North Adams will see fresh faces after City Council voting; other races on voters' agenda
NORTH ADAMS — No matter what the outcome of Tuesday's election, North Adams residents will see some fresh faces in local government.
Robert Moulton Jr., and Thomas Bernard are squaring off in the first North Adams mayoral election to not feature an incumbent in more than 30 years.
All nine at-large members of the City Council are elected every two years, and this year's race features only five incumbents and 11 challengers.
Bernard was the top vote-getter of five candidates in the city preliminary mayoral election in September, but the preliminary election has not always historically proved to be an indicator of who will win in November.
Throughout the election, Moulton has touted his 10 years of experience as a city councilor, as a downtown business owner and as chairman of the North Adams Ambulance Service board of trustees.
Bernard has argued that he has a built a resume that closely resembles the responsibilities of a mayor, with administrative roles at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and now Smith College.
The campaign has largely centered on issues of economic development and how the city can harness the successes of its cultural institutions, public education, and the future of city government and the services it provides its residents.
Bernard has argued that the path to economic development is based on improved education, city infrastructure and public health.
Moulton has argued that Mass MoCA needs to more directly benefit the city's residents. He also has said the city will have to decide what services it can afford and will be sustainable, such as a paid Fire Department.
City Council President Benjamin Lamb and fellow councilors Keith Bona, Eric Buddington, Wayne Wilkinson and Joshua Moran are seeking to win another term, while the newcomers are Paul Hopkins, Rebbecca Cohen, H. Merle Knight, Clarise Vanderburgh, Marie T. Harpin, Ashley Shade, Keifer Gammell, Jason LaForest, Scott Orr, Bryan Sapienza, and Roger Eurbin.
Bona is the longest-serving councilor running for re-election. He sees value in bringing experience back to a council that will include fresh faces, but also has goals he would like to accomplish — like creating financial incentives for homeowners who renovate their properties.
Buddington has served two terms on the council and, this election, has focused on improving the internet services available in North Adams. He is also a frequent advocate for government transparency, supporting an ordinance that requires city boards and commissions to promptly post meeting minutes.
Cohen returned to North Adams five years ago, and is the is director of human resources and compliance for her family's businesses, Tunnel City Transport and Cariddi Auto. Cohen, a graduate of the 1Berkshire Leadership Program, has said she wants to make the city a better place for the next generation.
Eurbin might be best known locally for his yearslong volunteer effort to restore damaged gravesites at the city's Hillside Cemetery. But he has a career in leadership positions and wants the City Council to be a body that listens and responds to the city's residents.
Gammell, who works as visitor services manager at Mass MoCA, is on the boards of the North Adams Farmers Market and the North Adams Chamber of Commerce. He's advocating for using that experience to create a vibrant downtown.
Harpin is the daughter of former longtime City Councilor Marie Harpin and has long been interested in city politics. With a Master of Business Administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Harpin believes her professional experience in finance will be an asset to the council.
Hopkins has spent more than a decade on the Planning Board and is ready to make the jump to the City Council. He wants to see continued investment and growth in the city and reverse its trend of a declining population.
Knight, who has a background in private investigation and moved to North Adams five years ago, wants to provide checks and balances to the mayor. She has focused on public safety and economic development.
LaForest is a nurse who wants to represent residents who struggle to pay their taxes and those who want to see continued investment and growth in the city. He also wants to see the city address the opioid addiction epidemic and associated crime.
Lamb has spent his second term on the City Council as its president. In his next term, Lamb would like to see the city improve its retention of police officers, upgrade its water infrastructure, forge a plan for a new public safety facility and advocate for a drug court in North Adams.
Moran is a two-term city councilor who is passionately outspoken about recreation and health and wellness in North Adams. But he also applies his background in engineering to city management, and has served on a public services committee that oversees city services like the transfer station.
Orr, an operations manager at the North Adams Walmart store, was born and raised in Arkansas and has never run for political office before. But Orr has been a resident of Berkshire County for 20 years and North Adams for 10 years, and he believes his role as a councilor would be to listen to city residents and pass along their ideas.
Sapienza, parts manager for K-M Toyota, wants to balance the needs of people who have lived and worked their whole lives in North Adams with those who are moving to the city. He has advocated for growth while maintaining the city's character.
Shade wants to focus on limiting taxes on city residents while recruiting new businesses and economic growth in the area. Shade is openly transgender and would look to better represent the LGBTQ community.
Vanderburgh has watched City Council meetings as a spectator and wants to get involved. She has criticized tax increases and wants the council to question the proposals before it. Vanderburgh also wants to see the downtown filled with more small businesses.
Wilkinson lost a bid for a second term on the council in 2015, but was appointed to finish the term of resigning City Councilor Nancy Bullett this year. With years of experience on the city's Planning Board, Wilkinson wants the city to address its zoning laws, particularly when it comes to recreational marijuana.
Additional Races on the Ballot
There are three candidates actively campaigning for three open seats on the North Adams School Committee — Ian Bergeron, Raya Kirby and incumbent Heather Putnam Boulger.
James Holmes returned nomination papers and will appear on the ballot as a candidate for the School Committee, but he has notified the City Clerk that he wished to withdraw from the race, according to City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.
Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers are seeking re-election to two open seats on the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School Committee.
All five of the city's wards vote at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center on St. Anthony's Drive. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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