By Tammy Daniels & John Durkan On: 02:30PM / Tuesday November 05, 2013
Mayor Richard Alcombright won a third term for mayor on Tuesday night.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright decisively won a third term on Tuesday night, calling for unity and saying it was "time to move this forward."
Alcombright polled 2,149 votes to challenger Robert M. Moulton Jr.'s 1,479, winning about 60 percent of ballots cast.
This election, even more than Alcombright's 2009 victory, was a changing of the old guard.
Along with returning the mayor to office, voters also swept a new, far younger slate of councilors into City Hall by large margins.
Kate Hanley Merrigan, 34, led the pack with 2,517 votes. The four incumbents running were also returned — Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer, Nancy Bullett and Jennifer Breen. Newcomers elected were Josh Moran, Benjamin Lamb, Wayne Wilkinson and Eric Buddington.
"I'm both proud and humbled to be elected to this third term," said Alcombright to cheering supporters, many clad in green, at Mediterra.
"Well, you always hope to win, we didn't win. We got the message out there. It doesn't resonate I guess with the voters. But we believed in it we were passionate about it," said Moulton, at a quieter gathering at the American Legion. "Dick's an awful nice fellow and we lost and he won and people get what they vote for and that's the American way and I can live with that."
Alcombright said he'd spoken with his longtime friend and hoped to get together with him in the coming months to see if they hash out some of their differences. He thank the former city councilor for running a great race, along with every candidate who had put themselves out for a chance to serve their city.
"It takes great courage to put yourself and your family into the public arena these days," he said.
Left out of the running for council were David Robbins, Robert Cardimino and Michael Hernandez. Returned to office were School Committee incumbents Heather Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark Moulton and McCann School Committee incumbents Paul A. Gigliotti and Gary F. Rivers.
But he wasn't holding back on who he thought his real opponent was: The last three elections have been "literally about John Barrett," whom he ousted from the corner office in 2009 and who has supported the last two mayoral challengers, Moulton very publicly.
"I have run each time against John Barrett and I have now beat him three times," he said to applause. "I'm hoping that three is the charm."
He called for an end to negativity and challenged residents "to pull the rope in the same direction, those of us in green, those of us red, and yes, those of us that are still in blue."
It was time to stop petty politics that slow things down, said Alcombright, saying that the city needed to grow to solve its financial situation.
"We've got to stop this, we've just got to stop this," he said afterward. "We have a community that wants to move forward. We've got a new young energetic council.
"It's time ... it's my time and it's our time to move this city forward."
"I think there are going to be some exciting projects and we don't have to worry about someone trying to knock it down," said Bona, who added that he thought running on negativity doesn't win elections — or aligning with city's longtime former mayor.
One of those new councilors, Moran, said he's looking forward to "positive discussions with people who don't necessarily agree" but who can work together to compromise.
"They might have their own avenue how to address an issue," he said, adding it was time to overcome the city's negativity. "It's going to be really fun to hear people say we want to go after that. ... That is our city and this is how we're going to do it."
Buddington, who squeaked into ninth place by 11 votes (unofficially) on this third council try, said he was thrilled to have a chance to represent citizens. "It's so gratifying to live in a city where everyone is pleasant and civil ... with some exceptions."
Moulton plans on keeping busy with his television show and his businesses and not to re-enter the public arena any time soon.
"It was a little hectic but I'll tell you I met a lot of great people and we got out there, going door to door, every weekend for the last five, six weeks," Moulton said. "We talked to literally hundreds of people and whether they were for us or against us everybody was courteous... and we got our issues out there, and people I never knew before that was a positive thing on this campaign."
Moulton said Alcombright will have a tough job in the upcoming term working with a depleted budget.
"He's going to have his plate full just like I knew I would have my plate full."
The mayor said as much, and that he'd been upfront on addressing the city's financial woes and crime issues. No politician wants to see taxes go up, he said, "but you have to meet your budget."
"I think mostly people are seeing the growth, I think they're seeing the unemployment rate coming down, I think they're seeing the good things we're doing," he gave as reasons for his re-election."
But, he said, it wasn't about him but about everyone who'd been working with him. It was about unity, said Alcombright.
There was agreement among those celebrating at his victory party.
"I think bottom line though, it all comes down to having a council that's strong and visionary, and there are a lot of visionaries on this new council," said resident Kurt Kolok.
Turnout continued to be steady all day, with more than 30 percent of voters heading to the polls. At St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, some 42 percent of the voters in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 had cast ballots by 5:30.
Both mayoral candidates said they felt good about the voters they'd seen and spoken to at the polls.
"It's been a great day, I think voter turnout has been pretty good," said the incumbent, Richard Alcombright. "I fell pretty comfortable right now, seeing folks who are voting. I seem to be getting a good reaction."
The challenger, Robert M. Moulton Jr., on the other side of the driveway, also was feeling a good response.
"We've talked to hundreds of people, people have been good, it's been a great community thing," he said. "It's very heartening to see the community come together like this no matter who wins."
Both said at this point, it was up the voters.
Michael Hernandez and Eric Buddington were hoping the voters will swing their way this time around. Both have been up for City Council seats before and need to get into the top nine vote-getters of the dozen running.
"I feel great, I feel good I'm optimistic I'll win a seat," said Hernandez, who noted the large and steady turnout. "It's been larger than I would have thought."
Buddington, who spent much of the day at the polls with his young son, Solomon, said he didn't like to guess.
"But it's sure been a nice day out, warm and not too breezy," he said, and referred to a collegial atmosphere among the candidates and supporters. "This section has been very warm and welcoming to everybody. There's been no strife in this part ... we've been very well behaved."
Fellow council candidate Cardimino had reportedly continued to clash with police over his attempts to make contact with voters.
Candidates and supporters line the sidewalk around St. Elizabeth's Parish Center.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voter turnout is described as "steady" at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center early this afternoon.
Candidates and supporters lined the street in front the polling location for Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the chilled air, waving at drivers.
Election worker Ron O'Brien pegged the turnout so far at about 10 to 12 percent, or a little over that.
"It's been steady but not a big crowd," he said. "There have been no lines except when we opened."
The expectation is for 30 to 40 percent of the city's more than 8,000 registered voters to cast ballots. O'Brien pointed to a mayoral race with candidates of very opposing views as well as the slate of very new candidates running for City Council as good reasons for a larger turnout.
Last election saw a turnout of 42 percent; polls are open to 7 p.m.
Some of the candidates outside said they'd been getting good responses from voters.
"A lot of people have shaken my hand," said City Council candidate Robert Cardimino, who was frustrated when officers told him he could no longer reach over a low wall to shake hands with voters. "I can't shake hands with you ... the police told me I can't, " he said as a voter reached across to him.
Cardimino said he called Police Director Michael Cozzaglio to find out why shaking hands was a problem.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There will be a change in government in the city by Tuesday night, and how different it will be depends on which chief executive voters chose.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 9 to 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center (Wards 1, 2, 3 & 5) and Greylock School (Ward 4.)
It's a duel for the corner office between longtime friends Richard Alcombright, the incumbent, and Robert M. Moulton Jr., the challenger.
Alcombright is running for a third term for mayor on the progress he's made over the last four years, and his intention to continue along that course. He has pointed to a growing Main Street, the retention and expansion of jobs at Crane & Co., regional partnerships with law enforcement and municipalities, and two landmark initiatives: the Conte School renovation and the privatization plans for Heritage State Park.
Moulton, however, insists that the city hasn't prospered enough and says the incumbent hasn't done enough to combat crime. He is calling for hiring more police and personnel for other city departments, including inspection services, and creating a city-operated charter school, although he has not detailed how those would be funded. He also said he would not support the current deal to privatize the Heritage Park and would instead look for different investors.
No matter who's mayor, one thing is certain: The City Council for 2014-15 will have a very new, likely very younger, face than it has had for years. Links to candidate profiles and forums can be found here.
Five of the dozen candidates are under the age of 35; nine are under the age of 50. The oldest candidate is age 77. Still, differences between the candidates are more a matter of degree than distinction.
Four of the candidates are incumbents, with Keith Bona, 45, having the longest tenure. A local businessman and McCann Technical School graduate, he is running for a third term but spent eight years on the council in the 1990s, making him the veteran with 12 years total.
Incumbent Lisa Blackmer, 49, is seeking a fourth term. She has served as vice president of the council, represents the city on the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and works in accounting and human resources at Wheatleigh.
Incumbents Jennifer Breen, 34, and Nancy Bullett, 58, are each seeking a second term. Both are city natives who operate their own practices: Breen is an attorney and former assistant district attorney and Bullett is a physical therapist.
Past candidates trying again for a spot on the council are Eric Buddington, 40, Michael Hernandez, 42, and Robert Cardimino, 77.
Buddington works in information technology and is a musician and musical instructor, Hernandez is a real estate agent, and Cardimino, a retired GE worker, is a part-time landscaper.
The newcomers include Benjamin Lamb, 28, Joshua Moran, 31, Kate Merrigan, 34, David Robbins, 33, and Wayne Wilkinson, 62.
Lamb is assistant director for student involvement at Williams, Moran is a civil engineer, Merrigan is a program coordinator for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Robbins is a National Guardsman and property manager. Wilkinson, a commercial assessor, is new to the council but not to City Hall, having been a longtime member of both the Planning Board and Mobile Home Rent Control Board.
The candidates are in general agreement that the city should continue the master planning process, that the Conte School renovation is a done deal and that they support plans to privatize Western Gateway Heritage State Park. The exception is Cardimino, who believes privatization should not be done at the expense of the nonprofits, including the city's history museum, currently in the park.
All agreed that crime is a serious concern and that more attention needed to be paid to preventative action such as community organizations, education and drug use. Breen, Blackmer, Moran, Lamb, Bona and Cardimino agreed that hiring more officers would also be helpful, although there would have to be a plan for how to pay for them.
The top nine vote-getters will be seated on the next City Council.
Running for School Committee are incumbents John Hockridge, Heather Putnam Boulger and Mark P. Moulton, and newcomer Michele L. Vareschi.
Both Gary F. Rivers and Paul A. Gigliotti are running for re-election to the McCann School Committee.
Staff Reports On: 04:16PM / Monday November 04, 2013
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three City Council ward seat, councilors at large and School Committee races will be decided Tuesday.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the citywide election. Not only will voters choose the new City Council but will also decide the fate of the newly revised charter (which is available below).
In Ward 1 and 6, the incumbents are being challenged. Ward 1 incumbent Christine Yon is facing Lisa Tully. In the preliminary, Tully was only 166 votes shy of Yon.
Seven candidates are vying for four at-large seats: incumbents Churchill Cotton, Barry Clairmont and Melissa Mazzeo and newcomers Donna Todd Rivers, James Conant, Mark Miller and Kathleen Amuso. Since there are only three incumbents, at least on newcomer will join the council. Council President Kevin Sherman opted not to run for re-election.
There are also seven candidates seeking seats on the School Committee: incumbents Daniel Elias and Katherine Yon and newcomers Joshua Cutler, Brittany Douglas, Cynthia Taylor, Anthony Riello and Pamela Farron.
Running unopposed are Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli and City Clerk Linda Tyer.
1A & 1B- Reid Middle School, 950 North Street
2A-Morningside School, 100 Burbank Street
2B-Somerset Fire Station, 9 Somerset Avenue
3A-Providence Court, 379 East Street
3B-Egremont School, 84 Egremont Avenue
4A-Herberg Middle School, 501 Pomeroy Avenue
4B-Williams School, 50 Bushey Road
5A-Masonic Temple, 116 South Street
5B-West Housatonic Street Fire Station, 311 West Housatonic Street
Letters to the Editor On: 10:00AM / Monday November 04, 2013
To the Editor:
Mayor Alcombright understands what it takes to manage and promote our city and provide the services that people expect. He is deeply concerned about our cost of living, economic development and keeping North Adams an affordable place to live. He is dedicated to enriching our schools and developing the teaching infrastructure we need to better educate children.
The mayor is very proactive about resolving crime, blight and poverty in our city and has the fortitude and courage to acknowledge the problems that drug and alcohol abuse have on this issue, locally and nationwide.
His challenger, Bob Moulton, has made many negative and untrue statements about our mayor and city. It is true that the mayor has allowed for salary increases to certain city personnel as departments are streamlined and workloads are increased on individuals. However, Bob should remember from his years on the council that these raises pale in comparison to those given out during the previous administration. During those years from 2000 to 2009, the administrative officer went from $45,500 to $71,000; the MIS director went from $41,400 to $71,010; the commissioner of public safety went from $41,400 to $70,132; fire director went from $44,217 to $61,295; police director went from $44,217 to $63,016 and finally the mayor's salary went from $57,000 to $84,470, where it remains today, four years later.
Bob should also know that his allegations of property taxes being worse now than ever before are simply not true. From FY 2005 to 2010, while Bob was a councilor, the tax levy in the city increased from $7.8 million to $ 11.6 million or 67 percent - an average increase of 6.09 percent annually. Under Mayor Alcombright, from FY2011 to 2014, the tax levy in the city increased from $11.6 million to $14.2 million or 22.9 percent — an average increase of 5.75 percent annually.
And Bob should also remember that while those taxes were being increased annually prior to Mayor Alcombright taking office, the FY2005 to 2010 years had the luxury of state aid being increased $698,000 per year on average. From FY2011 to FY 2014, Mayor Alcombright has had to deal with an average reduction in state aid of $336,000 annually.
Bob also seems to be unaware that North Adams taxes are less than our neighboring communities and others outside of our area. The average singl-family home value in North Adams is $135,328 which results in a combined water/sewer and property tax bill of $2,667. Meanwhile, in Adams the same home pays $2,791 per year (with no sewer fee); Clarksburg pays $2,800 a year (without full-time fire department); Pittsfield pays $3,331 per year; Gardner pays $ 4,113 annually and Greenfield pays $4,439 per year.
Regarding unemployment, Bob would have you believe the situation is getting worse when the truth is that the North Adams unemployment rate has gone from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent today, a drop of 2.1 percent. Around the region and state, current unemployment in Adams stands at 8.8 percent; Gardner is at 9.9 percent; Fitchburg 10 percent; Holyoke 11.7 percent; New Bedford 13.1 percent; and Lawrence at 14.9 percent unemployment.
A quick Google search of the words "North Adams Crime rate" will take you to the same large list of websites that Bob probably got his crime information from. What he fails to tell us, however, is that these websites show our city has reported above the national and state average consistently, for over 10 years.
At the McCann debate, Bob criticized Mayor Alcombright for not "extorting" money, through a "linkage" account, from the new Super Walmart. Bob also made another anti-business statement by criticizing the mayor for last year's, ever so slight, reduction in our commercial tax rate that still remains the highest in the state.
I've seen a lot of change in our city having served as a city councilor the past 24 years. And the last four years have been the most positive for North Adams.
Mayor Alcombright is the right man for the job. He has given the city council full transparency to the budget process. He has listened and implemented ideas of citizens and has given the respect that is deserved to our hard working city employees. Mayor Alcombright is an honest man who will keep North Adams an affordable, attractive and safe place to live. He has earned my vote and I encourage you to vote for Mayor Alcombright.
Nov. 4, 2013
Bloom is the current president of the North Adams City Council.
There are a dozen candidates running for nine seats on the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The nine highest vote-getters will be elected.
We asked the candidates to offer some personal information and their thoughts on a number of issues that have been before the City Council or raised in the mayoral election over the past few months. Their responses varied, so not every candidate answered every question, but we believe they have provided enough information for voters to get a good grasp on their backgrounds, ideas and stands on a number of critical issues.
The nine candidates who have returned their questions are listed below; their profiles also include the NBCTV panels they participated in, which were moderated by state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, which are also available on this page. They were also interviewed by on WNAW radio by Editor Tammy Daniels and the radio's Megan Duley and those programs will be repeated on WNAW through the weekend.
Click on the banner to go to the candidate's profile page.
Forum 1: Michael Hernandez, Benjamin Lamb, Kate Merrigan and Wayne Wilkinson
Forum 2: Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, Nancy Bullett and Robert Cardimino
Forum 3: Jennifer Breen, Eric Buddington and Joshua Moran