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Connell, Morandi Won't Run Again for Pittsfield City Council
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:20PM / Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, left, and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi are ending their service after five terms each on the Pittsfield City Council.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield will say goodbye to two longtime city councilors this year.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell simultaneously announced that they would not be running for re-election.

The two councilors began together and represented their wards for five consecutive terms over nearly a decade. Both Morandi and Connell find it fitting that they are ending their careers as city councilors together.  

"I came in with Connell," Morandi said. "And I think it's been a real pleasure to work with him and I think it's very fitting that we're leaving together."

"Councilor Morandi and myself wanted to announce together," Connell said. "Because we felt we came in together at the same time, we felt we're going to go out together."

Both councilors stated that occurrences during 2020 and the past few years led to their decision. They expressed that they have made many great connections and will miss conversing with fellow councilors and constituents about issues that are dear to their hearts.

In the last year, Morandi said there have been a lot of 9-2 votes between himself and Connell and the rest of the council. He feels that in the last few years, some of the administration and council's actions were not in Ward 2 or the city's best interest.

Morandi emphasized that his priority was always to represent the voices and concerns of his constituents and that he appreciates Ward 2's support and trust.

"We all have our different philosophies and priorities," he said. "And I have been doing what the constituents have elected me to do and I'm very proud to stand on that and I'll be their voice, I just feel that their voice isn't being listened to."

He said the council boasts 11 different opinions and points of view, which is a good thing, but just feels that is time to move on.

"I haven't been afraid to do what I feel is best for the ward and is best for the city if it's standing alone on a vote. I have done that over my 10 years and I haven't been afraid to do that," Morandi said. "I always represent the residents, I don't work for anybody else other than the people that elected me in office and tried to do the best I could for them."

Before the end of his term, Morandi hopes for his constituents to have the results of an updated cancer study in the Allendale neighborhood that surrounds General Electric's two landfills. In last week's Public Health and Safety Subcommittee meeting, it was revealed that there hasn't been a study of this nature since 2008.  

In this meeting, Morandi and Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon made an official request to the state Department of Public Health to reconduct the study.

This has been an issue of public concern long before Morandi's time as a councilor, but he said a school abutting two landfills still scares him and that he will push to have another cancer study conducted.

Morandi also hopes that he will be able to attend an in-person meeting with his colleagues before the end of his term, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused all meetings to be virtual since March. He said that he will miss holding meetings and having Monday coffee hours with seniors twice a month.

In regards to the next councilor of Ward 2, Morandi hopes that whoever it is will be willing to put in the same amount of time and effort and that he or she continues to advocate for the concerns of the ward.

He noted that he was really proud of his constituent service, as he was quick to return calls and emails, and hopes that the next Ward 2 councilor is just as responsive.

"I just hope that whoever takes my place is going to be somebody that is again going to stick up and be a voice for the people that elected them, and they're not going to forget that once they get into office,"  Morandi said. "There's a lot of work that goes into being a councilor, I really enjoyed it. I have met so many nice people in the ward."

Connell believes that the council has lost focus of its purpose, which is being a check and balance to the administration.

"It's painfully obvious by the votes on some of the issues," he said.

Connell explained that he ran for office because it is supposed to be a government by the people and for the people, while right now he feels the city is run by the administration for the administration.

"I rant to help people, my neighbors, my friends in the ward, a ward that my family has lived in well over 40 years," he said. "And I just tried to make things better and I just feel it's too disturbing for me to continue to run and see things just go by and get outvoted on things when I'm just trying to ask questions and hold people accountable."

Connell was very disappointed in the council leadership at the time of subcommittee rollouts last January, as he was taken off the finance subcommittee despite his education and experience in the field. Because this was a position that Connell held for six years prior, he feels the decision was completely political.

"It's like a sports team," he said. "The manager of a baseball teams puts his most experienced and best pays in the position to win, that's the way it should be when you're assigning subcommittee roles because you want the best people and the best subcommittees with the most experience under those various areas for the benefit of the city. That's proper leadership and management, and that was completely forgone by political motives."

Connell believes that the majority of the City Council always votes in favor of the administration over the needs of residents, though he said there are councilors who truly care about their constituents.

"They want me out," he said. "the administration wants me out because I always ask too many questions of this administration, but that's my job."

Despite this, Connell said he has enjoyed his time as a councilor and relishes the fact that he has met so many nice people and became friends with a lot of them.

Connell hopes that the next Ward 4 councilor has the same core values as himself and does it for the people, not for political gain.  

"I ran for state representative in 2016, but I didn't do it for myself," he said. "I did it because we were facing a financial crisis and we were not getting help, we were not getting funds from the state that I felt we should be getting, and that was my main platform. I was willing to serve both on the council and as a state rep at the same time, which can be done because I wanted to help out the city."

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