By Tammy Daniels On: 10:36PM / Tuesday November 08, 2011
Mayor Richard Alcombright gives the crowd a thumbs-up before his victory speech at campaign headquarters on Main Street.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Incumbent Richard Alcombright fended off a strong challenge by City Council President Ronald Boucher to earn a second term in the corner office with a "spectacular" victory.
Alcombright wound up the race with 2,333 votes to Boucher's 1,377, nearly the same margin he won by two years ago. The turn out wasn't as high but still clocked in at an impressive 42 percent according to unofficial results.
"It resonated today that what we're doing is good, what we're doing is right and I think the majority of the people said that today," said Alcombright, moments after finding out he'd won.
The former councilor took the helm of the city two years ago after ousting longtime mayor John Barrett III, who himself won a City Council seat in this election.
Surrounded by green-clad, cheering supporters, Alcombright thanked voters and others for giving him another term.
"Two years ago, we ran a people-powered campaign that will long be remembered in this city and tonight after two years, after facing down some of the most difficult finanical and economic times in our nation's history, I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me to do what's right for our city," he said, standing on the stage at the former Petrino's Cafe on Main Street.
The faces were far more sober at the American Legion, where the red-shirted supporters of Boucher had gathered with hopes of a victory party.
Supporters lined up to congratulate the winner.
Boucher's "Back to Basics" slogan that came with vows to lowering taxes and lure investment had seemed to strike a chord. Both polling places were heavy with Boucher signs during the day.
"I think we were a little bit too late at the end," said Boucher. "I think we had a strong last two weeks, I think that first debate hurt me a little bit; the second debate helped us ... I just believe the voters spoke tonight and they're happy with the administration, the way the city's moving and I respect that."
He asked the mayor to listen to the residents "because the people are hurting and don't forget them that's all, they're all important."
The six-term councilor said he'd been considering since last year not running again but was attracted by the idea of running for mayor. He didn't start his campaign until late in the summer, but spent that short time attacking what he saw as Alcombright's failed campaign promises. If anything, he exhibited a more aggressive style of leadership than the incumbent's pledges to "keep plugging along."
Alcombright's had some ups and downs over his short tenure as he's grappled with the city's financial woes. He's made progress in stabilizing North Adams' fiscal health and in developing fruitful relationships with surrounding communities. But he stumbled on the controversial Proposition 2 1/2 override and on the Sullivan School project, both of which Boucher called him to task on.
A preliminary election in September, despite the voting difficulties, indicated that Alcombright was going to be tough to defeat and his campaign motto of "progress" were hitting hom.
Despite their opposing views, they were friends on the council and friendly during the campaign. A crowd of supporters for both roared their approval on election eve as the candidates walked into the Main Street intersection to shake hands after a standout.
"We've been friends a long time," said Alcombright. "We ran a race on the issues."
Boucher said he'd told Alcombright he and his supporters "will continue to help progress North Adams."
The mayor said he'll get back to work at 8 a.m. on Wednesday while Boucher, a sales executive for EcoLab, will serve out his term as council president and on the Hoosac Water Quality District. He didn't rule out running for office again but said he'll take a break for now.
"I spent 12 years giving to the community and it thought I'd give it a shot," he said of the mayor's race. "I'm happy with everything. I would have loved to have won but it wasn't the most important thing." Rather, he said, it ensuring residents were listened to.
Alcombright supporter Richard Taskin called the victory "spectacular."
"There are very few mayors in the United States of America under the current economic conditions who could have made the decisions that this man did who could be re-elected by the margin he won tonight," he said. "They trust this man, they trust him to do what's right."
Ronald Boucher, talking with one of his biggest supports Robert Cardimino, said he wanted the mayor to remember to listen to residents.
But Boucher supporter Robert Cardimino said he was calling it quits and not going to anymore City Council meetings. "They're not going to have Cardimino to kick around anymore," said the disappointed council candidate.
He estimated he'd shaken at least 2,000 hands of voters coming in and out the polling stations and had expected far better results than 11th.
All six incuments — Lisa Blackmer, David Bond (who received the most votes at 2,210), Michael Bloom, Alan Marden, Marie Harpin and Keith Bona — were re-elected. Joining them will be Barrett, Jennifer Breen-Kirsch and Nancy Bullett.
Mary Lou Accetta and Lawrence Taft were easily re-elected; joining them will be David Lamarre, currently a city councilor. George Canales, running unopposed, was re-elected to the McCann School Committee.
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Congratulations to Mayor Alcombright. It was a wonderful night for the Mayor and his supporters.
There is much more openness in our City and more residents stepping up to the plate to do their share. I look forward to the continued revitalization of our community. Let's continue to move FORWARD with our great leader.
Thank goodness we have Mayor Alcombright to help balance the JB3, Harpin and other old guard members of City Council. Having the previous dictator back in city government, all I can say is at least he doesn't have the same power he used to. He will probably be a thorn in the mayor's side though. Without Mr. Cardimino at the meetings, they should be much shorter, although not as entertaining.
Let us hope and pray that JB3 will assume the role of helpful elder statesman and not be the confrontational micro-manager of old. Believe it or not, some people can change, especially those who wish to.
It's not DirecTV... it's GreaTV when we get to see Barrett collide with Breen, Bona and Bond. They couldn't be farther apart politically and personally, and I predict a lot of wonderful battles lay ahead for the next two years. I wonder, will any of the re-elected or new councilors remind Mr. Barrett, when he does begin to pontificate, that it was he, for 24 years, who muzzled the council as much as he could, proclaiming the wonders of the Strong Mayor form of government? Keep your remote handy.
Boy you sound like a really concerned person for the people of North Adams. How about the councilors and mayor try working together to make North Adams a little less of a dump than it already is? They and you should all put their ego's aside and get to work, North Adams is embarrassing to the rest of the Berkshires nobody should be pontificating. Simply put their heads down and get to work, you will have to find some other controversy to watch like Springer or Occupy Wall Street footage.
In the Transcript on August 9,2011, Barrett said "if elected, he'll only serve a single term on the council". I hope so. He never let any of the councilors do anything, make any suggestions, and over-ruled all that happened for 26 years while he was mayor. We don't need him. He is poison for this city.
Clarksburg: Election, May 27; town meeting, May 28
Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
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