North Adams, Massachusetts has elected a new mayor.
Tom Bernard will be the next mayor of Massachusetts’ smallest city after winning a two-year term Tuesday.
Bernard, a city resident who works as the Director of Special Projects at Smith College in Northampton, garnered 2,404 votes, compared to City Councilor Bob Moulton Jr.’s 1,023 in the non-partisan election.
“And let’s wake up tomorrow ready to roll up our sleeves, work together, reach across the aisle where we need to and recommit to ourselves to our shared work to the city that we love,” Bernard says. “To North Adams.”
In a statement, Moulton said “the voters spoke tonight” and congratulated Bernard on a “convincing victory.”
"The voters spoke tonight," Moulton says. "I listened to the people and fought for the common resident. I truly appreciate this city and had nothing but the best interest for you all in my campaign. The future is an enormous task both financially as well as bridging our community to some form of unity. I congratulate Tom Bernard on a convincing victory for the position of mayor. I offer my support and willing to help this community in any way.”
It’s the first without an incumbent in more than three decades. Mayor Richard Alcombright announced in June he would not seek a fifth term.
Bernard stood outside the polling center in North Adams describing his vision: a comprehensive plan to work with the region’s anchor institutions to promote economic development growth.
“When we look at the jobs that are available, we make sure that we are matching the workforce that are here with the jobs,” Bernard says.
Bernard says this might mean promoting transportation efforts so that workers can commute to jobs across the county. He wants to make the city an attractive and affordable place for young families to live.
Bernard hopes to create a business development director position. That person would meet with prospective employers and investors to better connect companies with the city.
“It’s a necessary strategy,” Bernard says. “The limiting factor being the budget flexibility to do it. And it is a job that you need someone going out on the road to bring, to make the case for North Adams to employers and companies looking for a place to locate that have the assets that we have to offer.”
Bernard wants to craft a long-term plan to fix the city’s commercial tax rate without putting any additional strain on taxpayers. He says he’d accomplish that by making government more transparent to show residents how flexible the city’s budget is. He took note of the layoffs Pittsfield needed this year to cut costs, and is concerned about North Adams’ rising levy limit.
“One of the ideas that I really like is what Northampton does which is they have basically a visual budget tool. So you take your tax bill and you plug it in and it will break out by account and by functional area where your dollars are going,” Bernard says.
Working alongside the new mayor will be a new city council: incumbents Ben Lamb, Keith Bona, Eric Buddington, Joshua Moran, and Wayne Wilkinson; and newcomers: Rebbecca Cohen, Paul Hopkins, Marie Harpin, and Jason LaForest.
Retiring Mayor Alcombright will lead North Adams until the end of the year.
Meantime, in Pittsfield, incumbents Kevin Morandi, Nick Caccamo, Chris Connell, Donna Todd Rivers, Anthony Simonelli, Melissa Mazzeo, Peter White, Peter Marchetti, and John Krol, and newcomers Helen Moon and Earl Persip III will make up the city council.
Mayor Linda Tyer is halfway through Pittsfield’s first four-year mayoral term.