Thomas Bernard, left, and Robert Moulton Jr. are vying for the corner office in North Adams on Tuesday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voters head to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new government for the city of North Adams.
No matter the outcome, North Adams will have a new mayor and, at minimum, four new city councilors.
Robert Moulton Jr. and Thomas Bernard are vying for a two-year term in the corner office. With Mayor Richard Alcombright deciding to step down, this the first time in 34 years that no incumbent has stood for election.
Moulton is a five-time councilor and city native who ran unsuccessfully against Alcombright four years ago. The local businessman has presented himself as a champion of the city's working class who have felt left behind by the city's transformation as a cultural destination. He's criticized the two major anchor institutions — Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts — as not doing enough and calls for studies of privatizing the water treatment plant again and looking at call or volunteer Fire Department to save on costs.
A longtime member and president of the North Adams Ambulance Service, Moulton's also pushing for better use of police officers to combat the high rate of crime that's being reported and put high school students' dress at the center of raising educational standards.
Bernard was raised in North Adams and graduated from Williams College and holds a master of public administration from Westfield State University. This is his first time running for elected office and he's promoting his experience in management and oversight of multimillion budgets at Mass MoCA, MCLA and, in his current post, as director of special projects at Smith College.
A founding member of North Adams DNA and its successor, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, Bernard said he's looking for a "pragmatic collaborative" approach to working with the city's anchors and new developers to improve the economy. That includes hiring some type of business development director to help pitch the city to investors and support businesses. He'd alos put together a committee to prioritize action against blight. He says educational standards should focus on attendance and academics, not what students wear.
There are 16 candidates running for the nine at-large seats on the City Council. Five of these are incumbents and 11 are newcomers who have never run for office before.
Keith Bona is the veteran of the council with four consecutive terms under his belt after serving on several terms back in the 1990s. If elected he will be the only councilor with more than four years experience. Bona is a local business owner and has served on all the council's committees.
Eric Buddington, Benjamin B. Lamb and Joshua Moran are all vying for their third terms. Lamb is currrently president of the council and has been involved with a number of local initiatives, including the Small Busines Revolution competition and next year's NAMAZing Eagle Street Initiative. Buddington has pushed for more transparency in local government (creating an ordinance on meeting minutes) and hopes to parlay his expertise on the internet to the benefit of the city. Moran has been a booster of the city's natural resources and spearheaded its designation as an Appalachian Trail Community.
Also running as an incumbent is Wayne Wilkinson, who lost his seat in the 2015 election but was returned to the council in June to fill the seat of Nancy Bullett, who resigned. Wilkinson has a long history on the Planning Board and in real estate, and pushed through an ordinance retaining non-conforming commercial properties.
Roger J. Eurbin ran a last-minute write-in campaign two years but this year is on the ballot. Navy veteran and MCLA graduate, he is a member of the Cemetery Commission and initiated the Hill Side Cemetery project.
Rebbecca A. Cohen, an MCLA graduate, works in human resources for her family businesses Tunnel City Transport and Cariddi Auto Agency. She has also worked in education and finance and has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus. Also endorsed by the Woman's Caucus is Marie T. Harpin, whose mother (with the same name) served on the City Council for many years. She holds an MBA from MCLA and has years of experience in finance she believes will benefit the city.
Sixteen candidates are running for the nine seats on the City Council.
Paul Hopkins has served on the Planning Board and Redevelopment Authority for more than 20 years. He worked for the former WMNB radio station and later as spokesman for North Adams Regional Hospital; he currently is communications coordinator for Berkshire Healthcare Systems. Keifer Gammell is a graduate of MCLA and has been visitor services manager at Mass MoCA for six years. He is a member of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce.
Jason M. LaForest is a registered nurse at Williamstown Commons, said he's cognizant of both the need for health care access in the city and the burden on taxpayers. He's been endorsed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Scott Orr, a manager at the Walmart Supercent, is originally from Arkansas but has made North Adams his home. He said he wants to create a safe and prosperous city for his son to grow up in.
Bryan A. Sapienza, parts manager for K-M Toyota, said he had a desire to ensure the city continues to move forward and believes his technical background will give him a different perspective on issues. Ashley Marie Shade is a city native who holds a a degree in culinary and masters in finance and political science. Her focus is on economic development and working to bring jobs and investment to the city.
Clarise R. Vanderburgh, Drury High School graduate, believes her long experience in banking industry, including as teller supervisor at Berkshire Bank, will be beneficial in municipal budgeting and wants to do what's best for the city. H. Merle Knight, who moved to the city five years ago, has degrees in linguistics and cited her professional background in private investigations and public safety and security as experience the council could use.
There are also three candidates for the three open seats on the School Committee. They are Heather Boulger, Raya Kirby and Ian Bergeron. James Holmes, a recently retired school teacher, also is on the ballot but said he cannot serve for personal reasons. It was too late to withdraw his name from the ballot.
Boulger has served since 1998 and has been vice chairman for 18 years. She is the executive director of the Berkshire County Employment Board and holds masters in business administration and education. She is most proud of the school renovations/construction of Colegrove, Drury and Brayton during her tenure and the educators in the school system.
Kirby was raised in North Adams and returned to the city a decade ago. She and her husband have two young girls, with the older girl attending the Greylock School preschool. Kirby was first an educator and now is an intensive care coordinator at the Brien Center. She says the socioeconomic pressures on the city's children need to be addressed for them to be successful.
Bergeron is a graduate of MCLA and now director of informat technology systems at MCLA. He also worked in the superintendent's office for three years as IT coordinator. His wife works at Drury High and they have young children in the school system. Bergeron said he's very passionate about the public school system.
The Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational School District has two incumbents running unopposed: Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers.
There's also a special state election to fill the seat of the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi. John Barrett III, former North Adams mayor, won the Democratic primary to face off against Republican candidate Christine Canning. The winner will finish out the final year of Cariddi's term.
Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center. The special election for state representative will also be held at those hours in Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford and Williamstown.
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