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North Adams Mayoral Field Largest in Years; 16 Qualify for Council Race
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
07:29PM / Monday, August 07, 2017
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voters will narrow down one of the largest mayoral fields in decades this September, with five candidates qualifying for the preliminary election ballot. 
This will also be the first time in decades that an incumbent is not on the ballot -- the last time that happened was in 1983.
The contest for the corner office will be reduced to two on Sept. 19, when Thomas W. Bernard, Rachel I. Branch, Robert R. Moulton Jr., Robert Martelle and Peter J. Oleskiewicz square off.
Bernard was first out of the gate, within days of Mayor Richard Alcombright's announcement he would not seek a fifth term. The city native and current director of special projects at Smith College in Northampton has already held his campaign kick off with a platform focused on education, economic development and public health.
Branch, whose family roots are deep in the city, is an activist and foster parent who has been working to raise awareness of the challenges encountered by society's most vulnerable. A local chapter president of One Billion Rising, she also hosts "Solutions Rising" on cable access television about violence against women and children.
Moulton, who unsuccessfully ran against Alcombright in 2013, is trying again with a focus on his experience as a city councilor and local businessman. His family has operated Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street for many years and he has served five non-consecutive terms on the council, including a term ending this year. 
Martelle also ran for mayor in 2011 and was eliminated in that year's preliminary that saw Alcombright and Ronald Boucher face off in the general election. The city native worked at the aluminum anodizing plant at the time and ran on a platform of bringing jobs to the city and cutting taxes. 
This year's newcomer is Oleskiewicz, who pulled papers on Aug. 2 and handed them in on the Monday deadline, as did Moulton and Martelle. Oleskiewicz does not appear to have run for office before.
Boucher, a current city councilor and mayoral challenger in 2011, had indicated a little over a week ago that a rumored move to Clarksburg was not happening and he was planning to run. However, his Barbour Street home is listed for sale and he did not return papers.
While a preliminary is set for mayor, there will not be enough candidates to hold one for City Council. 
Of the 21 potential candidates who took out papers, two withdrew, two did not return papers and one failed to reach the required amount of signatures. A preliminary election would only be held if there were at least 19 candidates.
Sixteen names will appear on the November ballot for the nine at-large seats; the nine highest vote-getters will be elected. 
The candidates are incumbents Keith Bona, Eric Buddington, Benjamin Lamb, Joshua J. Moran and Wayne Wilkinson; and newcomers Rebbecca A. Cohen, Roger J. Eurbin, Keifer Gammell, Marie T. Harpin, Paul J. Hopkins, H. Merle Knight, Jason M. LaForest, Scott Orr, Bryan A. Sapienza, Ashley Marie Shade, and Clarise R. Vanderburgh. 
Ronald K. Sheldon returned his papers but did not have enough verifiable signatures; Lisa Blackmer, who is running for state representative, and Jessica L. Cramer withdrew and William J. Caprari and Edward L. Lacosse did not return papers. 
With only five incumbents, nearly half the City Council is guaranteed to turn over and of the incumbents, only Bona, who is completing his eighth non-consecutive term, has any significant time on the council. The other four have served no more than two terms. 
Two years ago, eight incumbents ran and seven were returned. 
There will be at least three names for the three open seats on the School Committee: incumbent Heather Putnam Boulger, and newcomers James C. Holmes and Ian D. Bergeron. Raya E. Kirby returned her papers by the 5 p.m. deadline but they have not yet been certified; Peter E. Breen did not return papers. 
Incumbents Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers are running unopposed for McCann School Committee. 
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