PITTSFIELD — Two local women are vying for an open seat on the Town Council in the Nov. 8 election.

Running to represent District 3 on the council are Donna Chale, a council veteran, and Crystal Witham, who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat last year.

Four years ago, the seat was won by Chale and she decided last year not to seek re-election after serving the three-year term because she planned to move. William Bradshaw defeated Witham to succeed Chale on the council.

But Bradshaw has now moved, which created a vacancy for the remaining two years of the council term. Chale has decided to run again for her old seat — she’s staying in town after all — and Witham wants another shot at winning a spot.

Chale, 60, the school district’s librarian, says she feels qualified to return to the council given her experience and thinks the town is on the right track.

“I just like being involved,” Chale said. “I’ve been successful in the job and I know what’s involved. I would like to continue the work I started. I think the town’s done a really good job of providing services balanced with fiscal responsibility.”

By contrast, Witham is not satisfied with certain operations of the town government. Witham, 48, is a senior injury resolution consultant with the company CMS.

“My father always said, ‘If you don’t agree with something — don’t complain about it, effect change,'” Witham said.

At issue for Witham is what she sees as a pattern of irresponsible actions by municipal officials. Witham also says she’s spoken with other residents who share her concerns.

For example, Witham questions recent water rate increases.

Witham said she is mostly concerned about the town operating in the most cost effective way possible.

“Everything is increasing,” Witham said. “People’s incomes have decreased and the citizens are saying, ‘We can’t make up the difference.'”

Chale thinks the town — specifically Town Manager Kathryn Ruth — has done a good job of marketing Pittsfield to companies and keeping the budget and tax rate stable.

“There has been no increase in the town budget for years,” Chale said. “Taxes have gone up, but that’s because of school and county budgets.”

Still, Chale acknowledges the town faces big challenges. Even as the town has “held the line on spending pretty firmly,” that’s resulted in cutbacks such as town workers foregoing pay increases.

The town’s workforce also suffered a blow earlier this month when the firm Global Contact Services abruptly closed up shop after three years, laying off its 65 employees.

“We lost a lot of jobs,” Chale said, referring to the firm’s closure. “And across the street from me, a house has been empty for several years. The market is just not here if we don’t have people who have a reason to be here. I would love to see revitalization of the theater come to fruition — we have services that attract people.”

Witham said there are foreclosed homes on her street, too, and says it’s because people can’t pay their bills.

As a town councilor, “I’d like to know our money is being budgeted wisely,” Witham said. “I’d ask: how is that happening and why? I think when a group of selectmen have been there a long time you get stagnant; you just get used to things.”

As a fresh face, Witham said she would bring a new perspective to the council.

“I want to raise legitimate questions that people are asking me and I want to find those answers out,” she said. “I have been a very active part of this community with volunteer organizations and want to take it up one step.”

Polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 8, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town office.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]


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