Melissa Mazzeo addresses supporters after conceding the race for mayor.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Linda Tyer was elected on Tuesday to a second four-year term, beating out opponent Melissa Mazzeo by 529 votes out of nearly 12,000 cast.
"Look what we did. For two elections in a row our message about building a stronger city resonated in every precinct across the city," said Tyer to a roomful of cheering supporters at the Country Club of Pittsfield. "I could not be happier to be celebrating with all of you. There are people in every corner of this city who 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, and they said yes, yes, we want more of what works."
Tyer entered the room to applause and cheers as she told the crowd that she'd received a gracious concession call from Mazzeo.
"What I said to the councilor, is you fought a good race, you sharpened our team, you sharpened our vision. You made us work hard, and you're to be congratulated for that," Tyer said. "And I heard you and I heard your supporters, and we know that there's more work to do.
"So there we go. We're onward."
The campaign between the incumbent mayor and five-term councilor at large has been heated, particularly in the last few weeks as Mazzeo took aim at crime and financial decisions made during Tyer's first term. But it wasn't enough to dislodge the popular mayor who racked up endorsements from city and Democratic leaders and public unions.
"I'm hugely, hugely disappointed because as a as a woman, I think and as a mother, I know how precious people's time is, for the amount of time that people gave up to me and amount of the money that people send to me," Mazzeo said her more subdued gathering. She was particularly struck by an envelope she received with four $1 bills for her campaign. She thinks it's from a veteran that she sees at the senior center.
"Right now, it's breaking my heart," she said. "You know, because people who gave of that."
Mazzeo said she'd felt it was her time to run after 10 years on the council, and made the tough decision after conferring with her husband, out of concern it would affect his business, Mazzeo's Ristorante.
"I think that for being on the council for 10 years, people really understood my take on things and they would come to my husband and they would say you know what, listen, we maybe not always agree with your wife every time but we'll tell you one thing — she does her homework," she said, after speaking to supporters at the restaurant. "And she she can defend herself. She knows what she's talking about. And she does it for the right reasons."
"Win or lose I think she did an amazing job. She put her best effort forward because she believes in Pittsfield," said her friend, Kristie Callahan.
But the victory belonged to a happy Tyer, who thanked her husband and sisters, and "those brave people who endorsed change," pointing out council President Peter Marchetti, state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the crowd.
"And thousands more, thousands more people in every neighborhood who quietly went to the polls and cast a vote for progress, for the future, because they believed in the work we've done, and they want us to do more of what works," said the mayor.
The mayor will be starting the new year with a slightly different council, as four seats were left open by departing councilors, including Mazzeo.
Marchetti, Peter White and Earl Persip III will return as councilors at large along with newcomer and local businesswoman Yuki Cohen. The four were the highest vote-getters against Richard Latura, Auron Stark, Alexander Blumin and Jay Hamling.
Helen Moon retained her seat for Ward 1 against challenger Kenneth Warren Jr., taking 54 percent of the vote (795-664); Christopher Connell also held his Ward 4 seat against an opponent, Michael Merriam, with 55 percent (1,303-1,070).
"I feel good I am happy to be surrounded by my community and people who are civically engaged," Moon said during the day. "It has been steady I don't think there has been a stop in the cars coming in."
Her opponent, Warren, was feeling good about the "great turnout."" People are waving to both sides," he said. "It is hard to beat an incumbent but I feel like I have a shot."
For the three open ward seats, Patrick Kavey bested former councilor Jonathan Lothrop, by an overwhelming 466 votes (1,061-595), or 64 percent; Dina Guiel Lampiasi will represent Ward 6, also fending off a former councilor, Joseph Nichols, by 845-634, or 57 percent; and Ward 7 sees the return of a former councilor in Anthony Maffuccio, who won over J. David Pope by a not insignificant 61 percent (750-486).
Running unopposed were incumbents Kevin Morandi for Ward 2 and Nicholas Caccamo for Ward 3.
"I feel good I am optimistic and I am really thankful for all of the volunteers who helped," Lampiasi said earlier in the day. Nichols was more circumspect, saying he was "cautiously optimistic" and that he was getting a lot of thumbs up. "I feel like this is my best chance to get back on the council but you have no way of knowing until those numbers come in," he said.
Connell said he was cautious every election. "I have done everything I could. I knocked on at least 2,000 doors," he said. "I did everything I could as I always have for the city."
Turnout in Tuesday's election was 42.4 percent, with 11,945 votes cast for mayor, including 44 write-ins and 78 blanks.
Two of the at-large council candidates were also hoping to gain seats, but fell short. Hamling, also a cautious optimist, said he'd been everywhere ... "and it has been really supportive and friendly, which is awesome because that is what we need for the city. I have enjoyed the camaraderie standing out here with everybody and the other candidates."
Blumin said the city needed change. "I feel great and I hope Melissa Mazzeo will be our mayor," he said. "It is time for change. We need new mayor and new council."
During the day, White said he, too, was "feeling great, and I have seen a lot of people come out to the polls. It's great just to be out here standing with such great volunteers."
All four incumbents were returned to the School Committee, with Chairwoman Katherine Yon receiving the highest number of votes, followed by William Cameron, Dan Elias and Dennis Powell and newcomers Mark Brazeau and Alison McGee gaining the final two seats. Out of the running was Thomas Perrea.
Also running unopposed was Michele Benjamin for city clerk.
Turnout was high at 42.4 percent of the city's 28,163 eligible voters. Poll worker Mike Lefebvre described the voting as "incredible."
"I was in three wards today, started at 8 o'clock in the morning done at 5," he said. "I've done it enough times, it was an incredible number that voted today and every ward I was in there were people constantly coming in. Even Reid Middle School where there is a large parking lot it was full of cars waiting for people to back out."
The vote has established the course of the city for at least the next four years. Tyer was the city's first four-year mayor under the charter revision and now is the first to be re-elected with that term.
"We won this election on sheer determination and hard work and never quit and keep going right up till the end, just like we always do," Tyer said. "Let's party. Let's savor this victory. And then let's get back to work."
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