Alcombright Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign
Mayor Richard Alcombright makes a point at his campaign kickoff.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright kicked off the city's campaign season on Thursday night with a downtown rally.
More than a 100 supporters attended Alcombright's announcement for a third run at the corner office, held at the newly named MediTerra on Main Street. In between kebabs and cigar boreks, the mayor told the crowd he had three simple reasons for running again: his love of the city, working with people and solving problems, and the progress he has seen.
(Alcombright spoke with iBerkshires about some of the challenges he sees in a third term earlier this month.)
"I truly love this city, I love what was, what it has become and the thought of what it can become," he said. "I think we truly are making progress. I would not do this again if I didn't think we were moving in the right direction."
Alcombright pointed to Crane & Co., which had planned to leave the city with 120 jobs when he first entered office three years ago. After many discussions and a negotiated tax break, North Adams is now the headquarters for Crane's Fine Stationery Division and is expected to employ 280 people by September.
"Maybe the first time that this old mill town in decades has seen two shifts running," said the mayor to applause.
"I work very quietly ... I want folks to know and understand that being mayor is about one thing ... leadership," said Alcombright. "I quietly provide that leadership each and every day. I don't look for headlines, quite honestly I try to avoid them, I look for results and when I get them, I pat those folks on the back who make it happen."
He checked of a list accomplishments that included keeping Juvenile Court and state services in the city, the Conte School project, the Walmart Supercenter and its nearly 200 jobs, plans for a 4 megawatt solar array, development of tourist trains, collaborations with surrounding communities, pushing for the resurfacing of the West End bridges ahead of schedule, savings in city services and health insurance costs, a new master plan, ongoing talks for the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, and keeping budgets at less than 2 percent over the last three cycles.
"But there is a darkness in this city brought on by a few who I truly believe do not want the city to succeed," said Alcombright. "However, despite destructive efforts, we have a clear mission within my administration and that is simply to make things happen through vision and collaboration."
More effort is still needed in working with efficiencies and state and local officials, he said, and the recent rash of violence has to be addressed.
He vowed to "put the hurt" on those selling drugs in the city. And after the stabbing incident outside a city bar two weeks ago, he determined "the day of the incident that that bar would be closed ... It remains closed as we speak."
Alcombright was introduced by Richard Taskin.
"Our crime issues for the large part are drug and alcohol related and we need a way to figure out how to fix that," said Alcombright, adding that he would be meeting with the Police Director Michael Cozzaglio and the media on Friday.
Much of the mayor's comments were met with applause. Eight of the nine city councilors stopped in — President Michael Bloom, Alan Marden, Marie Harpin, Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, David Bond, Nancy Bullett and Jennifer Breen — as well Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy and North Adams Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney.
He was also endorsed by 2005 mayoral candidate Walter L. Smith Jr., who said Alcombright had accomplished 90 percent of the goals he'd laid out four years ago.
The simplest sign that he was turning the city around was the installation of the benches on Main Street, said Smith. "This is not the old North Adams anymore, this is the new North Adams."
Local attorney Richard Taskin, who produces a program with Alcombright on NBCTV, introduced the mayor as "a man of faith and a person with faith in people" who was big enough to admit his mistakes and "willing to do what is right even if it is not popular."
Perhaps the most unpopular was his decision to pursue a Proposition 2 1/2 override two years ago. "I'm still in therapy," Alcombright joked, but he was convinced it was the right thing to do to square the city's continued fiscal woes. Despite its defeat, he said it "proved I can handle myself in a tough situation."
"Have you liked everything I've done?" he said. "I don't think so but that's OK. Hell, even my mother tells me all the things I do wrong."
Alcombright said he had delivered on his vows for openness, honesty, accessibility and transparency and asked voters to continue to trust him.
"We only have to agree on two things here tonight: We love this city and we want to see it grow," he said. "If we have those two things in common, we can work together."