Robert Moulton Jr.: Average residents need help

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NORTH ADAMS — Speaking with the people of North Adams every single day, it is clear to me that we need to change our approach. Our residents are deeply concerned about crime and the recent report that showed we have the worst per capita in the state. Our residents are concerned about water quality as our city water department has been cited multiple times for non-compliance. They have grown weary with taxes that continue to skyrocket with very little in return on that investment.

And, finally, the average resident of North Adams is concerned about a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. While institutions like Mass MoCA and MCLA seem to be succeeding, that success is not contributing enough to our city's economy and to the quality of life for a vast majority of our residents. We need to do much better.

We have gone far too long without taking on our crime issues with enough of a sense of urgency. The current state of affairs is completely unacceptable. We know where many of our crime problems are in the city. We also often have a good idea of when it's happening. We need to be smarter and more proactive. There are steps we can take immediately to better allocate the time and talent of our police force. Personally, I have an excellent rapport with our police department, from the director to patrol officers and everyone in between. We need to do a better job listening to our police and the community to take a better approach and aggressively stamp out crime.

Providing quality water is a fundamental responsibility of a city. Under the current administration, the city was cited by the state Department of Environmental Protection for failing to properly maintain the pH level of its water supply for the last three years. This type of failure could lead to more corrosion in water pipes and increase lead and copper in the city's drinking water. In addition, the DEP called on our water department to take corrective measures after coliform bacteria was discovered in our water this past summer. The current administration has been asleep at the wheel while the quality of our water has been placed at-risk.

Water system opportunity

If elected, I will immediately create an ad hoc committee to study the pros and cons of privatizing our water operations. The committee will provide a recommendation within the first several weeks of my administration. We have an opportunity to ensure our water quality for years to come, while also giving some relief to our taxpayers. We need to take that opportunity and move forward with it.

Tax increases have spiraled out of control under the current administration. The cost of providing the same services continues to increase, so we need to be innovative in increasing revenues and controlling costs. North Adams families choosing to send their children to other school districts account for hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue annually. My opponent says he wants to improve our schools but gives no prescription on how to do so. As mayor, I will insist on stronger standards in our district and work with our neighboring communities to consider partnerships that will make our dollars go further in educating our children. Considering the privatization of our water services is another way to curb tax increases, and I will take a comprehensive approach across all city services to determine where adjustments can be make to increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.

And finally, to the outside world, North Adams is a hip up-and-coming little city. The success of Mass MoCA and others in the cultural economy should be celebrated and supported. However, this success has not translated to benefit the average North Adams resident. Our major institutions, Mass MoCA and MCLA operate too much like silos in our community. Rather than economic impact positively spilling into our downtown and in the form of revenue to lessen the burden on taxpayers, there is too much isolation. This is not the fault of these institutions, it has been the lack of city leadership to make it happen. As the next mayor of North Adams, I will make it a priority to be innovative and creative in finding ways to make share the success of our major institutions with all the people of our city.

Today, our city needs someone who will get things done. We do not have time for a long learning curve, as North Adams may soon confront the Proposition 2 levy challenge that the city of Pittsfield has already encountered, necessitating painful cuts. We need to take proactive measures today with a leader who has experience in government and as a seasoned businessperson.

I suggest I am that leader and I ask for your vote for mayor of North Adams on Nov. 7.

Robert Moulton Jr. is a candidate for mayor of North Adams.


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