Barrett starts term without an office at North Adams City Hall
NORTH ADAMS — As state Rep. John Barrett III steps into office this week, he lacks one thing: an actual office.
Mayor Richard Alcombright removed the state representative's office from City Hall effective Nov. 8, leaving the incoming Barrett without a home base.
Barrett, who was sworn in at the Statehouse on Wednesday, won the Nov. 7 special state election to replace former 1st Berkshire District Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, who died in June.
But Alcombright had notified Cariddi's legislative aide, Kevin Towle, in a Sept. 25 letter that he needed to vacate the office on the second floor of City Hall — a decision Alcombright said had nothing to do with the resurgence of his former political rival.
"I had let Gail Cariddi use that office actually free of charge for however many years Gail was in office," Alcombright said.
With a new mayor and new state representative coming into office, he would leave the office's fate "up to the new mayor."
Alcombright, who did not seek a fifth term this year, denied that the move was intended to prevent Barrett, who served as mayor for 26 years before losing mayoral elections to Alcombright in 2009 and 2015, from having a place in City Hall.
"My conversations with Kevin were certainly well in advance of the primary," Alcombright said.
Alcombright also said the city has been planning a reconfiguration of the office space at City Hall, which could result in less free space in the building.
"That would eliminate the need for that [office] to be there anyway," Alcombright said.
Mayor-elect Thomas Bernard said he has yet to make any decisions about the layout of City Hall.
"Between now and Jan. 1, it's the current mayor's call to make. The representative and I will sit down and talk about that, but I have to look at the status of the entire building," Bernard said. "I'm not going to commit to any space decisions until [Jan. 1]."
Barrett said he would have liked to be able to use the office until the new year. He has kept Towle, who is working from home, as legislative aide in the near term.
"I'm just in a state of limbo because I have to wait for the new mayor to come in," Barrett said.
He said he'd also like to have a presence in one of the district's other towns, and will be on the search for a space in one of them. The 1st Berkshire District includes the city of North Adams and the towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford and Williamstown.
Barrett brushed aside suggestions that the move might have been politically motivated, and said it's the current mayor's "decision to make."
The state representative said that with a new mayor coming in, it makes sense for him to find an office outside City Hall, but said he still hopes to have a space in a public building in North Adams.
"I think it's probably best that when [Bernard] is coming into office, he doesn't need a former mayor in [City Hall]," Barrett said. "But I would've liked to have the last two months."
Adam Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-496-6376.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.