Like most small New England towns, North Adams faces a wide variety of challenges on the economic, educational and crime reduction fronts. In his four years in office, Mayor Richard Alcombright has confronted them. The challenge for Mr. Alcombright's opponent, Robert Moulton, has been to convince voters that the incumbent has fallen short and he can do better if elected Tuesday.
The pair are old friends and political allies as city councilors, but the split that produced the current election campaign came when Mr. Moulton led an effort to recall the City Council's vote in favor of the Conte School renovation project. That project is one of Mayor Alcombright's signature achievements, one that will long benefit North Adams. Significantly, the result of the petition drive was a vote by city taxpayers endorsing the school project.
The extension of the Berkshire Scenic Railway to North Adams and the planned redevelopment of Heritage State Park to better integrate it with the city are promising Alcombright initiatives. He has put out the welcome mats for small businesses, restaurants and cultural tourism. The mayor is attacked on taxes but city services must be adequately funded, not just for residents but in the hope of drawing new people and businesses to the community. We see no evidence that Mayor Alcombright has given out tax breaks to large corporations or tax deals to cronies as has been claimed by opponents. As is the case with taxes, the modest pay raises given to city and school officials constitute wise investments in the city.
Mr. Moulton has focused on crime in his campaign but has not clearly articulated how he would address it or how he would fund such an effort. Mayor Alcombright has responded quickly to high-profile acts of crime in the city by involving the state and Berkshire County sheriff's office.
Mr. Moulton, in failing to articulate a positive plan for doing better than his opponent, has resorted too often to attacks on the mayor. Mayor Alcombright has gone beyond articulating a plan to enacting it by making North Adams a better city over the past four years in the face of significant roadblocks. He has earned another two years in office and The Eagle endorses him for re-election.