NORTH ADAMS — The theme of the 64th annual Fall Foliage Parade, held earlier this month in North Adams, was "There's no place like home (in the Berkshires." This reference to "The Wizard of Oz" sparked people's imagination and creativity — as seen in the incredible floats and marching units that offered their visions of life over the rainbow — and it also reminded us all that North Adams is a place people are incredibly proud to call home. I feel this sense of pride as strongly as anyone; that's why I have been so honored to serve as mayor of North Adams, and why I am asking the voters of North Adams to vote for me for a second term.

The animating vision for my campaign is that we are building a city for everyone. This means we all play a role in celebrating and building on our many assets and strengths, and harnessing the incredible economic and social momentum that is fueling our growth. Being a city for everyone also means being clearly focused on tackling head-on the challenges we face.

It involves planning for the long term by investing in our infrastructure. We've added new vehicles to our fleet, and work is underway to replace the city website to make it easier for residents and visitors to access city information and services. We're replacing the roof and improving accessibility at our public safety building. These are important fixes to an old building but we have critical deferred maintenance needs throughout the city; my team and I will be working to update our capital plan in collaboration with staff from the state Division of Local Services.

In order to revitalize and realize the potential of our downtown, I'll continue working with developers and others to focus on housing development. That's why we need to develop a strong marketing plan to promote the city as a place for investment while emphasizing our commitment to inclusive development.

We also need to ensure that the economic development progress we are seeing in the business sector is matched by progress in our neighborhoods. That is why I've hired more police officers, stepped up code enforcement, and am refocusing our Community Development Block Grant strategy to make targeted improvements in areas that need them the most.


Most importantly, the commitment to building a city for everyone means supporting our neighbors, friends, and family members who are struggling. Too many people in our city are dealing with substance misuse and addiction, the effects of domestic violence, and mental health challenges that strain the capacity of our public safety and human services providers to address. These challenges aren't unique to North Adams, but our response draws on the strength of our community. It's been a privilege to work with the recovery community and to sign on to the class action lawsuit to hold drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis, and to work with the lieutenant governor, the district attorney, and others to focus attention on addressing domestic and sexual violence in our region. It's also why I am proud of the process we followed to hire our new police chief who has brought renewed energy to the work of community policing, partnering with our schools, and connecting more deeply with advocates and service providers like the Elizabeth Freeman Center to support and affirm the rights and needs of victims and survivors.

We will continue to address these challenges by drawing on our strengths, and by doing one of the things our city and our region does so well: marrying incredible grass roots energy with city support. We'll use this collaborative spirit to address challenges, just as we have done to build on our momentum which is fueling our growth.

This momentum, which has harnessed the energy of Mass MoCA — a world class destination in its 20th year — has been a catalyst for other developments like Tourists, GreylockWorks, and the 50-plus businesses at the Norad Mill. We've also seen continued strength in our manufacturing sector led by the expansion and new jobs at Stanley Black & Decker as well as Crane & Co.'s dedication to excellence by combining the latest technology with a respect for high quality, handmade craftsmanship. However, economic growth cannot sustain itself without highly qualified employees. To that end, I will keep working with our local business community and the education partners in our public schools and at MCLA to ensure our students have the preparation, skills and training they need to compete for jobs and to build careers and lives in North Adams and Berkshire County.

One of the great joys of public service is getting to work with the caring, dedicated people in North Adams and throughout the county and the Commonwealth. It is a privilege to meet with people and to hear their ideas and concerns. I'm constantly amazed and inspired by people's willingness to step forward, step up, and get involved in our shared work to make our city stronger.

Together, we will build a strong, sustainable community for everyone. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5 so that I can continue working with the residents of North Adams, and to continue earning their trust and support every day as we work together to serve the city that we love.

Thomas Bernard is the mayor of North Adams.