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Alcombright Rallies Supporters at Campaign Event

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
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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Mayoral Candidate Moulton Has Action Plan for North Adams

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
Mayoral candidate Bob Moulton and his 'supermom' Carolyn Moulton. Moulton said the support of his family, including his children and wife, Bonny, were most important to him.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Robert M. Moulton Jr. laid out the themes his mayoral campaign will hammer on going into the November election: finances, economic development, public safety and schools.

"I want the people of North Adams to be proud of the city again, I want them to have a mayor who will not be out of touch with them, and they will have a government that is there to help them," the former city councilor vowed as some 100 friends, family and supporters clad in red "Bob for Mayor" shirts applauded at the American Legion on Friday night.

The three-term councilor said he decided to run for mayor because "I believe North Adams is headed in the wrong direction."

Moulton took aim at incumbent Richard Alcombright, who is running for a third term, saying he had failed to follow through with his campaign pledges of the past four years.

The administration's failures "are the direct result of misguided priorities and broken promises," said Moulton, claiming that Yankee Magazine had once described the city as a "hidden jewel," but "after nearly four years of indecisive leadership, the jewel has lost its luster."

Many of the charges that Moulton fired at his longtime friend were repeats of former Councilor Ronald Boucher's campaign two years ago, including that Alcombright had cried poverty while handing some $700,000 in raises to the school system, that his administration has been far less transparent than he says and that he has failed financially.

Moulton had been a strong supporter of Boucher, as he had supported Alcombright in his first run. This time it's topsy-turvy, with the man Moulton helped Alcombright beat in 2009, now going all out to get Moulton elected.

"Bob Moulton's my candidate for mayor," declared former Mayor John Barrett III, in introducing Moulton. Barrett, currently a city councilor, also thinks the city's on the wrong path. He said he considered running for mayor again but decided he was "too old" so he's throwing his considerable political weight behind Moulton.

"I had long discussions with Bob Moulton before I made a commitment that I was going to support him and throw it in big time," said Barrett. "I wanted someone I thought had the ability, the common sense and, most importantly, understood the average middle class of this city."  

Moulton has been in the middle of North Adams, literally, for decades in the family owned Moulton Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street. Picking up on the vision theme — and taking a jab at the current administration's North Adams 2030 master plan — Moulton's put a "2020" on his campaign signs.

It's also because the incumbent has left the city waiting — waiting for development of the Mohawk Theater, waiting for an economic development plan, waiting for a solar array and waiting for action on substandard housing. "We're still waiting," said Moulton.

"With me for mayor, there will be no master plan, there will be an action plan and I will walk the talk," he said, adding it was time for a new vision. "My vision will basic and simple, but it will be doable and it will set us on the road to recovery."

He vowed to add well-trained police to combat the recent rash of break-ins and violence and make the streets safe — and leave the policing up to them. "You will not see me at the scene of the crime talking to the news media, that's a job for the police director," said Moulton, referring to the mayor's run-in with TV media this week.

Moulton said he would replace a lost post in inspection services to fight blight and take an "aggressive stance in my dealings with these landlords"; take advantage of grants and tax credits the current administration hasn't; and create a city-run charter school for math and science in partnership with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

"We must start thinking outside the box if we are to improve our school system," he said, calling for a return to innovation and smaller class sizes. Money should not have been spent on the old Conte School but directly on the students' educational needs, he continued.

He pledged to create an economic strategy with the aid of former mayors and administrators, and business leaders, people "who have been in the fray," and to revive momentum he says has been lost in the downtown.

Five years ago, he said, condominiums were selling in the downtown for excess of $300,000 and 85 Main was being transformed into high-end housing, but all that's on hold. Moulton claimed the administration is spending "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on an urban renewal plan behind closed doors. He, on the other hand, would dig up the 1995 Hyatt-Palma report and use its recommendations for the downtown.

The key is to revitalize Eagle Street and restore its historic buildings (and maybe that boutique hotel idea that's been kicking around for years) and, more importantly, get the Mohawk completed and programming in it to draw the crowds from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

"That's how you do it, it's not rocket science," said Moulton.

The next step, he said, is tell residents they were wanted in this campaign by knocking on doors in every neighborhood over the next seven weeks.

"I'm up for this job and I want very much to be your mayor," Moulton said.
 

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North Adams Sees Races for Mayor, Council

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau waits for any final candidates to return nomination papers on Tuesday.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly more than half the City Council will turn over in this year's municipal elections.

Among the names missing from the ballot will be Council President Michael Bloom, Alan Marden and Marie Harpin — all of whom have served for at least two decades. Also missing is another veteran of city politics, John Barrett III, who served only two years on the council but 26 as mayor.

Three potential candidates had taken out papers to challenge Mayor Richard Alcombright but only one had returned them by Tuesday: Robert R. Moulton Jr.

Not returning papers are Richard David Greene, who had been handing out his campaign stance while collecting signatures, and former mayoral candidate Ronald A. Boucher. Greene is reportedly running a write-in campaign.

"We've been friends for 50 years, I still consider him a friend and he comes from a great family," said Alcombright of his opponent. "Rob was right with me at my announcement four years ago but we've had our differences."

Alcombright said Moulton had described their positions as "far apart," how far apart to be debated this campaign season. "I'm looking forward to raising these issues with him," he said. "It should be a good and friendly campaign."

Moulton agreed, saying "we're friends with different points of view ... We'll let the people decide."

"I'm looking forward to the campaign, I'm sure there are a lot of good issues we'll be debating, some different views on the way the city should be run," he said. "It should be very entertaining and I think it will be good for the city."

There are 15 14 13 12 candidates for the nine at-large City Council seats, although three still need signatures to be certified: incumbents Lisa Blackmer and David A. Bond, and newcomer Kate Hanley Merrigan. (David Bond did not have enough certified signatures.)

"There are a lot of new people," said City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau, as the seconds counted down to the 5 p.m. deadline. "But we always have a big amount of people [for council]."

Newcomers on the ballot this year are Merrigan, David R. Robbins, Benjamin J. Lamb, Joshua J. Moran, *Anthony M. Sarkis Jr. and Michael Denault, as well as Planning Board member Wayne J. Wilkinson and previous council candidates Eric Buddington, Robert F. Cardimino and Michael J. Hernandez. (Michael Denault withdrew his candidacy on Aug. 19 because he is moving to Vermont.)

Incumbents returning papers were Blackmer, Bond, Keith Bona, Jennifer M. Breen and Nancy P. Bullett.

Edward Lacosse, Richard Lacosse Jr. and MaryAnn Benoit-Albee had informed Gomeau they would not be returning papers for council.

"I'm just really pleased to so many candidates, and a new younger field taking an interest in the city, and to see so many incumbents staying in," said the mayor. "It's sad to see Mike Bloom and Al Marden off the council because of the historical reference that they bring and their service to the city. They should be commended.

"Marie, her years of service not only on the council but through the BCAC and beyond, that just speaks volumes of her as a community leader. I wish them all well."

Alcombright said he commended "anybody for coming out now and being in public service ... it's not an easy thing to do."

Running for three seats on the School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton and newcomer Michele L. Vareschi. Stewart Burns did not return papers.

There is no race for McCann School Committee, with incumbents Paul A. Gigliotti and Gary F. Rivers running unopposed.

*Sarkis submitted a letter to the city clerk on Aug. 8 stating he was withdrawing because his professional business had to be a priority.

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Four Indicate Interest in North Adams Mayoral Run

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

Update on Aug. 2, 2013: The city could see a lively mayoral preliminary election if the four potential candidates all return papers.

Ronald Boucher, former City Council president who unsuccessfully challenged Richard Alcombright's re-election two years ago, took out nomination papers on Friday. He joins potential candidates Richard David Greene and Robert R. Moulton Jr., a fellow former councilor who backed Alcombright at his first election and Boucher two years ago.

So far the only candidate to return the required nomination papers is Alcombright, who will be running for a third two-year term. Three candidates would have to return papers for a preliminary election on Sept. 24.

Five more people have also taken out papers for City Council and six have returned papers to get on the ballot.

Robert F. Cardimino of East Quincy Street, David R. Robbins of Cady Street, Kate Hanley Merrigan of East Main Street, Benjamin J. Lamb of the Townhouses and Joshura Moran of Catherine Street took out nomination papers between last Thursday, July 29, and today, Friday.

Those five and Edward Lacosse, Richard Lacosse Jr., MaryAnn C. Benoit-Albee, Eric Buddington and incumbent David Bond have not returned papers.

Incumbents Jennifer M. Breen, Nancy P. Bullett and Keith J. Bona have all returned papers; Anthony M. Sarkis Jr., Wayne J. Wilkinson and Michael Hernandez will also be on the ballot.

Incumbents who not taken out papers so far are John Barrett III, Michael Bloom, Marie Harpin and Alan Marden.

If all the potential candidates so far return papers by the Tuesday deadline, there will be 17 names on the ballot.

Taking out papers for North Adams School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton, and newcomers Michele L. Vareschi of E Street and Stewart Burns of Holbrook Street. None of the potential candidates had returned papers as of Friday.

Both Gary F. Rivers and Paul A. Gigliotti have returned papers for McCann School Committee. The incumbents will run unopposed for the two seats.

The deadline to submit papers with the required 50 signatures by registered voters 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
 


So far, three candidates have indicated interest in running for mayor and a dozen for City Council.

 

Original post: July 26, 2013; 7:22 p.m.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — With less than two weeks to the nomination deadline, three people have taken out papers for mayor and 12 for City Council.

The deadline to submit nomination papers with the signatures of 50 registered North Adams voters is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Papers are still available in the city clerk's office.

Mayor Richard J. Alcombright has already indicated his intention to run for a third two-year term and took out papers on June 24. Also taking out papers were Richard D. Greene of 611 State Road, Holy Family Terrace, and Robert R. Moulton Jr., a former city councilor, of 985 Massachusetts Ave., on July 24 and 25, respectively.

None of the mayoral candidates have yet returned papers.

City Council incumbents who have taken out papers include Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, David Bond, Jennifer Breen and Nancy Bullett. As of Friday afternoon, incumbents John Barrett III, President Michael Bloom, Marie Harpin and Alan Marden had not.  

Past council candidates computer programmer and musician Eric R. Buddington of 23 Warren St. and real estate agent Michael J. Hernandez of 160 Eagle St. have taken out papers, as has Planning Board member and Mobile Home Park Rent Control Board Chairman Wayne J. Wilkinson of 120 Oak Hill. Papers were also taken out by Edward LaCosse of 98 Brayton Hill Terrace and Richard LaCosse Jr. of 85 Brayton Hill Terrace; they were the first to pull papers for election, both on May 1. Also in the mix are frequent council attendee MaryAnn C. Benoit-Albee of 16 Rand St. and business consultant Anthony M. Sarkis Jr. of 453 Walnut St.  

Of the council candidates, only Breen and Hernandez had returned signatures, although they had not yet been accepted.

All council seats are at large with the nine highest vote-getters being elected.

Should all three (or potentially more) mayoral candidates return papers, there will be a preliminary election, as occurred in 2011, to narrow the field to two. There are currently 12 people indicating interest in a council run; 19 would be required for a council preliminary election.

There are three seats up for election for School Committee, currently held by Heather P. Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark Moulton; and two seats on the McCann School Committee, Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers, both of whom have reportedly pulled papers.

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North Adams General Election Set for Nov. 5

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Nomination papers for mayor, City Council and school committees are available in the city clerks office for the municipal election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The deadline to submit nomination papers for signature certification is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the city clerk's office.

Fifty signatures of registered voters are required to get on the ballot for any of the municipal offices up for election, including mayor.

The nine highest vote-getters for City Council will be elected. There are also two seats up for election for School Committee and for the Northern Berkshire Regional School Committee (McCann).

Any preliminary election would be held on Tuesday, Sept. 24. This would occur if there are more than two candidates for mayor or

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES

  • Last day to register to vote for Primary Election: Wednesday, Sept. 4
  • Last day to register to vote for General Election: Wednesday, Oct. 16


ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION DEADLINES

  • Monday, Sept. 23, by noon
  • Monday, Nov. 4, by noon


CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS DUE

  • Report 1: Sept. 20 by 5 p.m.
  • Report 2: Oct. 31 by 5 p.m.
  • Report 3: Jan. 20, 2014, by 5 p.m.
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