PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The two candidates hoping to rope the job of Berkshire County sheriff came out swinging on Monday night in their second debate. The 90-minute face-off at Conte Community School drew cheers and a few jeers from the crowd of more than 100 as the two Democrats tried to convince voters what a sheriff should be made of.
Thomas N. Bowler and Daniel E. Bosley last met in June in the first of four scheduled forums before the Sept. 14 primary. The candidates covered familiar ground on Monday night, hitting hard on the themes they've developed over the past few months. But it's been clear from the start that voters will be deciding what kind of sheriff they want — a public safety official or a law enforcement official.
"After 32 years, with the same sheriff, a lot of people aren't clear what the sheriff does," said Bosley, a 24-year state representative, describing that role as "the crux of the issue." "This is a human services job ... it's not a law enforcement job."
It was muggy in the Conte Community School gym and those on stage quickly doffed their jackets; it got more heated as the evening wore on.
Bowler, a Pittsfield detective with more than 20 years in law enforcement, disagreed strongly.
"If you were on a school committee, and you were going to hire a new superintendent for your schools, would you hire somebody who did not have a background in education?" he asked. "If you had a hospital administrator you were looking to hire, would hire somebody that does not have any health care experience — absolutely not."
The debate was sponsored by the Morningside and West Side neighborhood initiatives and moderated by Berkshire Eagle Executive Editor Tim Farkas, who noted the importance of electing the "first new Berkshire County sheriff since 1978." The candidates each were allowed opening and closing statements. Bosley took the first question by coin toss; the second candidate then was given a chance for response before it went back to the first candidate for rebuttal.
The two men did agree on a few things, including support for the revival of inmates growing produce for themselves and continuing to provide academic and trade skills education, working closely with local human service organizations and law enforcement agencies and alternative sentencing for juveniles, depending on their crimes.
In relation to the Morningside neighborhood, both said they would not consider selling off the property near Morningside School because of its current use for teaching trades and potential for further programs.
But they disagree heartily on three main issues — the role of sheriff, the need for a regional lockup and the expansion of programs beyond the House of Correction.
Bosley has called for a regional lockup similar that of Hampshire County. Located in the House of Correction, it would free up local police from transporting and guarding suspects and bring in much-needed revenue to the jail, he said. He estimated the cost for Pittsfield at about $35,000 a year that would translate into more police on the street.
"It makes fiscal sense for the town, it makes fiscal sense for the jail," said Bosley.
Bowler called the idea "completely irresponsible" and a waste of money at a time with the sheriff's budget is already pinched. "From my expereince, my 24 years, I can't remember at any point in time when all the 32 towns and cities had to lock up anyone at the same time."
But the sheriff has to come up with innovative ways to bring in revenue streams to expand programs, said Bosley, who called for the sheriff's department to take on a greater role integrating former inmates into the community after they were released.
"I think we need to be better coordinated to create a 'continuum of services' that would save money and help people to not re-offend," he said. Bosley frequently pointed to Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, which he helped found, as a model for working at the neighborhood level. "We need to follow them out into the community."
Bowler, who spent more than a year working in the House of Correction as a supervisor, said it was important for the department to work with community organizations, and be involved with the schools and Boys' and Girls' Clubs to forge bonds with youth. But there were already good programs in the House of Correction and no need to expand them; rather, the effort should be made through community outreach programs.
"There are adequate programs in education and trades," he said. "I'd talk to inmates and get their input into how we can make it better."
In response to question on the budget, the detective said he'd call for an audit and an assessment by the department's finance staff before making any decisions. The representative quickly responded, "I'm not going to rely on somebody else I'm going to look at the budget myself."
The debate got heated toward the end, with some boos from the back following Bosley's statement that Bowler "is very good at what he does and I think he should stay there." He later chastised the Bowler supporters for catcalls: "This is the way you've conducted this campaign." (The June forum also turned testy when a Bowler supporter tried to debate Bosley.)
Bowler retorted that "This is a true professional versus a politician." Bosley countered, "I prefer to think of myself as an elected official."
The candidates will meet again tonight, Tuesday, at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center. A final debate is planned for early September on WUPE/WNAW.
Williamstown.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Bosley is grasping at straws, trying to convince voters that the Sheriff is a social worker, not a policeman. That's his first mistake.
Then there's the branding of his beard - why would a candidate even MENTION his facial hair at all, pray tell? Yet, there it is on Bosley's website - the BEARD BRANDING. Why not stand on your record, as it applies to the job of Sheriff, rather than branding beards and trying to spin the meanings of words?
I'll be voting for the career law enforcement official, not the politician with the feathers over his ears, a beard which extends below his collar, and considerable excess weight. You can spin it any way you want, but there are certain standards which still should be met, and FIT and CLEAN-CUT are two of them.
Maybe Bosley thinks it's cute to brand his beard - maybe he got away with that in Boston as a politician. But when some inmate grabs a hold of that thing? Then what? Bosley simply hasn't got the "street smarts" or the physical condition required to handle a job which entails being one step ahead of jailed criminals. It wouldn't be "human services" at that point, it would be "law enforcement".
As for the regional lock-up facility, PORK. We don't need it, we can't pay for it, and it will bring busloads of undesirables into the county - as if the Bosley/Barrett Brigade hasn't inflicted enough of those on us already!
I think you mean it's not NICE to say that Bosley looks, acts and IS unfit for the job of Sheriff.
I take personal offense to the fact that he's even running. He's been throwing out one piece of political sleight of hand after another. Obvious ploys which are meant to bamboozle the voter - thereby insulting the voter, and betraying the public trust.
I mad as hell and I'm not going to be NICE about Dan Bosley.
The Current BCHC already acts as a regional lockup and has since it's opening back in 2001.
I dont know if anyone else has noticed, but, there seems to be a pro Bosley thief out on the streets stealing all the Tom Bowler for Sheriff signs. I personally had 2 stolen from my front lawn as did my sister. That is called DIRTY POLITICS. Seems like most of the Tom Bowler signs along Route 2 in Williamstown and North Adams have been stolen. Come on now Mr.(not Sheriff) Bosley(Since when does one call himself Sheriff before one is elected), let's run a fair and legitimate campaign.
Sheriff- A social worker!! hahaha dan go apply for a job with DYS your in over your head! Maybe Bowler will hire you as a grant writer when he wins, then maybe you can the 600,000 dollars back that was slashed from the sheriffs budget! You couldn't get money as a rep., please stop lying about getting us more money as sheriff!! Go Bowler!
I think Tom Bowler has the congeniality to become our new Sheriff. I've know Tom for over 20 years in town, and he's a good man.
My impression of Mr. Bosley (not knowing his background), is that "it's about power", being a politician, and it's just not the place for this.
I just can't see past his ridicule of this race and this is not a good attempt to reach the people for such a position.
Largely disagree with this. Tom Bowler definitely did not win Monday nights debate. He admitted it himself. I give Mr. Bowler credit for getting up there, as he is not a public speaker, but whether you are used to public speaking or not, you have to be able to answer the questions asked and have a plan as to what you will do if elected to the position you're running for. He couldn't. He didn't have the answers. Mr. Bosley is the best man for the job, and I think Berkshire County is realizing that. The sheriff's job isn't about muscle, it's about brains. Mr. Bowler seems to be a good guy, and he certainly has a lot of people behind him, but that doesn't make him right for the job of sheriff.
I will be voting for Dan Bosley on Sept 14th. He truly is the best man for the job.
A few years ago the voters of Northern Berkshire clearly indicated that they wanted an "on the job" experienced Registrar of Deeds when they voted for Fran Brooks who had worked in that office for a number of years.
You may remember that she was challenged by a local politician (Gail Cariddi). The voters overwhelmingly voted for Fran Brooks and she was elected to office.
The voters of Berkshire County will again provide experience over a non-experienced politician.
I came into this election with an open and neutral mind. However, following the campaign closely, I am impressed with Det. Bowler and disappointed with Rep. Bosley.
Never once in recent memory, have I ever heard any Chief of Police in any Berkshire County community speak about the strains of having to watch a prisoner who may be held over night in a local lock up. Additionally, I know very well that police officers receive training in the academy regarding how to restrain an arrestee, how to properly transport them, and finally, how to monitor them while in custody. Rep. Bosley is trying to mislead the public in believing police have no idea what they are doing when a person is in custody. Finally, with the budget issues everyone faces, I agree with another poster, this is a PORK project which shouldn’t and can’t be funded.
Rep. Bosley has represented himself in a negative and confrontational manner throughout this entire campaign. I was surprised by his behavior and quickly turned off. However a person should vote for who will be best for the job, after reviewing both candidates, its clear Det. Bowler is the best qualified candidate for this position and I am looking forward to the September election to vote him into office.
All of you Bowler Boosters make the same claim over and over again - that the Sheriff must be a police officer. Which only says you know nothing about what this job entails. The current Sheriff, who has been in office for over 3 decades, was never a police officer. Yet you re-elected him time and time again, never questioning his qualifications for the job. Mr. Bowler, if elected, may do a very fine job, but his being a police officer doesn't mean that's guaranteed. And as for "guy," if you have to base your vote on personal insults, you're just the kind of "informed" voter we don't need. If you don't like Bosley, fine. Keep your personal attacks to yourself. I bet when you look in the mirror you don't see Matt Damon.
Hey Correction, are you trying to claim that Carmen has not been a politician? Please, make me laugh even more. Carmen has run the largest political machine in Berkshire County history for the past three decades. He's a politician with a capital P.
Why the job still has the name "Sheriff" is beyond me. It is a jailkeeper and glorified process server, period.
While I cannot comment on Tom Bowler personally, his supporters do nothing but say that he is a well liked police officer. Tell me about his management skills. Tell me about his additional training. Tell me about his experience with budgets. Tell me about his experience with supervising employees.
You may want to ask that of Bosley as well...what and whom has he led? Did Bosley accomplish a state budget single-handed? C'mon! An axiom in leadership is that some are good leaders and not good managers, and conversely also. Leaders are rare, managers learn, the current sheriff has a managerial staff, inclusive of grant writers which is a major point...
I don't think it's the web site, it's the general public making the comments. They don't have to be neutral. The article was neutral enough; just stating what happened during the debate. They didn't report how Bowler's supporters couldn't seem to follow the instructions of not applauding until the debate was over. That would've been biased.
While it is commnendable of Bosley's supporters to bang his drum, the question is what are his qualifications for sheriff? Enough of the legislative experience rhetoric, for those of us in the 1st Berkshire District, at least the thinkers, I cannot recall a major accomplishment in many years. Ok, he spoke better than Bowler during a debate (and that's arguable), but 24 years spewing in Boston will do that for one. After careful and objective consideration, Bowler is logical. By the way, initially Massmiano was 'given' the position by Dukakis is 1978.
Are you serious? Dan Bosley has brought a great deal to the 1st District. Most recently, a $30+ milliondollar Science/Tech building to MCLA, helped bring in the funding for a little place called MASS MoCA, played an key role in creating the Ashwiltocook Rail Trail just to name a few.
He also has PLENTY of experience with budgets and has headed several committee's in Boston.
To say that he "spoke better than Tom Bowler (and that's arguable) is an absolute joke! Bowler even admitted that he got wipped out in the debate. Tom Bowler is hard to listen to, brings nothing to the table and couldn't hang in the Jail when he worked there for 18 months.
"Thanks also to the members of our legislative delegation, in particular Representative Bosley, who has been a strong advocate every step of the way to make the MCLA Center for Science and Innovation a reality.
But Dan Bosley hasn't done anything for the district. You have blinders on sir. Just presenting the facts.
So Massmiano was appointed, who cares? He has been a decent sheriff. The BCHC, the JRC just some of the things he helped create. Bosley can keep these running and secure more adequate funds. And if Bowler thinks everything is "adequate" why to I read the same names every so often in The Transcript? That's because repeat offenders are not adequately taken care of.
Bosley did speak better than bowler last night! He better because thats the only thing he has done in the last 24 years! North adams was once the #1 city in the Northeast! Why, because of its people not its politicians! North adams pick yourself up and boot Bosley out of office. He has left North adams worse off than when he started! Besides I will be voting for bowler because he WILL WORK, not talk about work!!
Dan Bosley has been a great representative for Western Mass. He has been there for the people with hard work, loyalty and care. He would be a great Sherrif and someone to be proud of. Good luck to Mr. Bowler but Dan seems to be the right choice for me.
How can Bowler claim to be a true professional? And his supporters are obnoxious. And how about the two lawyers who violated the ethics law? Bowler didn't even deny it nor did Capeless! I've run a campaign before and lawn signs are just causality of war, whether its people or the elements, signs get lost, go missing or are destroyed. And to take a cheap shot about not being shape, I think Bowler has had one to many doughnuts himself. And people forget that the current sheriff was a teacher before he was appointed by the state as sheriff. And for the bashing, comes with campaigning. But in the end, it boils down to this: Law Man or Law Maker? The choice is clear. Vote Bosley.
Clarksburg: Election, May 27; town meeting, May 28
Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.