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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

North Adams Election: The Day After

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Voters cast ballots at North Adams Ward 1 polling place during a Nov. 8 city election.
North Adams – The Nov. 8 city election didn’t break any voting records; 2,841 of the city’s 8,832 registered voters turned out at the city’s polling places to cast ballots.

Mayor John Barrett III was reelected to a 12th two-year term with 1,968 votes; challenger Walter L. Smith Jr. earned 474 votes. • See related story here

During a Nov. 8 evening celebration at the Steeples restaurant, Barrett said that launching the Mohawk Theater renovation project will remain a priority during the upcoming two years, and he is also eager to continue work at the Alcombright athletic field. City road improvements and sustaining a city that residents can afford to live in will remain on Barrett’s mayoral front burner, he said.

Speaking during the morning of Nov. 9, Smith said that he was pleased with his results at the polls. His campaign was very low-key and did not include a mayoral debate or campaign events, Smith said, and he noted that before he announced his candidacy in late July, he was not a well-known person in the city.

Not Quite a "Laughingstock"

“The initial idea was to give people a choice, and that is what I did,” Smith said. “For a low-key campaign, this was a solid result. I think we had a pretty good showing and I am not ashamed of it [election outcome] at all. It wasn’t quite the laughingstock some people thought it would be.”

Smith said that he intends to maintain an interest in city affairs and will likely ask questions about city matters or decisions.

“For the next two years, I’ll be a little thorn in Mayor Barrett’s side,” Smith said. “If I have questions, I will ask them. And if there seems to be a need for change in two years and nobody steps up, I could toss my hat in again. I am thinking about what might have happened if I had had a more active campaign.”

Smith is employed at the Curran Highway Wal-mart store and said that he will continue working at the store. He recently received a positive employee evaluation and a pay raise, he said.

“I’m pretty happy about that,” he said.

And Smith is happy about his campaign costs as well. “I spent $.88, and that doesn’t even count as a campaign expense because the $.88 was spent on pens I needed when I was taking out my [nomination] papers,” he said.

Cariddi Secures Write-in Votes


City Councilor Gailanne Cariddi, who was not a mayoral candidate, pulled in 101 mayoral write-in votes.
Write-in votes were cast during the election. City Councilor Gailanne Cariddi secured 101 write-in votes in the mayor’s race, said City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.

Gomeau said that in order for a write-in vote to be considered valid, the name written must represent an actual person. All write-in votes are counted and documented, she said, and added that if someone receives less than 10 write-in votes, the ballots are then deemed “blank.”

A person must receive a minimum of 10 write-in votes for the votes to be listed as “for” that person, she said. Cariddi was the only person in both the mayor and city council election to meet that requirement, Gomeau said.

Speaking on Nov. 9, Cariddi said that she had entered the election as a city council candidate and is looking forward to serving as a councilor for the next two years. The eight incumbent councilors were returned to the council; challenger Christopher Tremblay captured the ninth place council seat and will begin his first city council term after a January swearing-in ceremony.

Cariddi noted that, write-in votes or not, Barrett was the clear choice for the majority of voters who cast ballots.

“Even if you add 474 [Smith’s vote total] to 101, it doesn’t make a winner,” she said.

The city no longer deals with “unread ballots,” meaning ballots that passed through a voting machine without being counted, Gomeau said on Nov. 8.

An End to Unread Ballots

Any ballot that was marked incorrectly, such as “over-voted,” meaning too many choices were made, or marked with an “x” as opposed to filling in a designated voting space, was immediately returned by the voting machine. The voter was then told that their ballot was incorrect and offered a new ballot. Voters were offered three opportunities to deliver a correct ballot to the voting machine; ballots that were incorrect were collected and documented as “spoiled ballots,” Gomeau said.

“Blanks” were also part of the election; the mayor’s race generated 262 blanks, meaning the voter selected no candidate.

Smith said that he believes the low voter turn-out, his own voting results, the number of blanks in the mayor’s race, and the write-in votes for Cariddi indicate that there is a sense of dissatisfaction among city residents.

“I didn’t win,” he said. “But there is a message here and I hope it is heard. And I do believe that I accomplished something.”

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