"I believe we are at a very important crossroad with respect to the future of North Adams," he said, flanked by his wife, Michelle, and family, friends and supporters.
"New leadership is necessary as we move into this next decade, a time that promises recovery and growth. By engaging the largely untapped abundance of human energy and creativity in the city, we will not only weather the current economic crisis, but we will also position the city to move continually forward."
Alcombright, vice president of retail banking at Hoosac Bank, said he has been a strong supporter of Mayor John Barrett III and his vision for the city, but it is time for new leadership to carry the city into the future. Barrett, the longest-serving mayor in Massachusetts, is completing his 13th two-year term.
"I believe, as many residents do, that there is a need for change and the time for that change is now," Alcombright said.
He later added, "We've ridden the Mass MoCA wave for years now. It's time that we decide who we are as a community. Are we an arts-based community? Are we a creative-economy community? We need to ask how much industry we need in the city and how much technology we can carry. We need to get our business leaders involved and work with
He said his campaign will offer "new ideas and innovative strategies" centered on three categories: Housing, education and the economy and economic development.
"While the economy is at an all-time low, our ability to plan is at an all time high - we can unleash and unharness the energy of our residents," Alcombright said. "We have so many people in our community who are itching to get involved. I will create an inclusive and transparent environment in which all of the citizens of North Adams will be invited to provide ideas that benefit our community. To accomplish our goals, I will foster a long-term plan that will grow out of a shared vision, be directed by strong leadership, and result in community success."
A member of the McCann School Committee for the past 16 years, he said that experience would lend itself to the mayor's other duty of being in charge of the school committee.
"I think whether or not the mayor should be head of the school committee is a conversation that needs to be explored in itself," Alcombright said. "I also think that we need to fully utilize our very intelligent and talented school committee, giving them more responsibility through various subcommittees. I think we need to utilize the talents of all of our boards and committee members."
Barrett said he welcomed a challenge from a worthy opponent.
"I think what it will all boil down to is who the people think will be the best leader during these economic times," he said by phone from his office. "The city is facing a $2.5 million budget gap, and that is where my time has been consumed of late. I'm trying to keep taxes in the city low, which has been the hallmark of my administration."
The mayor added, "I fully realize this will be a race. Dick Alcombright is a well-liked man, and he is running against a mayor who has been in office for 26 years and who has had to make the tough decisions throughout those years. I have always made decisions with the best intentions for the community in mind."
Barrett said he will make a formal announcement in the coming months, after he has completed the city budget, crafted a financial strategy "to get the city through the next two years" and worked to bring "millions of dollars of stimulus money" to the city.
"I have no problem with anyone calling for change, but I do take issue with his statements about Mass MoCA," he said of Alcom bright. "Mass MoCA has been a catalyst for economic development, not only in this city, but throughout Northern Berkshire. The LeWitt retrospective, which opened less than six months ago, has brought national recognition and new business inquiries to the city every day."
Alcombright was joined at his announcement by former City Administrator Mary Katherine Eade, who works as an assistant attorney general in Springfield, along with former City Councilor Keith Bona and Councilor Robert Moulton Jr.
"Over the last few years, people have discussed who could win an election against the mayor and who would be a good mayor," Bona said. "Those are two different qualities. Dick has always and clearly been at the top of both those lists. I think you can see that when you look at the votes he has received over the last few elections."
Moulton said he also believes the city needs a new leader.
"The mayor has done a fine job over the years, but I think there comes a time when change is needed and a new leader needs to be chosen," he said. "Dick is that man. He has a lot of experience with budgets and on the school committee. He's a fine choice. It's going to be an interesting seven to eight months."
Alcombright, who joined the council in 2000, after he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of his late father, Daniel F. Alcombright Jr., is also a member of the board of directors of several community boards, including the Northern Berkshire YMCA, Holy Family Housing Terrace and Berk shire Community Action Council's Individual Development Account Committee. He has also served as a corporator of Northern Berk shire Health Care. He has served as chairman of several boards, including the Northern Berkshire United Way Campaign, North Adams Catholic Com munity Tri-Parish Finance Coun cil, and Transportation Asso ciation of Northern Berkshire.
Alcombright also announced a Web site for his candidacy: www.alcombrightformayor.com.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, e-mail email@example.com.