Our Opinion: Gailanne Cariddi

Gailanne Cariddi served North Adams as a businesswoman, city councilor and state representative of the 1st Berkshire District, which also put eight other towns within her purview. Her accomplishments were accompanied by a quiet dignity that was her trademark until her death Saturday at the age of 63.

State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat who described Ms. Cariddi to The Eagle as a "dear, dear friend" of 35 years (Eagle, June 18), said the North Adams Democrat had been quietly battling cancer for more than a year. That this fight was not public knowledge was typical of Ms. Cariddi, a private person in a profession given to high-profile personalities. State Senator Adam Hinds, a Pittsfield Democrat, succinctly summed up her approach to public service as: "Kindness, humility, don't seek the limelight and focus on helping those around you."

The North Adams native's roots in the city's business community go back to the Cariddi Sales Company founded by her father, James Cariddi. Former Mayor John Barrett III recalls that her tenure on the City Council, which included several terms as Council president, was marked by her diligent, largely behind the scenes work on projects that moved the city forward, as well her kindness to others. An advocate of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, she was instrumental in securing the $25 million state grant critical to Building 6 project at MoCA.

Mr. Barrett told The Eagle he thought Ms. Cariddi would succeed him at some point, but in 2010, a vacancy in the 1st Berkshire District prompted her to run for a spot on Beacon Hill. She became the first woman elected to that seat and was in the midst of her fourth term.

Her appointment this term as House chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture testified to her keen interest in important issues that not only affected her district, which includes Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough and New Ashford along with North Adams, but affected all of Berkshire Couny. The same can be said of her other areas of keen interest and expertise, such as protecting small business, boosting education and assuring affordable health care. Given her respect for personal privacy it is not surprising that she has been in the middle of the ongoing fight in Massachusetts to relieve residents of the burden of increasing spam phone calls.

Representative Cariddi's quiet dignity, intellect and hard work were the common themes consistently brought up by Berkshire elected officials, from those mentioned to Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, and state Representatives Paul Mark and Trivia Farley-Bouvier, as well as House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The loss of Gailanne Cariddi is a painful one for her district and the Berkshries, but she leaves behind a solid legacy and a template for how to serve in government with grace and dignity.


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