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State Rep. Pignatelli appointed as Lenox’s interim town manager, effective July 1

Select Board members applauded filling the opening with a local resident already knowledgeable with town workings.

Lenox — The Select Board approved State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D – 3rd Berkshire District) as its interim town manager, effective July 1, following the departure of Christopher Ketchen who recently accepted a position with the Commonwealth’s Division of Local Services. With member Neal Maxymillian off the dais, the June 12 vote was taken during the group’s meeting, after they tabled a vote on the Town Manager Screening Committee until June 26 so the full Select Board could be present.

Pignatelli, who declined to run for another term with the state legislature, told The Berkshire Edge he spoke with the Ethics Commission to confirm that no conflict exists between his current service to the Commonwealth and the new local appointment. His legislative term is set to expire in early January, and he said he expressed interest in the soon-to-be vacated position to Select Board Chair Ed Lane as his time in the legislature “is coming to an end.”

“I thought I could fill a nice gap and try to carry on the wonderful traditions of [Christopher] Ketchen,” Pignatelli said. “I think the town is in fantastic financial shape, facing some challenges going forward, and I believe I could be a nice bridge to that opportunity.”

He said the last five months in the legislature during an election year are without controversy in the statehouse.

For Pignatelli, whose resume includes a seat on the Lenox dais from 1992 to 2003, local government service is his first love. He recalled shadowing his father—also a member of the town’s governing body—in his youth. “I grew up in local government,” Pignatelli said. “My first time in the Lenox Town Hall was tagging along with my father when I was 11 years old. When I saw how he interacted as a Selectman, I learned a lot from him and other people.”

His first year serving on the Select Board was his father’s last year after being in that position for 32 years.

“I’m extremely passionate and feel very knowledgeable about local governments,” Pignatelli said. “I feel I can hit the ground running without skipping a beat at all. I’m just very excited about the opportunity, and I feel I’m very well qualified.”

He said he spoke with all five members of the Lenox Select Board prior to the appointment, citing their response as “overwhelming.”

Lane agreed and read a letter at the session before the vote, praising Pignatelli for his understanding of local government and job skills to fill the three- to six-month gap in the position. He said the measure obviates the need to do a search for an interim town manager or require another staffer or official to “do double duty.” According to Lane, ideally, the new permanent town manager will be in place “by early fall” and no later than the beginning of 2025. He said he is asking Ketchen to work out the details and compensation for Pignatelli before he leaves.

“I think that’s a pretty sweet idea,” Select Board member Marybeth Mitts said of the appointment.

Board member Dave Roche weighed in, fully endorsing Pignatelli. “He knows all the issues that face the town, both historically and what we’re facing now,” he said.

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