Alcombright Elected to Third Term, But Political Tug of War Remains

Nov 6, 2013

Democrat Richard Alcombright greets supporters at the MediTerra restaurant in North Adams after being elected to a third term.
Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC

Voters in North Adams, Massachusetts have elected Richard Alcombright to a third two-year term as mayor. But, the political tug of war isn’t lightening up.

During his victory speech, Democratic Mayor Richard Alcombright said unity is the most important political issue in the city. But he then referenced John Barrett, who served as mayor for 26 years before being defeated by Alcombright in 2009.

“If I thought in 2009 even for one second when I decided to run that it would be this politically ugly in this city I would never have run for mayor,” Alcombright said. “It is very evident that in 2009, 2011 and now in 2013 despite different faces, I have run each time against John Barrett and I have now beat him three times.”

Republican challenger Robert Moulton Jr., a former city councilor, had this to say after his defeat.

“Barrett was one of my advisors,” Moulton said. “To say he beat John Barrett, I don’t think that’s true, I’m kind of surprised he said that. That was my campaign. I decided to run this. He was one of many advisors and he is a very helpful person. 26 years as mayor, the experience he has is tremendous. I have no regrets for using him as an advisor, but Dick Alcombright beat Bob Moulton this time.”

Barrett serves on the city council, but did not seek reelection this year. Here’s what Alcombright had to say when asked about the earlier statement regarding Barrett.

“Let’s give him credit where credit is due,” the mayor said. “He’s a 26-year mayor, longest serving mayor in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. But, there’s just a tension between John Barrett and I ever since I won that first election. He ran for council, he’s been on for two years. That tension carried through. The last two years were, quite honestly, the most miserable of my life. So I think that has to go away. We can’t have these negative influences constantly pulling down a positive administration trying to do positive things. Yes we can disagree. Let’s disagree on whatever we need to. God bless America, that’s democracy, but let’s just keep it from getting ugly.”

Barrett says Alcombright should be focusing on the city, not on political wins and losses.

“Did I oppose him on policy? Did I oppose him on some of the things that he was doing? Yes,” Barrett said. “I felt as though he was doing things that weren’t in the best interest of the city, but that’s a difference of opinion. It’s almost like being amateur in dealing with this. He has to understand in politics, you have a difference of opinion, you want to do things different, you have different philosophies and you fight for your opinion, but you don’t take it personal. Unfortunately he’s done that. That’s too bad because that’s not in the best interest of the city.”

Alcombright received 59 percent of the vote, saying his administration’s record over the past four years is resonating with voters.

“It’s just more of the same,” Alcombright said. “Keeping my feet to the fire. More economic development, more expansion, more business. Whatever we can do to grow this community.”

Receiving 41 percent of the vote, Moulton points toward voter apathy for his defeat, as roughly 3,600 people headed to the polls.

“I don’t what he’s going to do with the budget,” Moulton said. “I don’t where he is going to find that money. That’s going to be very interesting and it’s going to fall back on the taxpayers again.”

Tony Abuisi says he has been an Alcombright supporter since the very beginning.

“We’ve got a lot of good things going now, why stop it?” said Abuisi.

Surprised by the result, Bob Felix says he is concerned about the city’s management and its future.

“Probably looking to move,” Felix explained. “I mean I think it’s that bad here. We’ve gone from a beautiful little city up in the hills and it’s been fantastic living here. I’ve been here for 65 years and it’s great. But, the last political decisions plus not totally the people in power now, but just economics, factories leaving has turned this into a very bad area.”

Moulton says he doesn’t see himself re-entering politics in the near future, but will be staying active locally. Alcombright says he is considering running again in 2015 if he continues to see progress in the city.