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Plan In Place to Continue Cariddi's Work Until Special Election
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Friday, June 30, 2017
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The Berkshire Delegation is doing what it can to make sure legislation filed by late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi doesn't get lost.


The Berkshire Delegation is stepping up to make sure constituents of the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi are being served until her seat can be filled in August. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire delegation is teaming up to ensure no work of late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi gets left behind.
 
The special election to fill Cariddi's seat isn't until November but the rest of the delegation and staff has geared up to work closely with the North Adams Democrat's staff members to ensure a continuation of service.
 
Kevin Towle, Cariddi's legislative aide, will remain on the job as a local liaison to the Legislature and helping constituents.
 
"I held a conference call with the other staffs of the Berkshire delegation. Together we divided up responsibility for legislation that Rep. Cariddi had filed and I will be continuing to liaise with other appropriate legislative staffs to ensure that all of the important legislation we worked on will move forward," Towle said on Thursday.  
 
"We also have a plan in place for any home-rule matters that may need to be filed prior to the special election. Reps. [Paul] Mark and [William] Pignatelli's offices have agreed to assist in moving any that may arise through the House."
 
Mark said the delegation is no stranger to stepping up to make sure work is completed. When former Pittsfield state Rep. Christopher Speranzo left office, the delegation executed a similar plan. 
 
"It is difficult to pick up the slack, but we already work closely as a team, so we are ready to do it," the Peru Democrat said. 
 
The legislative staffers from each of the districts have sorted out individual bills of Cariddi's to follow. Towle and others from Cariddi's office will be working even closer with the representatives for anything that is needed in the House — whether that be a phone call to help usher a piece of legislation through or sponsoring pieces of legislation. 
 
"We never turn down a Berkshire call anyway," Mark said. "And when there is a time in need, we all pull together... whatever needs to get done, we're there to help."
 
Pignatelli said right now he's tracking down where each of Cariddi's bills is in the legislative process and in tandem with her staff members planning a strategy to move them along. He said he is prioritizing her bills based on what is most important to her district.
 
"We can advocate to get bills out of committee. I'm understanding her bills so I can testify on her behalf or submit written testimony," the Lenox Democrat said. "Right now it is finding out where each bill is and planning a strategy."
 
Pignatelli called it a "divide and conquer" approach to handling Cariddi's work on top of the work of each representative. He, Mark, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, have all taken portions of the work and are making themselves available for Cariddi's staff members.
 
"[Cariddi] was lucky because she already had a wonderful staff to begin with," Pignatelli said.
 
Mark said much of Cariddi's most pressing pieces of legislation have already passed the House. But there are still bills working through the process and throughout the next few months, there could arise the need to file and pass home-rule petitions. 
 
Of course, the district is still represented in the state Senate by Adam Hinds and he'll file district-specific legislation on the Senate side. Hinds said the loss of Cariddi could add some additional work to his plate but he is ready to take on whatever is needed. 
 
"We just sent out letters to the local town boards and the mayor saying 'consider our staff your staff and use us as needed,'" Hinds said. "We were in immediate communication with [Towle] and making sure he knows he can work with us."
 
Cariddi died on June 17, six months into her fourth term representing North County. The special election to fill out the rest of term will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7. 
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