NORTH ADAMS -- Former City Councilor Robert Moulton Jr. launched his first mayoral campaign at the American Legion Post No. 125 on Friday, promising to set the city on "the road to recovery" with a "simple" action plan.
Moulton outlined his plan before a crowd of nearly 90 supporters, promising to reduce crime by putting more police on the streets and going after the owners of blighted property; to prioritize fiscal spending; to complete the Mohawk Theater renovations and to revitalize the downtown business district.
Among his supporters were former Mayor John Barrett III, City Councilor Marie Harpin, council candidate Robert Cardimino, local developer David Moresi and former long-time Planning Board member Joseph Gniadek.
"Before I made the decision to run for mayor, I spent several months talking to residents, the majority of who expressed their frustration with what's going on in North Adams," he said.
"Most of the people I talked to are from hardworking, middle class families struggling to make ends meet. Their taxes and fees are increasing, while the value of their homes are declining."
He chastised the Alcombright administration's fiscal policy, saying the mayor had handed out raises to "the chosen," while cutting services, such as cutting the grass at city-owned fields and cemeteries.
"A few years ago, this city was an affordable community, with good services, reasonable taxes and a quality of life that was second to none," Moulton added. "Much has changed over the last 45 months, as North Adams is no longer an affordable community with good service. Our quality of life is nowhere as near as good as it was four years ago and the number of people with water and sewer liens on their homes has soared significantly. People simply can't afford these increases."
"While there was no money to sweep neighborhood streets or mow neighborhood fields and cemeteries, the mayor found money to spruce up downtown for the Wilco festival, saying he wanted North Adams to look its best for the festival's visitors," he said. "Strong fiscal management means being able to say no."
Barrett, who served as mayor for 26 years and is currently finishing out a two-year term on the City Council, introduced Moulton, calling the former councilor "his candidate" and praising him for having a vision that is focused on the people of the city.
"With me as your mayor, there will be no master plan. There will be an action plan and it will be implemented," Moulton said. "The failed promises and policies of the Alcombright administration have set this city back. My vision will be basic and simple, but it will be doable and it will set us on the road to recovery."
He said the most pressing issue in the city is its growing crime rate.
"My plan is simple -- put more police on the streets and they'll receive the training they need," he said. "I will set the direction and policy of the police department, but you will not see me at the scene of a crime talking to the media -- that's the job of the police director."
Another key component in the battle against crime is the need to address the city's aging housing stock, most of which is falling into disrepair, he said, because of a lack of enforcement.
"Instead of earmarking $44,000 to design a skateboard park, I will use that money to beef up the inspection department," Moulton said.
He also said he would have an economic development strategy based on the 1995 Hyatt-Palma report for the downtown, which would also include finishing the Mohawk Theater renovations and encouraging the development of a bed and breakfast or "funky inn" on Eagle Street.