.

"Boots on the ground. Having our officers get out of their cruisers more often is a good thing," Krol said. "And absolutely there are neighborhoods that are not as safe."

Krol said the city needs to increase communication with residents who have safety concerns.

The last day to register to vote is Saturday, Sept. 9, when city hall will be open until 5 p.m. The preliminary election will be held Sept. 19.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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