Thanks for checking out our elections coverage. We try to cover at least one race a year in an in-depth, meaningful way, and 2019 finds us at it again. The only difference is that James Kennedy, artist and founder of the much-loved “Unsung Eats” column here at the Glass, has wrested control of the interview-ometer away from the editors this time around. In an act of tremendous ambition (or lunacy) he committed to interviewing ALL the candidates for North Adams City Council (assuming they all got back to him). We hope you enjoy this campaign season series, brought to you as a service to the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power.
Editor’s Note: This conversation has been abridged for space and clarity. No information provided by the candidate has been checked for accuracy.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a 65 year old disabled person that is trying to make life better for disabled people in North Adams. I’ve been a resident of North Adams for about 25 years or more. My disability is from being hit by a drunken driver. I am hard working and persistent in getting things done. I graduated from the GED program at MCLA in 2004 and now I tutor students there that are going for their GED. I volunteer for the Al Nelson food project on Eagle Street and I’m also on their financial board. I also work part time at Goodwill.
2019 Elections — North Adams City Council,
Why did you decide to run for North Adams City Council and what is it that you think separates you from the other candidates?
Knowing how disabled people think and have to struggle to get around, I think it would be good to have someone disabled on the city council to help the disabled and not just the regular people. Not enough people speak up for the disabled. I have trouble getting into places and getting around myself. Sometimes the outer doors on different places are automatic but the inner doors are not and I find myself waiting for someone to come through and open the door for me.
What do you regard as the most important issue facing North Adams today and do you have a particular issue that you will be running on?
I’d like to make the town look a little better and have more housing being built and have more people come into town. If there is a particular issue that I’m running on, it’s to help the disabled.
What is your opinion about the pros and cons of gentrification and what role do you see it playing today and in the future of North Adams?
I see it playing with MASS MoCA and the Berkshire Works. Over there if they have a few houses or apartments I’d like to see that some of the rents are going to be for the low income. Maybe make it like a half and half with half being for low income or something like that. Keep it fair for the little guy. It’s about time that North Adams is really doing things. I see this as a good thing. I’d like to see the city do something with the Mohawk Theatre on Main Street. They spent all that money for the outside but they still don’t use it for anything.
Whether real or imagined, there is a perception that there is a water quality issue in North Adams. Do you believe there is a water quality problem, and if so, what solutions do you offer?
As far as I know there isn’t a problem with the water. I haven’t heard a word on a problem.
In order for many municipalities to balance their budgets, oftentimes larger infrastructure projects and investments get kicked down the road rather than raise property taxes. What is your plan for a balanced budget?
I think we should take it as we go. Sometimes you might have to raise the taxes to do something good. Alcombright was my favorite mayor. He got me into the pain clinic and in my case it’s back pain. I have to get shots every so often. It took me a year and I was just around in a circle and they sent me a letter saying that I got an appointment and then two weeks before they cancelled it and gave me another appointment four months from then. His mother goes there so somehow Alcombright was able to help me. The streets last winter, I got stuck three times just going over the bridge the way they plowed it. I’d like to see a little bit more care for the disabled. With this scooter I’m I, I wrecked the whole frame on this pothole over at the American Legion. It was lower than the sidewalk so it made a mess. They put a little bit of tar over it now but I don’t trust it. If I found myself on the council I would like to work on the issues of the disabled.
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