With municipal elections looming in the fall, North Adams, Massachusetts Mayor Tom Bernard tells WAMC he will not seek a third two-year term. One day after delivering his annual state of the city address, Bernard explained to WAMC why he’s stepping aside after four years leading the city of around 13,000.
BERNARD: The biggest one is the feeling that we have really important work ahead of us as a city over this year. You know, it's work, as I said in the State of the City last night, that didn't get as didn't get done as deeply as I certainly had wanted to going into 2020. And I want to be able to put my full time and attention into, you know, addressing the challenges with infrastructure, addressing our capital needs, addressing our budget challenges, addressing, you know, the on 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.
WAMC: Looking over your time, what do you see is the landmark moments or accomplishments in the Bernard era of North Adams?
Gosh, I gotta tell you, Josh, I think I'm not in a in a place this morning, as I'm thinking about looking ahead, to be quite that reflective. I think there'll be time for it for that. But, you know, I think right now, one of the things I'm very proud of is the work that the city team and the regional team has done over the past year in responding to a public health and economic and human services and educational crisis, like nothing any of us could have anticipated and the way that we responded, the way people pulled together, the way the city staff worked creatively, the way that we collaborated across the across the Northern Berkshires. I said this last night, there's a reason that the governor and the administration have looked at the Berkshires as a model for vaccine rollout. And it's because we do partner well together. And we've done that since the start. So being part of a collaborative team. I'm really proud of the work that we've done on updating our zoning, I'm proud of the work that we've done to move some big properties into into private hands that will redevelop them. I'm proud to have hired a new police chief, I'm proud to be in the process of hiring a new fire chief. And I'm you know, I'm really proud of the work of our educators and our school professionals who have gone above and beyond over this over this past year, because that's, you know, that's how they approach their work and their care for, for young people in this community.
What do you see in the future for Tom Barnard? Is there a future opportunity for public office for you? Moving into the private sector? What lies ahead?
You know, again, today's about letting my current intentions be known. And those intentions are to, you know, to serve out, to serve out my term. And, you know, I think the opportunity again, to be to be reflective to, to network, to have conversations and to explore- I mean, it's an interesting opportunity. I've never been a former mayor before. So the kind of opportunities that I may I may consider and things that may come my way that I wouldn't imagine. It's kind of exciting.
Just after Bernard’s announcement, North Adams city council Vice President Jason LaForest confirmed his intentions to run for mayor to WAMC.