Our Opinion: Key election campaigns in North Berkshire

The stage is now set for two North Berkshire election campaigns that will provide an opportunity to air out views on all the issues facing those communities — and most specifically the city of North Adams.

John Barrett III defeated three challengers in the 1st Berkshire District's special preliminary election Tuesday and will now face Republican Christine Canning on Nov. 7 for the right to complete the late Gailanne Cariddi's term in the State House. Mr. Barrett, who was at one time the longest-serving mayor in the state, lost his bid for a 14th term as mayor of North Adams in 2009 and was defeated by Mayor Richard Alcombright in his bid to return to office in 2015. While it may have seemed that Mr. Barrett's long political career was over, he proved two years later that he could still bring voters to the polls, handily winning North Adams and Adams in the nine-town district.

Stephanie Bosley, who decisively captured Williamstown, finished second and demonstrated that the newcomer has a political future. Like Ms. Bosley, Lisa Blackmer and Kevin Towle proved to be worthy candidates, and we hope all will stay involved in government and politics. North Berkshire, like all of Berkshire County, needs fresh ideas and perspectives.

The race between John Barrett and Christine Canning is sure to focus on jobs and the economy, a defining and complex subject in the district. Education funding is another critical issue, and we would like to see a thorough discussion of the possibility of greater cooperation, if not a merger, between the North Adams and Adams school districts by the two candidates in the weeks ahead.

Following three decades in which either Mr. Barrett or Mr. Alcombright was mayor, North Adams will have a fresh face in the city's top office. Political newcomer Thomas Bernard and City Councilor Robert Moulton Jr. will square off November 7 in the race to succeed Mr. Alcombright, who chose not to run for re-election.

The issues of the economy and education sure to dominate the 1st Berkshire District race will be mirrored in North Adams. The city's crime rate and opioid addiction crisis should also be front and center. A packed City Council race in which 17 candidates will vie for nine seats will provide a further opportunity to debate the problems facing the city as well as how best to build upon the city's strengths. (While Pittsfield does not have a mayoral race this year its chance to air out issues comes in the campaigns for the four at large City Council spots and the five contested ward races.)

There is nothing like an election campaign to bring town, city and regional issues, problems and opportunities to the foreground. Let's make the most of this chance in the short weeks before Election Day.


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