Alcombright Wins Second Term as Mayor
Mayor Richard Alcombright gives the crowd a thumbs-up before his victory speech at campaign headquarters on Main Street.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Incumbent Richard Alcombright fended off a strong challenge by City Council President Ronald Boucher to earn a second term in the corner office with a "spectacular" victory.
Alcombright wound up the race with 2,333 votes to Boucher's 1,377, nearly the same margin he won by two years ago. The turn out wasn't as high but still clocked in at an impressive 42 percent according to unofficial results.
"It resonated today that what we're doing is good, what we're doing is right and I think the majority of the people said that today," said Alcombright, moments after finding out he'd won.
The former councilor took the helm of the city two years ago after ousting longtime mayor John Barrett III, who himself won a City Council seat in this election.
Surrounded by green-clad, cheering supporters, Alcombright thanked voters and others for giving him another term.
"Two years ago, we ran a people-powered campaign that will long be remembered in this city and tonight after two years, after facing down some of the most difficult finanical and economic times in our nation's history, I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me to do what's right for our city," he said, standing on the stage at the former Petrino's Cafe on Main Street.
The faces were far more sober at the American Legion, where the red-shirted supporters of Boucher had gathered with hopes of a victory party.
Supporters lined up to congratulate the winner.
"I think we were a little bit too late at the end," said Boucher. "I think we had a strong last two weeks, I think that first debate hurt me a little bit; the second debate helped us ... I just believe the voters spoke tonight and they're happy with the administration, the way the city's moving and I respect that."
He asked the mayor to listen to the residents "because the people are hurting and don't forget them that's all, they're all important."
The six-term councilor said he'd been considering since last year not running again but was attracted by the idea of running for mayor. He didn't start his campaign until late in the summer, but spent that short time attacking what he saw as Alcombright's failed campaign promises. If anything, he exhibited a more aggressive style of leadership than the incumbent's pledges to "keep plugging along."
Alcombright's had some ups and downs over his short tenure as he's grappled with the city's financial woes. He's made progress in stabilizing North Adams' fiscal health and in developing fruitful relationships with surrounding communities. But he stumbled on the controversial Proposition 2 1/2 override and on the Sullivan School project, both of which Boucher called him to task on.
A preliminary election in September, despite the voting difficulties, indicated that Alcombright was going to be tough to defeat and his campaign motto of "progress" were hitting hom.
Despite their opposing views, they were friends on the council and friendly during the campaign. A crowd of supporters for both roared their approval on election eve as the candidates walked into the Main Street intersection to shake hands after a standout.
"We've been friends a long time," said Alcombright. "We ran a race on the issues."
Boucher said he'd told Alcombright he and his supporters "will continue to help progress North Adams."
The mayor said he'll get back to work at 8 a.m. on Wednesday while Boucher, a sales executive for EcoLab, will serve out his term as council president and on the Hoosac Water Quality District. He didn't rule out running for office again but said he'll take a break for now.
"I spent 12 years giving to the community and it thought I'd give it a shot," he said of the mayor's race. "I'm happy with everything. I would have loved to have won but it wasn't the most important thing." Rather, he said, it ensuring residents were listened to.
Alcombright supporter Richard Taskin called the victory "spectacular."
"There are very few mayors in the United States of America under the current economic conditions who could have made the decisions that this man did who could be re-elected by the margin he won tonight," he said. "They trust this man, they trust him to do what's right."
Ronald Boucher, talking with one of his biggest supports Robert Cardimino, said he wanted the mayor to remember to listen to residents.
He estimated he'd shaken at least 2,000 hands of voters coming in and out the polling stations and had expected far better results than 11th.
All six incuments — Lisa Blackmer, David Bond (who received the most votes at 2,210), Michael Bloom, Alan Marden, Marie Harpin and Keith Bona — were re-elected. Joining them will be Barrett, Jennifer Breen-Kirsch and Nancy Bullett.
Mary Lou Accetta and Lawrence Taft were easily re-elected; joining them will be David Lamarre, currently a city councilor. George Canales, running unopposed, was re-elected to the McCann School Committee.
North Adams Election Results 2011
Downing, Bosley Endorse Blackmer for City Council
"Having worked with Lisa, I know her to be an independent thinking team player. Someone who researches the issues, comes to her own conclusion and works with her colleagues, at all levels of government to see the solution through. She's been a great partner & advocate for the city and I know, if given the opportunity, will continue to be."
Daniel Bosley, former state representative, added his endorsement. "Lisa Blackmer is one of the hardest-working city councilors I have known. She is at almost every event in the city and works hard for the people of North Adams. She does her homework and listens to what people say. I have worked with her on many issues and find her approach on issues is reasoned, intelligent, and thoughtful. I strongly endorse her candidacy."
"I would like to thank Ben and Dan for their support," Blackmer said. "I respect the work that they continue to do in the city and county. These endorsements add to the forward momentum for my City Council campaign and I look forward to working with them to address the issues facing our great city."
Blackmer, the council vice president, is seeking re-election to her third term on the city council. She has served on numerous city and regional organizations such as the Northern Berkshire Food Festival, Berkshire Food Project, Fall Foliage Parade and Festival committees, and the North Adams Open Studios Committee. She has worked in many different capacities for businesses of all sizes. She is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a degree in business administration and is continuing her studies at Westfield State University.
Council Candidate Chaput: Vote for the Future
At MCLA, I am studying political science, economics, American history, and family studies. I came to North Adams from my hometown of Dracut. Immediately, I fell in love with the city and became engaged in its endless possibilities.
In my years at MCLA, I have volunteered and worked (more the former than the latter) in the community and learned the importance of shopping locally. I have spent time lobbying our representatives, collecting goods for local charities, and connecting with local youth. This past summer, I rented an apartment in North Adams and got an unpaid internship in Mayor Alcombright's office instead of living with my parents in Leominster. North Adams is now my home.
I worked in the mayor's office all summer, going through files dating back to the 1960s and current files. I compiled both budgets and all council packets. I took this time to thoroughly understand the process of city governance.
Like the majority of cities in the world at this point, the biggest problem facing North Adams is our economy. We need to tackle this by creating new and innovative sources of revenue, consolidating costs, cutting unnecessary expenses (regardless of how small), taking advantage of assets in the community (MCLA) and rebuilding reserves.
I can provide a perspective to the City Council that it has never had. I have my future in mind of the next 70 years. I have the insight from living in various places in the state. I have the fresh education from well-traveled and experienced professors with the most up-to-date information on the most pressing issues our society faces.
I understand that MCLA has administrative representation in city governance, but if we want to retain more of the hundreds of graduates as citizens of North Adams, we need a student perspective. The community needs to take students seriously as potential lifelong citizens of North Adams. It happens in other cities, why not North Adams?
Another huge problem facing our society, including North Adams, is our lack of understanding of how the system works. Our City Council should be spending more time explaining what is going on and why. The council is elected to represent the citizens and cannot properly do so if they are left in the dark.
I apologize for the lack of publicity but as I said, I am a junior at a state school. My peers and I have enough income to survive, not enough to spend on bumper stickers, balloons, Web advertisments, and fancy lawn signs. I have been getting my voice heard at community meetings to get publicity instead. If you want someone who is used to working with a low budget, as a broke college student, paying for my education by myself, I'm pretty good.
If you'd like to talk or volunteer, please email me at email@example.com
I am the future of North Adams and I would like your vote on Tuesday.