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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Richard J. Alcombright: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Incumbent City Council candidate Richard J. Alcombright
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

North Adams – Richard J. Alcombright, 51, of 40 Williams St., said that as a city councilor, he doesn’t categorize issues as “big” or “small.”

Resident concerns about biting dogs and pesky potholes are as significant as development proposals and budget issues, Alcombright said during a Sept. 30 interview.

“People do want to live in a community where they don’t have to worry about a snarling dog biting them,” Alcombright said. “They want to live in a community where they feel safe and secure.”

And while issues such as potholes may seem like minutia to some folks, Alcombright noted that the matter is not at all trivial to the person who backs out of a driveway and into a gaping pavement gouge every day.

Alcombright is among eight incumbent councilors and seven challengers vying for nine city council seats during a Nov. 8 city election. City Councilor William Donovan announced in September that he will be moving from the city and is no longer seeking reelection to the council.

Alcombright is seeking his second elected two-year council term. He was appointed to the council mid-term following the death of his father, long-time City Councilor Daniel Alcombright. Richard Alcombright was subsequently elected in 2003.

Alcombright is vice-president of retail banking at the Hoosac Bank and is a 13-year elected member of the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District School Committee, which governs the Charles H. McCann Technical High School. Alcombright has been active with numerous non-profit agencies and is a city native.

“I’ve had a keen interest in city affairs for years and years,” Alcombright said. “I think I have the ability to help.”

His ability comes from financial expertise and knowledge of the education system, he said, as well as having spent over 30 years working in the city’s downtown.

"More of the Same"

The city must strive for continued development, Alcombright said.

“We’ve come a long way in the past 10 years,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like ‘more of the same,’ but I do think ‘more of the same.’ We need to continue to grow. I think we need to grow in bits and pieces. I don’t think we have the opportunity to grow in leaps and bounds.”

“Bits and pieces” development must be properly managed, he noted.
Development potential exists along the “Route 8 corridor” and at the K-mart plaza, Alcombright said.

The arts community has generated city growth over recent years, and “is a very big piece of the puzzle,” Alcombright said.

“Places like MASS MoCA [Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art] are attracting small technology companies,” Alcombright said.

The arts alone aren’t enough to bring about full city revitalization, he said.

“I think, quite honestly, now we need to be looking at other things,” he said. “Our economy needs to be broad-based.”

The city may need to “nickel-and-dime it,” he said, and work to attract small companies that employ 10-15 employees and offer competitive wages.

“I don’t think that our future revolves around large employers,” he said.

The Big Picture

The city council members and city Mayor John Barrett III are working diligently to draw more traffic to the downtown, Alcombright said.

One possible strategy involves creating housing in the downtown area using existing vacant buildings, he said. Establishing housing would mean drawing people to the heart of the city, and businesses would benefit; the result would be a “vibrant downtown,” Alcombright said.

The current city council members bring differing areas of knowledge to the table, Alcombright said.

“We all have to focus, to look at the big picture,” he said. “We all have our niche. I certainly think that what I have to offer is in the way of fiscal management. I can’t over-emphasize that councilors have to look at the broad picture and I don’t think a councilor can have a ‘pet project.’”

Alcombright is the chairman of the city’s Finance Committee.
He is married to Michelle Alcombright, and the couple has four children.

"I Am Committed"

Alcombright said he believes that the city council is strong and effective, and the councilors respond to the needs of the city, the residents, and businesses.

“We just reacted very well to a taxi [fare] increase,” he said. “We kind of stopped the meeting to put something together.”

And in consideration of resident needs, the $1 increase, which was granted due to the summer's rapid and repeated vehicle fuel price hikes, was approved with a caveat: a city council review in six months, Alcombright noted.

Alcombright’s long-term city vision includes “ no smoke stacks, no polluted rivers, and a vibrant, bustling Main Street” hosting a diverse population enjoying resources and employment, he said. He is also interested in generating college student involvement in the downtown.

Enthusiasm for the city is growing, he said.

“People are coming here who are excited to be here, and people who are leading are excited to be leading,” Alcombright said.

Alcombright said that he is among those who are excited about the city, its’ progress, and its’ potential.

“If anyone comes away with anything from this interview, it’s commitment,” Alcombright said. “I’m incredibly committed to the community. I’ve seen it up here, I’ve seen it down there, and I am committed to this community and its’ success at every aspect.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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