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North Adams voters will elect city’s first female mayor Tuesday

The sample ballot for the November 2nd, 2021 North Adams, Massachusetts municipal election
City of North Adams, MA

Residents of North Adams, Massachusetts go to the polls Tuesday to pick new municipal leaders – including the first female mayor in city history.

Beyond the historic mayoral vote, the election will also decide the makeup of the nine-person city council, as well as municipal and regional school committee seats.

Mayor Tom Bernard, who is leaving after two two-year terms, gave WAMC the rundown of what he thinks are the biggest issues for his successor.

“It is fiscal sustainability, it is quality education for our young people, it is public safety, it is investment and management of our infrastructure, and it is a continued recovery from the pandemic,” said Bernard.

At their final debate, voters heard from both mayoral candidates October 21st at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Lynette Bond is the Director of Development For Grants and Research at MCLA. In one of the city’s long-running political divides, she is backed by former Mayor Richard Alcombright.

“I was raised in Iowa by a single mother who instilled in me the value of education and the importance of dedication to one's work," said Bond. "She worked in administration for nearly 40 years before retiring and moving out here to North Adams. I was close also with my father, who's a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and a proud member of the American Legion. My grandfather, too, was influential. He was a police officer, often working nights, and somehow managed to drive a bus in the school bus in the mornings and afternoons. It's because of them that I am the first in my family to go to college. I'm quite proud of my service in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am married with two children. My husband works at BMC and my two children proudly attend North Adams public schools. Through my civic engagement, I volunteered to lead the campaign for the Colegrove Park Elementary school project. I'm a planning board member. I have worked- I have been a board member and treasurer of Childcare of the Berkshires. I've been a foster parent for the Department of Children and Families. Our family has been a host family for the North Adams SteepleCats- Go cats! And I've been a coach for the North Adams Youth Basketball League. Working and volunteering in this community has taught me the joys and struggles in other's lives, and I think it's this dedication to the community- This experience is fundamental to understanding our community. So I am committed to this community, I'm prepared, and I have the experience to put our, my experience and my working experience to work for the city of North Adams.”

Jennifer Macksey is an Assistant Superintendent at the North Berkshire School Union, and a former North Adams treasurer under former mayor and current state representative John Barrett. The winner of September’s preliminary election, she has been critical of Bernard’s tenure, and described North Adams as a business in need of experienced leadership.

When I first announced my candidacy in July, I did so because of my deep love and concern for this great city, a place that I've called home my entire life," said Macksey. "My parents always stressed me that I should give back to this community, and I feel now is the right time to give back to North Adams, a community that has been good to me and my family. My extensive municipal and educational experience has prepared me well to move this city forward. I will be the mayor who represents all people of North Adams, and I will always put the best interest of this city first. I will bring back professional leadership, accountability, and financial oversight to local government. There hasn't been a lot of debate about the issues that face us. There are many uncertain times ahead in North Adams, and the next mayor will be facing many difficult decisions. The voters of North Adams should know how each of us, our candidates, will respond to these challenges ahead. Throughout my campaign, I've touched on many issues which are important to all of us. I've avoided making personal attacks on my opponent and her supporters, as it serves no purpose other than to upset our family members and divide the community. I hope tonight we can talk about quality of life, our neighborhoods, our aging infrastructure, economic development, and most important to me, the education of this community. But most importantly, I want to make this an affordable community for our hard working men and women.”

Both candidates endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement and committed to pursuing inclusivity efforts in North Adams. Bond backed Smart Growth zoning in the city, while Macksey expressed skepticism. While Bond supported rotaries on Main Street and the creation of enterprise funds for major infrastructure improvements, Macksey did not.

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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