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MCLA Development Officer Enters North Adams Mayoral Race

A white woman with brown hair and a blue shirt stands in front of pink flowers

Lynette Bond is the Director of Development For Grants and Research at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. The 44-year-old is the latest candidate to join the packed race for mayor. With incumbent Tom Bernard not seeking a third two-year term, Bond is the fourth hopeful to launch a bid. Bond spoke with WAMC about her vision for North Adams, and what issues are most pressing in the community of around 13,000.

BOND: I just adore this city. I love the people, the natural landscapes, the cultural institutions, the history of the city. And as we emerge from the pandemic that has upended our lives, I feel this energy and this great potential that lies ahead of us. And I have the passion and the collaborative spirit to lead this momentum. I think now is the time to capitalize on the incredible improvements being made within our public schools. Now is the time to finally procure the funding to make the necessary improvements to our public safety, snd now it's time to encourage our business leaders to continue to make the investments to our city to bring economic stability to our region. I think now is the time for the future of North Adams.

WAMC: North Adams is also facing a great number of challenges, from infrastructure to housing. From your vantage point, what are the biggest challenges North Adams is facing that you would address if you were elected mayor?

Well, I think there are three main challenges facing our city. One is the infrastructure. As you mentioned, we've had some recent fires in our city. And we've been so impressed with our fire department and how they've contained the blaze. But it does point to the need to improve our infrastructure. With that, there are many processes to do that. We need to look at feasibility studies designed construction. And we know there are multiple sources to secure those funds. And that's something that I think I can bring to the city, is that experience with securing funding from multiple sources.

For folks that don't really know what you do at MCLA, can you break down what exactly it is that you do for the college?

Sure. I work in in the grants field. So often I am able to secure funding. That's through a proposal development process. Then it's to implement those projects with leaders across the college. And then we have fiscal responsibilities of doing drawdowns, reporting, and then, of course, the closeout of any project and grant proposal.

Last year North Adams joined the nation in a rigorous and at times emotional debate about race and equity in our communities. What were your takeaways from the very public conversation around Black Lives Matter in 2020?

I think that conversation has been one of great reflection. And thinking about it over the past year, it not only happened during the pandemic, which completely upended our lives, but it really gave us a chance to talk to one another, to examine, and often to take action when we witnessed those racist events. I think the city is doing a great job with its IDEA [Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access] committee. And I look forward to doing what I can to confront racism and inequality in our community.

We're getting towards the end of the tenure of Tom Bernard. Can you give me your thoughts on Mr. Bernard’s legacy as mayor of North Adams? Are there things you'd like to continue from his time in office or things that you think he could have addressed more directly or didn't address at all over the last few years?

Well, I think Mayor Bernard did do a remarkable job getting us through this past year. He had to make decisions that were often not popular. But we're in the best interest of our public health. So I admire Mayor Bernard for making a lot of those decisions and keeping us informed. I do think there may have been projects that were shelved during the pandemic. So I do look forward to learning more from Mayor Bernard and determining which of those projects may still be in the pipeline, and which are worthy to bring forward now with the coronavirus mostly behind us.

What's your position on the financial health of North Adams, and what kind of financial policies would you pursue should you be elected mayor?

Well, we do know that our tax structure, and where we are with our levy limit, we are very, we're approaching that levy limit. So we need to be mindful, we need to be fiscally responsible. But we know there are also opportunities for growth. So we want to encourage our business leaders, to tell them that now, yes, is the time to invest in our city. And we welcome you and we look forward to your success. Because when you succeed, we all succeed. So I think I can bring that collaborative spirit, that passion, that energy to the city of North Adams.

On social issues, where do you describe yourself politically?

On social issues, I do want to reflect the diversity in our community. I think being possibly the first woman mayor of North Adams helps to reflect that diversity. And I do want to encourage those underrepresented in our community to become involved, and to know that the city is here to serve you.

Lynette, if you had to give sort of the elevator pitch on your candidacy, what is the basic takeaway from the Lynette Bond mayoral campaign?

Well, I think it's one of great passion energy and it's one in which we can accomplish great things if we work together. If we listen to one another, if we talk with one another, we have very knowledgeable people within our city. And we know that if we work together, we can accomplish great things.

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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