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North Adams Mayor Will Not Seek A Fifth Term

JD Allen
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright says he will not run for re-election.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright announced Thursday he is not seeking a fifth term. 

Speaking at his City Hall office, Alcombright says when he made the decision to run for mayor of Massachusetts’ smallest city in 2009, he wanted to strengthen the city’s economic base and transparency.

“I wanted to open the doors of local government to all people and to all ideas and make government a partner. And eight years later, where are we?” Alcombright says.

Alcombright first won office by ousting 25-year incumbent John Barrett.

Now set to leave office, Alcombright touts as successes balancing three successive budgets and presenting a fourth, building strong reserves, improving credit ratings and having clean audits. Along with an open door policy, Alcombright says his administration has kept public records and information open and the budget process transparent.

“The credit rating is the absolute measurement of what we have done here financially,” Alcombright says.

A low-point for Alcombright’s time in office is likely the sudden closure of the North Adams Regional Hospital in March 2014. Alcombright also struggled against Barrett, who returned for a hard-fought race in 2015. North Adams mayoral races are non-partisan.

“I am not pleased that we haven’t been able to do with the Mohawk Theatre. I am hoping – beyond hope – that before the end of the year we will have something said about the in a positive way. But, you know also, I will not take a whole lot of credit for continued blight issues in the City of North Adams. You know, we … That’s a tough nut.  And I think any successor will have to deal with some of the blight issues here, and property issues, and housing issues, and some of those other things we will have here as a result of that.”

Lately the eight-year mayor has been pushing for economic growth such as MASS MoCA’s Building 6 expansion, a new motel, and cultural corridor with Williamstown. Alcombright has also become a vocal advocate for mental health reforms and funding to fight substance abuse.

But what really made Alcombright evaluate his position was when he saw how active the community got in the policy-making process. 

“The City of North Adams has been under the leadership of two mayors for the last 34 years,” Alcombright says. “If nothing else, this number makes me realize that we have missed an entire generation of leaders.  As we approach the third decade of this century, it is very clear to me that it is time for North Adams to move into its exciting future with new leadership and new energy.  It is time for new leadership that will foster much of what has been done while establishing a new vision and creating new ideas.  All of this fueled with the new energy created by so many willing to pull the rope.”

North Adams’ preliminary election, if needed, will be on September 19th. The general city election is November 7th.

Former Mayor Barrett tells WAMC News he is eager to see who will run for mayor, and that while he is still taking in Alcombright’s decision, he is keeping his options open. 

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