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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Peter D. May: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, October 15, 2005

City Council challenger Peter D. May
North Adams- Peter D. May, 52, of 119 Summit Ave., said he believes in a government that is inclusive of citizens.

“I believe in more openness in government, more transparency in government,” May said during an Oct. 14 interview. “I believe in government of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

May is among eight incumbent city 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.

May is a doctor of chiropractic medicine and has established a chiropractic treatment facility on Church Street at the corner of Church and Summer streets. He is married to Barbara May, who operates the Tangiers shop on Main Street. May and his wife have three adult children who attended the city’s public schools.

May said that he moved to the city in 1987 after hearing about plans to establish the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the city.

Getting Involved

He decided to seek election to the council because of concerns about all levels government and his belief that people should become active and involved.

“I was driven by the national scene,” May said. “I feel like our government is broken from the top down. I’m a victim of my own letter-writing; I’ve said now is the time for people to get involved.”

National issues directly impact the city, May said.

“North Adams does not operate in a vacuum and all these things affect the city,” he said. “It’s about more than snowplowing and potholes.”

He has not held elected office previously and said that he’s been researching the role of a city councilor and the authority of the city council in the city. May said that he is interested in understanding how the council functions and why some ideas for development and growth are dismissed while others are welcomed and implemented.

"Coming With Questions"

“I’m not coming with answers, I’m coming with questions,” May said. “I have met with four city councilors, the present and former city clerks, the director of the Clark [Clark Art Institute in Williamstown] and the director of MoCA. Some of my calls haven’t been returned.”

May said he was unable to schedule a meeting with city Mayor John Barrett III.

“I have to figure out what the council can do by design of the [city] charter and by the design of the mayor,” May said. “I’m going out and asking questions. I’ve never been a city councilor and I don’t know the power of the job. I do think they [city councilors] lack vision.”

May said that he believes the council acts in a legislative capacity and that much of their work is “cut and dried.”

“But on some issues, there are not enough questions, not enough discussion,” May said. “It begs the question why not, it begs the question what are people afraid of and it begs the question are the fears founded.”

May said that he would like to see individual meetings with the residents of the city’s voting precincts.

“Let’s talk to people, let’s ask ‘what do you want?,’” May said.

He has been circulating a survey throughout the city and there has been a response, May said.

Survey

May provided a blank copy of a two-sided questionnaire titled “Downtown Survey.” On one side, respondents are asked to answer four questions: “What are North Adams greatest assets/advantages?,” “What are North Adams greatest liabilities/disadvantages?,” “What is keeping stores off our main street?,” and “What is keeping people from our downtown?.”

Respondents may write their own thoughts or choose from a selection of 15 pre-printed answers that include responses such as “accessibility,” “the workforce,” “the mayor,” “the landlords,” “Wal-mart,” and “the natural beauty.”

The surveys do not ask participants to identify themselves or their place of residence.

The reverse side asks respondents to answer a four-part question “What do you think would most help the downtown; bringing foot-traffic/shoppers, help the existing stores survive, and invite new stores to open?”

A 14-item checklist is provided and includes responses such as “close Eagle Street to traffic to create a walking mall,” “put artwork/sculptures in the downtown to attract tourists from MoCA,” “create a simple point by point plan/manual to invite and assist prospective store owners to open businesses in North Adams,” and “metered parking more than one hour.”

Survey participants may select as many responses as they wish, according to the survey instructions. The survey also asks for other downtown improvement ideas, and “What, if anything, is keeping ideas such as these from being implemented?”

The survey concludes by asking “Are you happy with the way current City Government is running? Explain why in either case.”

May produced several completed surveys, which he said came from survey participants.

Among the choices May said secured support were Main Street benches, extended parking meter times, creating a walking mall on Eagle Street, and creating a downtown green at Colgrove Park.

“If these ideas have support, why aren’t they happening?” May asked. “Where are they bottlenecking? It’s not about new ideas, it’s about the old ideas that have never been implemented.”

It’s those questions and similar queries that generated his interest in serving on the council, May said.

Perspective

“I’m not seeking election to the council to be contentious,” May said. “This is not about finding fault with the City Council. It’s about looking at old and new issues with a fresh perspective. As a chiropractor, I’m used to looking at things with a fresh perspective and getting excellent results.”

May said that if elected, he will be accessible to city residents.

“It’s all about servicing the residents of North Adams,” he said. “I’d like people to unite and demand more from their local, state, and national government. It really is more than snowplowing and barking dogs.”

May acknowledged that a neighbor’s barking dog may cause sleep disruption and offered a suggestion for those facing nighttime distractions.

“You might want to stay up at night wondering about health care and about state and national infrastructure.”

Peter May chose to forgo a video interview.

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