Rhonda Serre challenges incumbent for Ward 7 Pittsfield City Council seat

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PITTSFIELD — The city is poised for greatness. And City Council candidate Rhonda Serre wants to be a steward of that process.

"There is lots of positive momentum and it is exciting to be on the brink of Pittsfield's transformation from a one-company town to a vibrant, multicultural, economically empowered community," she said.

The Ward 7 candidate will face incumbent Anthony J. Simonelli, who is seeking re-election.

Her announcement brings with it what could be contested races for all 11 council seats.

Serre, 50, said infrastructure maintenance, crime prevention, and jobs are her top priorities.

With many employees clocking-in virtually she said Pittsfield should leverage its assets — a relatively low cost of living, when many students face mounting debt, a vibrant arts scene, and ready access to outdoor recreation — to attract young people.

"What 25-year-old wouldn't want to live here?" she asked. "They need a quality of life and a cost of living that can support them and that is what we have."

She said successful marketing requires private-public partnerships but, above all else, vocal locals are key.

"People are the greatest network," she said. "One person saying, `I love it here, come visit me' goes so much further than an ad in the New York Times."

Regarding crime prevention, she said, if elected, she plans to support the inroads made by the Police Department around community policing.

"I want to make sure that the spirit stays positive and continues to rise above the din of what's been happening nationally," she said.

And when it comes to Ward 7, she said special attention needs to be paid to its smaller, narrow streets, which are often challenging to plow in the winter.

"The citizens of Ward 7 need a hand in catching the city's attention and someone who will jump in and advocate for what their street needs," she said.

Currently employed at Elder Services of Berkshire County, Serre works in outreach and advancement.

Economic development is something she is passionate about and has been a past focus.

She spent five years as former U.S. Rep. John Olver's economic advisor, and two years at Mass Development as vice president of business development. She has a Master's of Business Administration from the Umass Isenberg School of Management and a bachelor's degree from the College of Saint Rose.

A resident of Berkshire County since age 6, Serre and her husband, Shawn Serre, relocated to the city in 1991.

"Shawn was from North Adams and I was from Lee," she said. "We split the difference for future grandparents sake at that time."

The couple have a son and a daughter, both graduates of Taconic High School.

A member of the Resource Recovery Committee, which studied options for revamping the city's trash removal process, Serre has also served as a committee member of the state Democratic Party.

A Facebook page and her campaign team, which includes treasurer Karen Winslow, will help her share her messages. But mostly Serre said she will focus on face-to-face interaction to learn constituent concerns and ideas.

"I really want to celebrate. That is the most important thing," she said. "Part of making Pittsfield attractive is being proud of who we are and having hope and faith that this will be our renaissance."

Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo


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