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Alcombright Rallies Supporters at Campaign Event

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
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Richard Taskin introduces Alcombright.
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Richard Alcombright 'energized' his campaign with a rally at Public on Tuesday.

NORTH ADAMS,  Mass. — The city's mayoral campaign is heating up as the incumbent fired back at his challenger to a packed Public restaurant on Tuesday night.

Richard Alcombright is running for a third two-year term in the corner office against Robert M. Moulton Jr., a former city councilor and local businessman.

"I have been waiting to hear his platform, to hear what is so bad, to try to wrap my arms around why he would run," said Alcombright about his former supporter, saying Moulton's kick off remarks more than a week ago "reeked of the past."

"My biggest disappointment with his announcement is that the same Bob Moulton supported me four years ago on the hope that past practices would be just that ... past practices."

Alcombright reiterated some of the highlights of his administration, including the cutting the city's deficit from $2.6 million to $335,000 this fiscal year through cuts and tax increases; the development of the Health and Human Services Center to keep critical state social services in North Adams and lobbying the state to ensure the courts and the Registry of Motor Vehicles stays here; the openings or expansions of at least 30 new businesses, from Public to the Walmart Supercenter to the retention of Crane's stationery division.

He singled out Moulton's comments about the downtown losing momentum and the need for an economic plan to help Main and Eagle streets. Moulton's family has operated Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street and in Bennington, Vt., for years.

"He talks about downtown revitalization and that all I have done are benches and pocket parks and that I use social events to mask the problems in our business district," said Alcombright. "My guess then is that he works in Bennington way too much to have not realized that the vacancy rate in our downtown is the lowest it has been in two decades."

That comment and others received hoots and applause from the crowded room that included local officials and business owners, many from Main Street.

Councilors President Michael Bloom, Keith Bona, Jennifer Breen, David Bond, Nancy Bullett and Lisa Blackmer were in attendance along with former Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto, city department heads and council hopefuls Kate Merrigan, Benjamin Lamb, Joshua Moran and David Robbins.

Alcombright promised further economic development with the long awaited proposal for Western Gateway Heritage State Park set to be announced on Wednesday afternoon. The privatization of the park has been in the works for nearly two years.

He also jabbed Moulton for implying the city's police force was not well trained and expanded on the efforts being made to combat crime and its sources — poverty and drug abuse — through task forces and partnerships with local service agencies.

"We are no longer blind to these realities and, as a community, we need to admit to and address these problems," he said, "and I have."

North Adams, he said, was still one of the most affordable communities to live in, ranking 330 out of state's 340 towns and cities in terms of most-taxed municipalities.

"We will be unveiling our master plan in the first quarter of next year, that plan when given to the community and driven by our recently hired planner under the direction of our community development director holds significant promise and will be our roadmap for the future," he said, dismissing his challenger's intent to use the 20-year-old Hyatt-Palma report.

Moulton has laid out an "action" plan he says will stick to basics and revitalize the city and accused Alcombright of having no plan and managing the city's finances poorly.

The fundraiser was designed to "energize" the Alcombright campaign, which has been fairly quiet since his announcement to run in late June. The two candidates are expected to have at least two debates before the November election.

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