NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There will be a change in government in the city by Tuesday night, and how different it will be depends on which chief executive voters chose.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 9 to 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center (Wards 1, 2, 3 & 5) and Greylock School (Ward 4.)
It's a duel for the corner office between longtime friends Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and Robert M. Moulton Jr., the challenger.
Alcombright is running for a third term for mayor on the progress he's made over the last four years, and his intention to continue along that course. He has pointed to a growing Main Street, the retention and expansion of jobs at Crane & Co., regional partnerships with law enforcement and municipalities, and two landmark initiatives: the Conte School renovation and the privatization plans for Heritage State Park.
Moulton, however, insists that the city hasn't prospered enough and says the incumbent hasn't done enough to combat crime. He is calling for hiring more police and personnel for other city departments, including inspection services, and creating a city-operated charter school, although he has not detailed how those would be funded. He also said he would not support the current deal to privatize the Heritage Park and would instead look for different investors.
No matter who's mayor, one thing is certain: The City Council for 2014-15 will have a very new, likely very younger, face than it has had for years. Links to candidate profiles and forums can be found here.
Five of the dozen candidates are under the age of 35; nine are under the age of 50. The oldest candidate is age 77. Still, differences between the candidates are more a matter of degree than distinction.
Four of the candidates are incumbents, with Keith Bona, 45, having the longest tenure. A local businessman and McCann Technical School graduate, he is running for a third term but spent eight years on the council in the 1990s, making him the veteran with 12 years total.
Incumbent Lisa Blackmer, 49, is seeking a fourth term. She has served as vice president of the council, represents the city on the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and works in accounting and human resources at Wheatleigh.
Incumbents Jennifer Breen, 34, and Nancy Bullett, 58, are each seeking a second term. Both are city natives who operate their own practices: Breen is an attorney and former assistant district attorney and Bullett is a physical therapist.
Past candidates trying again for a spot on the council are Eric Buddington, 40, Michael Hernandez, 42, and Robert Cardimino, 77.
Buddington works in information technology and is a musician and musical instructor, Hernandez is a real estate agent, and Cardimino, a retired GE worker, is a part-time landscaper.
The newcomers include Benjamin Lamb, 28, Joshua Moran, 31, Kate Merrigan, 34, David Robbins, 33, and Wayne Wilkinson, 62.
Lamb is assistant director for student involvement at Williams, Moran is a civil engineer, Merrigan is a program coordinator for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Robbins is a National Guardsman and property manager. Wilkinson, a commercial assessor, is new to the council but not to City Hall, having been a longtime member of both the Planning Board and Mobile Home Rent Control Board.
The candidates are in general agreement that the city should continue the master planning process, that the Conte School renovation is a done deal and that they support plans to privatize Western Gateway Heritage State Park. The exception is Cardimino, who believes privatization should not be done at the expense of the nonprofits, including the city's history museum, currently in the park.
All agreed that crime is a serious concern and that more attention needed to be paid to preventative action such as community organizations, education and drug use. Breen, Blackmer, Moran, Lamb, Bona and Cardimino agreed that hiring more officers would also be helpful, although there would have to be a plan for how to pay for them.
The top nine vote-getters will be seated on the next City Council.
Running for School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton, and newcomer Michele L. Vareschi.
Both Gary F. Rivers and Paul A. Gigliotti are running for re-election to the McCann School Committee.
Pittsfield Election Set For Tuesday
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three City Council ward seat, councilors at large and School Committee races will be decided Tuesday.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the citywide election. Not only will voters choose the new City Council but will also decide the fate of the newly revised charter (which is available below).
In Ward 1 and 6, the incumbents are being challenged. Ward 1 incumbent Christine Yon is facing Lisa Tully. In the preliminary, Tully was only 166 votes shy of Yon.
Seven candidates are vying for four at-large seats: incumbents Churchill Cotton, Barry Clairmont and Melissa Mazzeo and newcomers Donna Todd Rivers, James Conant, Mark Miller and Kathleen Amuso. Since there are only three incumbents, at least on newcomer will join the council. Council President Kevin Sherman opted not to run for re-election.
There are also seven candidates seeking seats on the School Committee: incumbents Daniel Elias and Katherine Yon and newcomers Joshua Cutler, Brittany Douglas, Cynthia Taylor, Anthony Riello and Pamela Farron.
Running unopposed are Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli and City Clerk Linda Tyer.
1A & 1B- Reid Middle School, 950 North Street
2A-Morningside School, 100 Burbank Street
2B-Somerset Fire Station, 9 Somerset Avenue
3A-Providence Court, 379 East Street
3B-Egremont School, 84 Egremont Avenue
4A-Herberg Middle School, 501 Pomeroy Avenue
4B-Williams School, 50 Bushey Road
5A-Masonic Temple, 116 South Street
5B-West Housatonic Street Fire Station, 311 West Housatonic Street
Mayor Alcombright understands what it takes to manage and promote our city and provide the services that people expect. He is deeply concerned about our cost of living, economic development and keeping North Adams an affordable place to live. He is dedicated to enriching our schools and developing the teaching infrastructure we need to better educate children.
The mayor is very proactive about resolving crime, blight and poverty in our city and has the fortitude and courage to acknowledge the problems that drug and alcohol abuse have on this issue, locally and nationwide.
His challenger, Bob Moulton, has made many negative and untrue statements about our mayor and city. It is true that the mayor has allowed for salary increases to certain city personnel as departments are streamlined and workloads are increased on individuals. However, Bob should remember from his years on the council that these raises pale in comparison to those given out during the previous administration. During those years from 2000 to 2009, the administrative officer went from $45,500 to $71,000; the MIS director went from $41,400 to $71,010; the commissioner of public safety went from $41,400 to $70,132; fire director went from $44,217 to $61,295; police director went from $44,217 to $63,016 and finally the mayor's salary went from $57,000 to $84,470, where it remains today, four years later.
Bob should also know that his allegations of property taxes being worse now than ever before are simply not true. From FY 2005 to 2010, while Bob was a councilor, the tax levy in the city increased from $7.8 million to $ 11.6 million or 67 percent - an average increase of 6.09 percent annually. Under Mayor Alcombright, from FY2011 to 2014, the tax levy in the city increased from $11.6 million to $14.2 million or 22.9 percent — an average increase of 5.75 percent annually.
And Bob should also remember that while those taxes were being increased annually prior to Mayor Alcombright taking office, the FY2005 to 2010 years had the luxury of state aid being increased $698,000 per year on average. From FY2011 to FY 2014, Mayor Alcombright has had to deal with an average reduction in state aid of $336,000 annually.
Bob also seems to be unaware that North Adams taxes are less than our neighboring communities and others outside of our area. The average singl-family home value in North Adams is $135,328 which results in a combined water/sewer and property tax bill of $2,667. Meanwhile, in Adams the same home pays $2,791 per year (with no sewer fee); Clarksburg pays $2,800 a year (without full-time fire department); Pittsfield pays $3,331 per year; Gardner pays $ 4,113 annually and Greenfield pays $4,439 per year.
Regarding unemployment, Bob would have you believe the situation is getting worse when the truth is that the North Adams unemployment rate has gone from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent today, a drop of 2.1 percent. Around the region and state, current unemployment in Adams stands at 8.8 percent; Gardner is at 9.9 percent; Fitchburg 10 percent; Holyoke 11.7 percent; New Bedford 13.1 percent; and Lawrence at 14.9 percent unemployment.
A quick Google search of the words "North Adams Crime rate" will take you to the same large list of websites that Bob probably got his crime information from. What he fails to tell us, however, is that these websites show our city has reported above the national and state average consistently, for over 10 years.
At the McCann debate, Bob criticized Mayor Alcombright for not "extorting" money, through a "linkage" account, from the new Super Walmart. Bob also made another anti-business statement by criticizing the mayor for last year's, ever so slight, reduction in our commercial tax rate that still remains the highest in the state.
I've seen a lot of change in our city having served as a city councilor the past 24 years. And the last four years have been the most positive for North Adams.
Mayor Alcombright is the right man for the job. He has given the city council full transparency to the budget process. He has listened and implemented ideas of citizens and has given the respect that is deserved to our hard working city employees. Mayor Alcombright is an honest man who will keep North Adams an affordable, attractive and safe place to live. He has earned my vote and I encourage you to vote for Mayor Alcombright.
Nov. 4, 2013
Bloom is the current president of the North Adams City Council.
North Adams City Council Candidate Profiles
There are a dozen candidates running for nine seats on the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The nine highest vote-getters will be elected.
We asked the candidates to offer some personal information and their thoughts on a number of issues that have been before the City Council or raised in the mayoral election over the past few months. Their responses varied, so not every candidate answered every question, but we believe they have provided enough information for voters to get a good grasp on their backgrounds, ideas and stands on a number of critical issues.
The nine candidates who have returned their questions are listed below; their profiles also include the NBCTV panels they participated in, which were moderated by state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, which are also available on this page. They were also interviewed by on WNAW radio by Editor Tammy Daniels and the radio's Megan Duley and those programs will be repeated on WNAW through the weekend.
Click on the banner to go to the candidate's profile page.
Forum 1: Michael Hernandez, Benjamin Lamb, Kate Merrigan and Wayne Wilkinson
Forum 2: Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, Nancy Bullett and Robert Cardimino
Forum 3: Jennifer Breen, Eric Buddington and Joshua Moran
Support Local News
We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.
How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.
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.