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Robert Moulton, left, Robert Cardimino and Ronald Sheldon are seeking seats on the North Adams City Council.

North Adams Council Candidates: Moulton, Cardimino & Sheldon

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The fifth and last in a series of five candidate articles profiling the 14 City Council candidates running for the nine at-large seats on the North Adams City Council. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. All wards vote at St. Elizabeth's Parish Hall. 
Ronald Sheldon 
Sheldon is a longtime city resident. He works at local Goodwill. He says he is running to represent the disabled people in the city who often do not have a voice and who have difficulty maneuvering with the community. 

Ronald Sheldon
"I'm 65 years old and I'm finally trying to run for City Council," he said. "I want to make North Adams better for the handicapped people." 
Sheldon said he would work with the City Council and Highway Department on issues pertinent to the physically challenged. He also sees himself as a resource for an administration that may not be able to comprehend the day-to-day obstacles people like himself have to overcome. 
He uses a motorized wheelchair which gives him some mobility but that has also limited his ability to participate fully in election activities. He was unable to get on the stage at a recent forum because while the venue was accessible the stage was not. He had difficulty using the doors to get into the television station despite the station being considered fully accessible and was unable to get to a proposed forum because he has not transportation.
Transportation is a big issue in this area, he said, and the conditions of the roads are often impassable. 
"There's no cleaning in the wintertime for the sidewalks," Sheldon said. "I have gotten stuck one day three times going because it was plowed when it was half an inch and then there would be another foot that wasn't plowed and I got stuck."
In terms of some of the other issues discussed, he would be in favor of reinstituting the old rules of order that would allo visitors to speak on all agenda items as they come up — not just in the beginning — to get a more opinions on items. He also thought the city should do more advertising of its meetings and its activities to better inform the community. 
Sheldon wants something down with the Mohawk Theater, for which the city is expected to post a request for proposals. "Why spend all the money to have the front fixed up and we're not using it?" he said of the empty structure. 
"Vote for me for change in the government and, hopefully, get some of the things done for the disabled people in North Adams," he said. 

Robert Cardimino

Cardimino has run unsuccessfully for City Council in the past. A frequent attendee at council meetings, he has spoken out on issues — particularly taxation — and has been removed a number of times for being disruptive. However, he says he can work with the council if elected but will continue to be outspoken. 
A Navy veteran, he is a Drury High School graduate and attended a vocational school in Pittsfield to learn auto body. After several years of that, he was employed by the former General Electric Ordnance in Pittsfield for than 30 years as a welder, inspector and fabricator. In his later years, he's operated a landscaping business. 
"I've attended more meetings than all of the councilors put together here," he said. "Many times, I can call out of order. I don't deny that because they didn't want to hear what I had to say. And it all depends who the council president. You know, if you say the wrong thing, they rule you out of order. But they don't take into consideration free speech. And I resented that."

Robert Cardimino
The ability to speak at council meetings is an issue that Cardimino plans to push for if elected (and if not elected). He has strongly objected to the rules of order put in place two years ago that limit comment on agenda items to the beginning of the meeting. 
Cardimino says the change in commenting is disenfranchising not only him but the community. 
"I know we have a lot of intelligent people on the council. But they don't have an answer for every problem," he said. "And there are some people that have gotten up and spoken at the meetings on the agenda items that have given them some ideas. ...
"I want to get on at council because I want to speak for the people."
He also want the city to implement "open checkbook," an application that displays all payments made by a governmental body including salaries, contracts and bills online.
"If we had open checkbook, there's more transparency on where the money's been spent, where it's coming from, and even down to the last 10 cents," he said. "You can get online and find out that everything's going on."
Cardimino said the council had voted several years ago not to install the application. "Transparency in North Adams is a mile wide, and it's an inch deep," he said. 
He also is against limiting the time of council meetings, noting that there had been complaints by councilors as meetings began to stretch into the night. 
"My answer to that is I don't care if they go to midnight," he said. "If I get on the council, and if the other councilors don't want to stay there and discuss things, then they shouldn't be running. It should be an open meeting for as long as it takes to discuss things and not say, all of a sudden not 'move the question.' And that was pulled several times that I've seen."
Cardimino was referring to a parliamentary move that allows councilors to "move," or shut down debate, to bring a question to vote. It's often used when a discussion begins to get repetitive or very lengthy.
He also wants to revisit the painting of the pillars under the Veterans Memorial Bridge. The pillars had been painted gray more than 20 years ago for a sound installation, then a group of artists and schoolchildren had painted images related to the Arnold Print Works, then about five years later Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art restored the gray for the opening of Building 6. 
"Are we trying to do discourage the kids from getting involved in art? Is MoCA going to [dictate] what goes where?  ... That's not for them to decide," he said. "I don't know where they got permission to paint it over, but it was painted over. And I would like to see it restored."
[Cardimino was also questioned about his use of "Korean War veteran" on his signs and if that would lead people to believe he was in the war, which he has stated that he was not. Veterans Affairs has a cutoff date of Jan. 31, 1955, to be considered a Korean War veteran for applying for benefits (the Korean War Veterans Association uses the same date). The war ended in July 1953 and Cardimino apparently joined the Navy on active duty in January 1955, though he was in a naval reserve unit prior. He says he could have been called to Korea and therefore can rightfully to use the term. 
"I don't care if I signed up 10 minutes before [the ceasefire] was signed," he said. "It qualifies me as a Korean War veteran with the benefits and everything else that go with it and be able to wear a hat that says 'Korean War veteran.'"]

Robert Moulton

Moulton is seeking a second return to the City Council: he served five terms total, though was off for six years until being voted back on in 2015. He ran twice unsuccessfully for mayor — in 2013 and 2017 — and is now ready to not only come back to the council but is also running for School Committee. 

Robert Moulton
His family has run Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe for three generations in North Adams and in Bennington, Vt., where Moulton has worked for 40 years. He's been a member of the board of directors for Northern Berkshie EMS for 30, 13 of those as president. 
"I've done work with unions, and we just completed the past year, big merger between the two to local services [in North Adams and Williamstown], so I'm kind of proud of that," he said. "And I have 10 years on the City Council, served on many committees, chairman of Public Safety done a couple times on the Finance Committee, also, General Government, and I enjoy it and that's why I'm back."
He said since losing in 2017, he thought he was done — he didn't watch or attend meetings. 
"I just wanted to clear my head and go in fresh and after the new cycle came up, I find I still had the passion and wanted to get back involved," he said. "the city is doing terrific and I love North Adams and I've had a long-term commitment to, as with other family members, to the community and want to jump back in."
He, too, is against the current council rules that limit speaking on agenda items to the beginning of the meeting. He wouldn't put up with personal attacks but otherwise wouldn't mind seeing a little "back and forth" for the mayor or councilors to answer questions of the public. 
"I've always believed the City council was the people's meeting," he said. "It's not the mayor's meeting. It's not our meeting, we represent the people. And I've always felt you should be able to speak almost at any time, again, within limits."
However, he said his decision to run again isn't based on an perceived shortcomings of the current council. But he is concerned about voter apathy, that people he's spoken to don't seem to that what happens in City Council affects them. 
"I mean, basically, they do a pretty good job. I would like to see — I don't know if it's the councilors — but the meetings be more friendly. I'd like to see a more participation," Moulton said. "I tell people, you want to make a difference, get a group of people, come down to the meeting, walk in there, and it makes a difference when the councilors see that."
He also said people should know that if they have an issue, they can contact a city councilor and get it on the agenda. He's done it in the past, including for Cardimino, on issues he didn't necessarily agree with but which a constitutuent wanted to speak on. 
Moulton described himself as a "big downtown guy" and would like to see something happen with the Mohawk Theater and Eagle Street. 
"The theater is a huge thing and it's been an issue for me for a number of years," he said. "With the people we have here, with the venues between [Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts] and Mass MoCA, boy, it just seems like it'd be an awesome, awesome deal."
He'd raised his frustration in the last election about the hanging of a vinyl banner on Veterans Memorial Bridge to encourage people downtown. The city had to do a better job in getting the masses of Mass MoCA visitors out of the museum and into the city, he said.
"We have this captive audience but you have to have a downtown anchor — dinner theater, I mean, there's unlimited model of things, but it just seems hard that there couldn't be a collaboration of like-minded people, people who have mone doing something," he said.
Moulton is also supportive of investments into sidewalks, listing the "atrocious' conditions of the sidewalks in his own neighborhood and Greylock. 
"These are sidewalks with roots growing up through them," he said. "You got a lot of kids and a lot of people who walk. That's a bad scene over there and that's something that I think it's time we spend some money over there."
He also thinks that he could adequately represent voters on both the City Council and the School Committee, noting the school commitment is only once a month. "I do have the time at this stage of my life," he said. 

Tags: candidate interviews,   city election,   election 2019,   North Adams City Council,   

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North Adams McDonald's Being Renovated

Staff ReportsiBerkshires

Plans presented to the Planning Board in 2018.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McDonald's on Union Street is in the process of being renovated inside and out with a more contemporary look. 
The plans were approved in November 2018 by the Planning Board and include the removal of the mansard roof and construction of a new patio area in the front. 
The fast-food burger chain launched the new look two years ago with plans to invest $6 billion to renovate most of its 14,000 locations by the end of 2020.
Changes include modernized dining areas with new furniture and "globally and locally inspired décor," according the release announcing the building overhauls in 2018. 
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