Mayoral Candidate Moulton Has Action Plan for North Adams
Mayoral candidate Bob Moulton and his 'supermom' Carolyn Moulton. Moulton said the support of his family, including his children and wife, Bonny, were most important to him.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Robert M. Moulton Jr. laid out the themes his mayoral campaign will hammer on going into the November election: finances, economic development, public safety and schools.
"I want the people of North Adams to be proud of the city again, I want them to have a mayor who will not be out of touch with them, and they will have a government that is there to help them," the former city councilor vowed as some 100 friends, family and supporters clad in red "Bob for Mayor" shirts applauded at the American Legion on Friday night.
The three-term councilor said he decided to run for mayor because "I believe North Adams is headed in the wrong direction."
Moulton took aim at incumbent Richard Alcombright, who is running for a third term, saying he had failed to follow through with his campaign pledges of the past four years.
The administration's failures "are the direct result of misguided priorities and broken promises," said Moulton, claiming that Yankee Magazine had once described the city as a "hidden jewel," but "after nearly four years of indecisive leadership, the jewel has lost its luster."
Many of the charges that Moulton fired at his longtime friend were repeats of former Councilor Ronald Boucher's campaign two years ago, including that Alcombright had cried poverty while handing some $700,000 in raises to the school system, that his administration has been far less transparent than he says and that he has failed financially.
Moulton had been a strong supporter of Boucher, as he had supported Alcombright in his first run. This time it's topsy-turvy, with the man Moulton helped Alcombright beat in 2009, now going all out to get Moulton elected.
"Bob Moulton's my candidate for mayor," declared former Mayor John Barrett III, in introducing Moulton. Barrett, currently a city councilor, also thinks the city's on the wrong path. He said he considered running for mayor again but decided he was "too old" so he's throwing his considerable political weight behind Moulton.
"I had long discussions with Bob Moulton before I made a commitment that I was going to support him and throw it in big time," said Barrett. "I wanted someone I thought had the ability, the common sense and, most importantly, understood the average middle class of this city."
Moulton has been in the middle of North Adams, literally, for decades in the family owned Moulton Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street. Picking up on the vision theme — and taking a jab at the current administration's North Adams 2030 master plan — Moulton's put a "2020" on his campaign signs.
It's also because the incumbent has left the city waiting — waiting for development of the Mohawk Theater, waiting for an economic development plan, waiting for a solar array and waiting for action on substandard housing. "We're still waiting," said Moulton.
"With me for mayor, there will be no master plan, there will be an action plan and I will walk the talk," he said, adding it was time for a new vision. "My vision will basic and simple, but it will be doable and it will set us on the road to recovery."
He vowed to add well-trained police to combat the recent rash of break-ins and violence and make the streets safe — and leave the policing up to them. "You will not see me at the scene of the crime talking to the news media, that's a job for the police director," said Moulton, referring to the mayor's run-in with TV media this week.
Moulton said he would replace a lost post in inspection services to fight blight and take an "aggressive stance in my dealings with these landlords"; take advantage of grants and tax credits the current administration hasn't; and create a city-run charter school for math and science in partnership with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"We must start thinking outside the box if we are to improve our school system," he said, calling for a return to innovation and smaller class sizes. Money should not have been spent on the old Conte School but directly on the students' educational needs, he continued.
He pledged to create an economic strategy with the aid of former mayors and administrators, and business leaders, people "who have been in the fray," and to revive momentum he says has been lost in the downtown.
Five years ago, he said, condominiums were selling in the downtown for excess of $300,000 and 85 Main was being transformed into high-end housing, but all that's on hold. Moulton claimed the administration is spending "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on an urban renewal plan behind closed doors. He, on the other hand, would dig up the 1995 Hyatt-Palma report and use its recommendations for the downtown.
The key is to revitalize Eagle Street and restore its historic buildings (and maybe that boutique hotel idea that's been kicking around for years) and, more importantly, get the Mohawk completed and programming in it to draw the crowds from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
"That's how you do it, it's not rocket science," said Moulton.
The next step, he said, is tell residents they were wanted in this campaign by knocking on doors in every neighborhood over the next seven weeks.
"I'm up for this job and I want very much to be your mayor," Moulton said.