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North Adams Voters Take Stock Ahead Of Mayoral Vote

A white woman in a red shirt and sunglasses sits at a picnic bench by a parking lot with a Jennifer Macksey campaign sign in front of a row of other campaign signs for Rachel Branch and Lynette Bond.
Josh Landes
Kathy McLain sits outside of the North Adams, Massachusetts polls on September 21st, 2021.

With the election fast approaching, North Adams, Massachusetts voters are considering the state of their city as they decide who should serve as mayor next year.

On a bright, sunny September Tuesday, almost 1,500 city residents made it to the polls to vote in a preliminary election that secured mayoral candidates Jennifer Macksey and Lynette Bond spots on the November 2nd ballot. WAMC posted up outside of the St. Elizabeth Of Hungary Parish polling location to take the city’s temperature in the run-up to a historic vote: No matter who wins this fall, the city will have its first female mayor.

“I love North Adams. I can remember when it was a busy little city. But it’s never going to be that way again," said Robert Canedy, 73. “First and foremost, we need some jobs here. So I’m hoping maybe they can work something to get the jobs – at least some jobs – here that get the people to working. That’s the main thing right there.”

He voted for Macksey.

“I think she’s good," Canedy told WAMC. "I think she’s going to do a good job. I listened to her, she was over at St. Joe Court a couple of weeks ago and she did very well. I think she’s very well. The others are good too, but I just happen to think that Jennifer Macksey has a very good chance of getting in.”

Canedy has been deliberately avoiding discussing the election.

“I try to keep to myself," he said. "I don’t like to get involved too much in talking politics – politics and religion, you know?”

Turnout was light at around 16% of registered voters.

“A lot of people are not voting today from what I’ve been hearing around town, but I’d like to see a woman – well, it’s definitely going to be a woman mayor, but, yeah, it’s exciting to have a first woman mayor," said Kelly Keleher, 53.

She says her top issue in this year’s election is housing.

“Low income housing for sure," she told WAMC. "A lot of people in town are suffering and not living in nice houses.”

Keleher also voted for former city treasurer Macksey.

“She seems to know a little bit more about it," she said. "She worked for city hall for many years and she’s been living here most all of her life. I think she’s the best one.”

Dave Deluca, 78, said there wasn’t one single issue that brought him out to the polls.

“Basically, our city itself," he told WAMC. "I think that some changes have to be made and I think there’s a candidate out there that can make them, and that’s why I’m here.”

He declined to say who he voted for.

For 82-year-old Hulda Jowett, casting a ballot was simply doing her duty.

“Well, I think it’s important to vote," said Jowett. "It’s the American way. At least, it used to be.”

Her vote went to Macksey.

“Well, I’ve known her since she was a little girl," she told WAMC. "That’s a help. And I know what kind of a person she is, and I like that she has a program, a list of problems in the city that she’s going to attack very specifically.”

Kathy McLain, 61, wore a Macksey shirt and held a Macksey sign outside of the parish. She says it’s the first campaign she’s ever gotten involved in outside of her own daughter’s school committee bid.

“It is a big election, because it’s the first time in the history of North Adams that we’re going to have a female mayor, so that’s a huge milestone,” she told WAMC.

Her top issues are infrastructure and education.

“The new police facility would be an awesome thing to do – the education, getting the afterschool programs back on track would be certainly an asset," said McLain. "I have grandchildren that benefit from those programs.”

Todd Walker, 50, didn’t have any specific issues in mind when he cast his vote.

“Not off the top of my head I don’t, but I’m sure there’ll be some by the time election time comes,” he told WAMC.

He brought a similarly laissez faire attitude to his chosen candidate.

“Macksey,” said Walker.

“And why her?” asked WAMC.

“Don’t know," Walker laughed. "I just come out and voted for the two that I knew – just a preliminary, and we’ll go from there.”

Macksey garnered about 800 votes while Bond finished with around 600.

The general election is November 2nd.

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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