Rachel I. Branch: One to one together

Race for Mayor

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NORTH ADAMS — It is an honor and a privilege to be a candidate for mayor of the city of North Adams. We need 2020 vision — one to one together. A vision that creates ongoing programs and answers to our changing economy, the changing demographics, and the handling of what appears to be gentrification in our city, as well as acknowledging the declining population and our aging community.

Since 1895 I am only the second woman in North Adams history to become a candidate for mayor. I believe my public service background and my extensive experience in city, state, national and international places offer the residents of the city of North Adams solutions that are required of their chief executive.

After returning to North Adams, I continued my ongoing public service in many areas of our civic life: foster care, education, housing, and developmental disabilities. I continue fighting for our environment which began in 1997, including numerous Comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and to Commonwealth agencies, testifying and expecting them to adhere to the 2008 Global Warming Solution. I successfully helped stop Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas from installing a noxious pipeline and produced 30 shows on my Solutions Rising Community TV program. I am still fighting climate catastrophe.

The most meaningful part of my life was becoming a respite care foster parent for children traumatized by violence and/or sexually assaulted, loving, caring for, protecting and supporting each of the 23 children who came to my home. We need to keep a strong, spotlight on our children in foster care, a very serious, major problem.

We need to stop the violence against women and girls and others who have suffered from rape, sexual assault and domestic violence, work that I have been doing for years and continually highlight on Solutions Rising.

The hardest job I ever did was as coordinator of disaster volunteers in April of 1987 after the L'Ambiance Building collapse in Bridgeport, Conn. that killed 28 workers. Those 10 days working with thousands of volunteers, police, firefighters and trade union members indelibly transformed my life. One never forgets!

I believe that all local politics are global and all global politics are local. What we do here in North Adams affects places thousands of miles away.

HOSPITAL ISN'T HISTORY

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Many of you are probably not aware that I was a military wife for nearly five years and lived in Tripoli, Libya, North Africa, for two years until I was caught in the Six-Day Arab/Israeli War in 1967, evacuated to Spain and then flown back to the United States. It is a terrifying experience to be in a war zone. I loved living in Tripoli, became friends with my neighbors who protected our home, and felt great sadness leaving Tripoli.

We need 2020 vision — one to one together — when it comes to being a healthy, warm, colorful and welcoming community, a community that sees the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as a place of hope and home, a community that embraces the changing demographics in the Berkshires and is inspired by those who bring cultural backgrounds that add to the spice of our evolving city.

It more than disturbs me that the present mayor thinks the loss of our community hospital is past history. With over 37,000+ Northern Berkshire residents without hospital beds it just cannot be considered past history, especially with the ongoing opioid/alcohol crisis. We need hospital beds and a mental health wing.

It more than disturbs me that the two-year elementary educational program to paint the columns on Marshall Street were painted over by Mass MoCA, and the present mayor disregards the restoration of those historic paintings about Arnold Prints Works, part of our international North Adams history. Just what does his entrenchment say to all of us, but most of all to the elementary students and their caring teacher who created the program and was empowering them with art and local history?

It more than disturbs me when there are water main breaks, and seasoned citizens in a low-income village and others are without water. Infrastructure needs cannot survive continually being kicked down the road. It is an ongoing mayoral responsibility to ensure that public service systems are up-to-date and needs responsively handled in an ongoing manner. It is essential that our budget be transparent and understandable.

Several years ago there were 26,000 gas leaks in our Commonwealth. After forwarding the list of gas leaks in North Adams to our last mayor, I believe that is why we saw gas leaks being sealed. There is never any excuse for one gas leak in our city, as evidenced by what happened in the Merrimack Valley. Public health and public safety demand no less.

We must answer the questions: "What are we doing for a child today?" and "What are we doing for the most vulnerable in our city?" Each question is pertinent to why I am seeking to become the next North Adams mayor. I am honored to do so, and I hope you will join me in my continuing role as a public servant. We need 2020 vision — one to one together!

Rachel I. Branch is a candidate for mayor of North Adams.


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