NORTH ADAMS -- Four years ago, Mayor Richard J. Alcombright launched his first campaign for the city's corner office with a pledge of open, honest and transparent government, fiscal responsibility and collaboration -- all things he believes he has delivered throughout his tenure.
He renewed those promises and pledged to continue to make public safety a priority before a crowd of nearly 90 supporters during the official kick off of his campaign for a third term at MediTerra on Thursday. Among those showing their support were Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy and City Councilors Marie Harpin, Alan Marden, Michael Bloom, Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer, Nancy Bullett and Jennifer Breen.
"We still have much to do. We have to continue to work collaboratively We need to push hard on local and state law enforcement to put the hurt on anyone who wants to sell drugs in North Adams," Alcombright said. "In that same vein, we need to work hard with local legislators and health care professionals to find solutions for those with mental health and addiction issues. Public Safety continues to be a priority for me, as the city continues to deal with issues that are pervasive in more urban communities."
He noted a recent incident in which three people were injured as they left a local bar.
"I am certain that many of you know the circumstances of that event," Alcombright said. "The day of the incident, I made the decision to close that bar. With the commitment of our Public Safety Dept. and our License Commission it was closed that day and it remains closed today. Our crime issues for the large part are drug and alcohol related and we need to figure out a way to fix that."
Richard Taskin, who co-hosts a monthly cable access television show with the mayor, touted Alcombright's strong ties to the community and his style of leadership at the beginning of the evening.
"Our mayor is a person with a strong sense of our community's heritage, which influenced his decision to try to preserve St. Francis Church," Taskin said. "It was also his decision to save [the former Silvio O. Conte Middle School] -- ensuring that once again it is going to be a vital public school in the heart of the downtown. Our mayor is a man of faith, and a person with faith in people. He's one of those people that understands that sometimes the best thing government can do is get out of the way. There is no better testament to that, then what happened last week at Mass MoCA with the third Solid Sound Festival, which according to one Jeff Tweedy was the most successful yet with 7,500 people attending."
During his speech, Alcombright championed the progress made over the last four years -- economic growth through new and expanding businesses, collaboration with neighboring towns, the strengthening of partnerships with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Mass MoCA, and greater governmental fiscal responsibility.
"It hasn't been an easy two terms," he said. "The city continues to feel the effects of the six-year recession and our efforts to downsize government have been huge. We have done a great job at holding our expense growth. But there's a darkness in this city brought on by a few people who I truly believe do not want to see this city succeed. Despite destructive efforts, we have a clear mission within my administration to make things happen with vision and the collaboration of many."
Alcombright aknowledged that he may make mistakes from time to time.
"Have you liked everything I've done? I don't think so, but that's OK. My own mother tells me the things I've done wrong. What's important is that we need to agree on two things: that we love this city and want to see it grow. If we have those two things in common, we can work together."