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Political Newcomer Carsno Joins Race For North Adams Mayor

A white woman with brown hair sits in a car
Aprilyn Carsno
Aprilyn Carsno.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Carsno was a Certified Nursing Assistant, not a nurse as originally reported.

A new candidate has entered the race for mayor of North Adams, Massachusetts. With Tom Bernard declining not to seek a third term this fall, there are now three official names in contention – as well as an expected run from city council Vice President Jason LaForest. Alongside MCLA student Josh Vallieres and perennial candidate Rachel Branch is Aprilyn Carsno. WAMC spoke with the 49-year-old former certified nursing assistant about why she’s entering the politics for the first time. One reason: the city’s broken fire hydrants.

CARSNO: It's time for change. First, we need a woman in office. We've never had one. Everything has been declining, like, really bad in this area. And I think, you know- I'm hoping to bring it back to life. The businesses, they keep leaving. We need businesses brought back to this area. I just feel like because I'm from the city, and I know what it's supposed to look like, and what it should look like, you know, it's just, it's time for change. You know, there's too many things going on. The fire hydrants, you know, was like a huge eye-opener for me. I've never heard anything like that in my life. Two houses were lost due to it. Thank God, we've lost no lives. And you know, there's 130 fire hydrants. I've never heard of anything like this. It's just- I was sick of seeing things decline in the city. And I want to make a change.

WAMC: So you've talked about infrastructure, you talked about businesses- what are other parts of your promise to North Adams to make the city better should you be elected mayor?

Well, I'm going to be looking into- Well, I personally think if we got some solar panels to power at least the city buildings, and would save funds on that we could give back to the people and cut their property taxes, because the taxes are high. And all I keep seeing is the taxes going up. But that's not helping them. They're already low income familieswithout jobs, you know, it's just- I want to bring back, you know, the own-your-own-home program that the city used to have. I personally bought one of those houses many years ago. And it was a really good program. It needs to be brought back. We need more affordable housing in this area.

Now, are there any municipal leaders past or present that you look to as a good example of leadership in North Adams?

Honestly, I think [John] Barrett did a really good job. I know, a lot of people, you know, differ in their opinions. But he had that program that offered housing to people that were low income. It gave them a chance to get the foot in the door, you know, with housing. I just I think he was a lot better than last two mayors.

There's been a lot of conversation over the past year about racism and systemic inequality in communities all over the country, including North Adams. What are your thoughts on that conversation as it pertains to the city?

If you're referring to the Black Lives Matters, the whole thing is just- It's an awful shame, what's going on in the world. And I just, from my personal experience, I don't see race. I don't see any of that. My grandchildren are Puerto Rican. I have people of color within my own family. So I don't see, you know, sexuality. I don't see race. I don't see a difference.

Now, what's your strategy to win the corner office?

Well, I care about the people. I'd be working for the people. And I wear my heart on my sleeve. So I care, you know, about everybody and everything. You know, I want to make this city alive again. When I first moved up here in '97, there were so many more businesses. It was just- it felt more alive. You know, it doesn't even seem like a city anymore because, you know, all the businesses we've lost, everything that's happened and then COVID. I want to bring the city back to life.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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