Flurry of financial activity marked last days of North Adams mayoral race

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NORTH ADAMS — Campaign finance records released this week show that in the final weeks of a competitive mayoral campaign, both candidates scrambled to fundraise and advertise.

Despite beginning the campaign at a significant financial disadvantage, challenger and former Mayor John Barrett III outspent Mayor Richard Alcombright $21,138.78 to $14,450 in the period between Oct. 17 and Dec. 31 of last year.

Alcombright defeated Barrett for a fourth term on Nov. 3, sweeping all five city wards and winning by a margin of 2,430 votes to Barrett's 2,054.

The incumbent pulled in several major donations in the final weeks of the campaign; four donors gave his campaign $1,000, the maximum allowed in one election cycle under state law.

In contrast to the 2013 election — which he won by a wider margin — Alcombright spent down almost all of his campaign funds in 2015. According to his report, he ended the year with a balance of $641.

Alcombright's campaign spent $13,124 from Oct. 17 through the end of the year, for a total of $31,286 in 2015. Barrett's reported expenditures totaled $30,281 in 2015 and ended the year with a balance of just $24.

In the days leading up to election day, Alcombright's report shows the campaign spent $1,673 on radio advertising with WNAW; $1,275 to an Oregon-based company that conducted robocalls, and $2,673 to Bona Marketing for mailers, stickers, T-shirts and fundraising tickets.

Barrett invested heavily in mailers in the weeks leading to the election; the campaign finance documents show five payments to Becks Printing totaling nearly $10,000 and payments to the Postal Service totaling nearly $7,000. The campaign also hired Adams-based Gargain Communication for communications services, including $1,119 on Facebook advertising, and paid WUPE-FM $952 for radio advertising.

Only one of Alcombright's 10 largest donors — who shelled out a combined $6,000 — had a North Adams address; seven listed addresses in Williamstown, one in Pownal, Vt., and one in Stockbridge.

Similarly, one of Barrett's 10 largest donors during the reporting period had a North Adams address. They donated a combined $4,150.

"We ran a grass-roots campaign, the people in North Adams really stepped up to the plate," Barrett said. "Nearly 50 percent of our contributions were $50 or less and that was the whole basis of my campaign."

Williamstown residents Katherine Peabody and William "Bo" Peabody, whose occupation is listed as a Venture Partner at Greycroft Partners, LLC, each donated $1,000 to Alcombright's efforts on Oct. 29. Artist Richard Morgenthal of Pownal, Vt., and Williamstown resident John Strachan also each chipped in $1,000.

Other notable names among the list of Alcombright donors in the days leading up to the election included Main Street Hospitality Group owner Nancy Fitzpatrick ($250) and BART Charter School Executive Director Julia Bowen ($250).

Echoing arguments he made throughout the campaign, Barrett said "special interests from outside North Adams really funded the mayor's campaign."

"I rely on anyone who is motivated in any way shape or form to see the city of North Adams and the greater Northern Berkshires succeed," Alcombright said.

Barrett's largest donation during the reporting period was $650 from North Adams resident David Whitney, part-owner of Whitney's Beverage.

Barrett received $500 donations from investment banker Brian Lee and Esther Lee of Mclean, Va., as well as from Katherine Kryzanski, a Chestnut Hill resident and employee of Babson College.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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