Mayor Alcombright cast wide net for donations during campaign
NORTH ADAMS -- The city’s two mayoral candidates ran two very different campaigns in 2013, campaign finance documents show.
Incumbent and eventual winner Richard Alcombright outspent and outraised challenger Robert Moulton Jr., by more an almost 3-to-1 margin, ending the year with a campaign surplus while Moulton went more than $5,000 into the red. Moulton reported a total of $8,727 in fundraising compared to Alcombright’s $23,931.
Alcombright, who received money from a relatively wide geographical range of donors, was able to spend significantly more than Moulton on campaign mailers, advertisements in local print, and radio, and other campaign-related expenses.
"I fully expected to be outspent," Moulton said. "I didn’t want it to be about money, I wanted it to be about me."
Moulton had to personally foot the bill for the $6,451 more his campaign spent than it raised, he said, but added that he doesn’t regret the expenditures.
Of the itemized donors to Alcombright’s campaign (all those who gave $50 or more), about half had addresses listed outside of North Adams. Moulton’s campaign listed no contributions from outside the city, a point he made throughout the campaign.
Of the $18,355 in itemized donations to Alcombright’s campaign, about 70 percent came from donors who listed their residences as outside of the city. The majority of Alcombright’s funding came in donations larger than $50, and were itemized.
Alcombright said donors from around the area were attracted to his campaign by his open style of government and willingness to hear new ideas.
"What does it hurt? What is a negative?" Alcombright said of accepting donations from people across the region. "I’ve reached out to all of the entities regionally for how we can collaborate. I don’t leave any door unopened."
Alcombright’s campaign also attracted more-prominent donors from around the county and beyond. Ellen Kennedy, president of Berkshire County Community College, gave $200, despite not living in the city. John DeRosa, a city attorney, donated $500.
"Ellen [Kennedy] and I speak periodically about how do we get more of our students from North Adams down to Berkshire Community College," Alcombright said, including discussing improving public transportation between the city and Pittsfield.
Kenneth Pendery, CEO of First Watch, Inc., which owns the First Watch chain of breakfast restaurants, gave $500, and Nancy Fitzpatrick, owner of the Red Lion Inn in Lenox, also shelled out $500.
"I think it’s fairly simple from my perspective," Alcombright said on how he was able to raise campaign funds. "I think we’ve provided a very open style of government, we’ve shown proven growth in small businesses, and even in larger businesses."
Alcombright also pointed out that there were many donors to his campaign from North Adams that made, $25, $50, and even $100 contributions.
Political opponents have frequently pointed to Alcombright’s embrace of campaign money from outside the city, but he contends that the people who donated have also brought capital to the city.
"If we don’t grow, we’re going to die," he said. "If that means I need to court people from outside the area and get them to buy into the idea they can help ... I just don’t see a downside that, and I would challenge anyone to find it for me."
Moulton, for his part, said he didn’t really seek campaign funds. His largest single campaign contribution was attributed to a spaghetti dinner fundraising event at the American Legion.
"I wanted to go door to door, meet people," he said. "We knocked on doors and we were happy with what we did."
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