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Macksey, Bond Prevail In North Adams Preliminary Mayoral Election

People hold signs for political candidates outside of a church on a sunny day.
Josh Landes
Supporters outside of the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish polling place in North Adams, Massachusetts on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021.

Tuesday’s preliminary vote in North Adams, Massachusetts has narrowed the city’s mayoral race down to two candidates for the November 2nd municipal election.

Around 1,450 voters – about 16% of the roughly 9,000 registered in the city – cast ballots Tuesday. Jennifer Macksey and Lynette Bond coasted through the contest with around 800 and 600 votes respectively, towering over third and fourth place finishers Aprilyn Carsno and Rachel Branch – who collectively netted under 50 votes.

Macksey, once the city treasurer under Mayor John Barrett, enjoyed a close relationship with her former boss. The long-time mayor who now serves as a state representative told the North Adams Transcript in 2008 that Macksey was his alter ego: “She knew to turn left before I even I knew I was turning left.”

WAMC caught up with the first-place finisher on the campaign trail Tuesday afternoon.

“A big thing with my supporters, Josh, are focused on quality of life, neighborhoods and crime," said Macksey. "A lot of people are very concerned about the drug problems here in North Adams, not only about the drugs themselves, but having resources available for our people. And then notably, Spectrum. Spectrum is a big thing, a big part of my platform. And we really need to take a good look at their contract and make sure that our citizens are getting the best out of that contract. And then the last thing is everyone's really worried about the infrastructure and what we're going to do here in North Adams, and, you know, even though we're going to replace all the fire hydrants, what's going on underneath our streets? So everything really revolves around safety and security.”

After the votes were counted, she told WAMC that she’s digging in with just six weeks before the general election.

“We're very excited about the results today," said Macksey. "We're very grateful for our supporters. But this is the beginning of a lot of hard work ahead. I just want to thank [Aprilyn] and Rachel for running. Anyone who puts their name on the ballot, it's a big challenge and it's a big sacrifice, and I respect them for putting their name on the ballot. But today's just the beginning of a lot of work. And we're looking forward to serving the citizens of this community and being responsive to their needs. So we're very excited here in Macksey for Mayor headquarters.”

Macksey’s campaign has raised over $27,000, including donations from NORAD Mill developer David Moresi, and former city councilors Marie Harpin and Robert Moulton – both of whom resigned from the body over the past 14 months.

Second-place finisher Bond – an administrator at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts – also spoke with WAMC after the votes came in Tuesday night.

“Well, I think a lot of voters recognize the strength that I can bring to the table with a grant management experience," said Bond. "I think people are excited to move this city forward. I think the bike path is a big strong project that people want to see move ahead. So I'm thrilled about that. And then you know, this idea of really bringing more people into the city and this idea of growing our tax base and really being focused on investment for our city.”

David Bond, Lynette’s brother-in-law and campaign manager, spoke to WAMC outside the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish polling place.

“We believe that her qualifications, her master's degree from Columbia in nonprofit administration, her ability to write grants in today's world, with the $1.3 billion infrastructure bill about to be passed through the House and through the Senate, is paramount for North Adams to get in line," he told WAMC. "Because we have several projects, like our public safety building, aging water, aging sewer lines that really need to be addressed. And we believe that she's the right person for the job.”

Bond’s campaign has raised over $18,000, with support coming from city councilors Keith Bona and Peter Oleskiewicz, former city councilor Paul Hopkins and the family of Mayor Tom Bernard, who chose to step down after the end of his second term in 2022.

Third-place finisher Carsno spoke to WAMC Wednesday.

“A lot of my supporters stated they didn’t realize voting was yesterday," said the candidate. "I tried to reach out to them, and I was unable to, so.”

Carsno, who is not endorsing either Macksey or Bond at this time, has three issues she wants to see addressed by the next mayor of North Adams: “Lowering property taxes, lowering the budget and infrastructure."

Branch, who placed last with around 20 votes in her third mayoral bid, says she will not be endorsing either candidate in the general election.

“The percentage of people that voted is disappointing, really disappointing," she told WAMC. "I don't know, if people really realize how important a preliminary election is. I just- The two candidates, whichever one becomes the mayor, the things that I care about that are very important are women's equality and equity and the vulnerable and the children and the climate catastrophe. And the COVID pandemic. All of these are top of the list. And I don't know about the background experience of either of those candidates and if they will put those at the top of an agenda, because we're talking about saving our world now.”

Whoever wins in November, Macksey or Bond will make North Adams history by becoming the city’s first female mayor.

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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