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North Adams Voters Will Choose Two Mayoral Candidates Tuesday

A brutalist brick building sits under a blue sky.
Josh Landes
North Adams City Hall.

North Adams, Massachusetts voters will winnow a field of four mayoral candidates down to two in Tuesday’s municipal runoff election.

The preliminary vote will help determine who will replace two-term incumbent Tom Bernard. In February, he announced he wouldn’t seek another term.

“I want to be able to put my full time and attention into addressing the challenges with infrastructure, addressing our capital needs, addressing our budget challenges, addressing the ongoing and the continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be with us and will continue to be with us for the next several months,” he told WAMC.

One of the four candidates on the ballot is running for the third consecutive election.

“Well, I think if you go back to 2017 and 2019, all of the issues that I spoke about then are still relevant. Obviously, with the COVID pandemic, we have additional issues that need to be addressed. And obviously health is at the top of the list. I don't go 1, 2, 3, 4 – health is… Infrastructure. Certainly, fire hydrants have to be fixed in North Adams. So if you talk about health, water, air, my energy fights for clean energy. These are all basic to service to the community, and to having what I call a warm and welcoming community. And you have to take care of the public service needs first," said Rachel Branch, who announced her latest run on Earth Day. “I have been fighting for clean air and clean water since 1997. I have testified in Hartford, Connecticut. I did a lot of work in Connecticut, three times, to clean up power plants. I helped stop an asphalt plant in my neighborhood when I lived in Bridgeport. I fought up here in North Adams, just testifying, fought Kinder Morgan, Tennessee Gas. So that was very important on Earth Day. And also, which I didn't put in my announcement, that was my father's birthday anniversary. So I thought it was a very special day to have Earth Day and my father's birthday anniversary be the day that I announced.”

Another candidate is a political newcomer.

“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," said Aprilyn Carsno, who also announced her run in April. “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 families without jobs, you know, it's just- I want to bring back 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.”

In June, a Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts administrator threw her hat in the ring.

“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," said Lynette Bond. “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, and 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.”

A former city treasurer rounds out the ballot.

“I've always worked at City Hall. I have 16 years of a municipal experience. So my family is very rooted and grounded in this community, and I feel that it's really time to give back to a place that I love. With my extensive experience in municipal government, as well as education, I can really move the city forward. I'll be able to hit the ground running and address the needs of the community from day one," said Jennifer Macksey, who announced her bid in July. “I'm certainly ready to restore accountability and get city government organized and work with all of the constituencies and all of the city councils and city leaders to get things organized, and then move us forward. We need to start focusing on day to day operations, as well as developing clear policies and initiatives to move us forward. So you know, a lot about education, a lot about economic development. But from the beginning, I need to do a clear assessment of what's going on, how much money we have, where we're spending, where we need to dedicate resources, etc.”

The top two vote-getters will compete to become the first female mayor of North Adams in the November 2nd city election.

Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in North Adams Tuesday.

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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