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North Adams voters share dreams, concerns, and priorities on Election Day

The sidewalks outside a Catholic church are filled with voters and campaign signs down a city block
Josh Landes
The scene outside the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in North Adams, Massachusetts, on November 2nd, 2021.

Voters in North Adams, Massachusetts had a lot on their minds in last week’s municipal election. WAMC was on the scene to find out more.

On November 2nd, over 3,000 registered voters went to the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in the heart of North Adams to choose new leaders.

While the marquee event was the mayoral race between Jennifer Macksey and Lynette Bond – Macksey ultimately prevailed, becoming the city of 13,000’s first female mayor – the election illuminated hopes, fears, and priorities among city residents.

“I want to see better for North Adams," said Karen Pessolano. "I want to see the streets taken care of and the drug situation that we have here in North Adams, I'd like to see that under control. Education for the children, that's important.”

“It’s a big change as far as going for to a new brand new person, not having an incumbent in this race," said Jonathon Nopper. "I am recently a homeowner here. So that's the biggest reason, trying to find the right person to take the lead to the city and make sure that they make the right choices so that people who live here do the best for their community.”

“Definitely education and just making sure our schools are up to par and where we need them to be," said Allison Galambos. "And then it's just creating more business opportunities.”

Some said national issues influenced their vote in the municipal election.

“I think it's very important, especially in this day and age, when this country is under attack from the right over issues that really don't even really exist a lot of times, but they're making issues over it, like the critical race theory. If we don't know our own history, then we're just going to repeat it. And so that motivated me to come down and vote," said Marcia Ray. “I like diverse candidates, we need that this country is diverse, we can't go back to where we were just white people ruling over everybody else. And so it motivated me to come out and vote and also for my community. I was born and lived here my whole life. And I want the best for it. I want the best for us. We are increasingly becoming more diverse. We have a long way to go. But I want it to be a welcoming community for everybody. So I made sure I'd voted for candidates who were going to ensure that.”

“Overall, living conditions, money spent, where it went," said Aja Daugherty.
Fire hydrants was a big thing. The safety of our fire department, the conditions of our police station. And just overall, the running of the economy.”

Daugherty brought her daughters to the polls.

“We've been talking and they've been reiterating the importance of this race," she told WAMC. "And you know, its history in the making. I think it's great. We have two women running, though only one got my vote. I think that is amazing that we had two women running. And I'm hoping that the shows are kids that are young girls that they can, you know, accomplish the same.”

WAMC: Can I ask you a question?

LILY: Yeah.

What's your name?

LILY: Lily.

What did it feel like today, watching your mom vote for a female mayor of North Adams?

LILY: Excited.

And why excited?

LILY: Well, um, I don't know. It's hard to explain.

AJA: What does it mean to you that there's two women running for mayor?

LILY: Very surprised, actually. Because it's two women and, you know, we've always had men.

AJA: So what does that mean for you?

LILY: Crazy!

What would it feel like to see a woman leading this city or community that you live in?

LILY: Good. It's really good. Amazing, actually. It's blowing my mind.

Does it make you feel like you could do something like that someday?

LILY: Maybe!

I get the big scoop right now if you're running for mayor in a few years.

LILY: [laughing] OK.

Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it.

AJA: Absolutely, thank you.

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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