NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Mayor Richard J. Alcombright has been re-elected for a fourth term.
Alcombright bested former longtime Mayor John Barrett III, winning 2,430 votes, compared to Barrett's 2,054.
Of the city's total 8,689 registered voters, 4,513 turned out for the mayoral election, representing a turnout of roughly 52 percent.
"I'd like to congratulate John (Barrett III)," Alcombright said after the results were announced. "This isn't easy for anyone, and they ran a good race and had a lot of support. My hope is that tomorrow we'll wake up and all of us will work together as a community to move things forward."
At the American Legion, Barrett supporters gathered and consoled one another. The former mayor, who said he'll retire from city politics, exchanged hugs and well wishes with his voters.
"We ran a positive 10-week campaign and we stuck to the issues," Barrett said. "I just have to turn the page...I will depart from the scene, it's as simple as that."
Barrett lamented the "negative, vicious campaign" run against him.
"It's hard to believe that I was mayor for 26 years...and they could take make and turn me into whatever it is they turned me into," Barrettt said.
Alcombright thanked this supporters for all of their hard work and said that now the election is over, his number one priority would be to get Colegrove Park Elementary School open.
"We want to get our kids settled in there as quickly as possible," he said.
Alcombright added that he would celebrate his win by treating his girlfriend to pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and then get back to work.
"We have to get back to pushing all of these projects forward," he said.
While there weren't lines out of the door, staff working the polls reported a steady flow of voters throughout the day.
Turnout predictions for this year's race were higher than for the 2013 mayoral election, which saw about 3,650 voters cast a ballot for a mayoral candidate. By early afternoon, more voters had turned out for Tuesday's election than had cast ballots in the entire preliminary election.
More than 700 residents took advantage of extended polling hours, which allowed voters to cast a ballot beginning at 7 a.m. for the first time in recent city election history. Polls closed at 7 p.m.
Barrett, out of office since Alcombright bested him by a margin of 3,046 votes to 2,166 in the 2009 election, filed nomination paperwork to jump into the race on the last possible day in August and has campaigned vigorously since.
The former 13-term mayor resoundingly defeated Alcombright and candidate Eric Rudd in the city's September preliminary election, appearing poised for a strong general election showing thanks to what he described as a "grassroots" effort. Sweeping all five of the city's wards in the preliminary, Barrett won 1,240 votes compared to Alcombright's 974 votes and Rudd's 204.
Running for mayor for the 15th time, Barrett boasted "proven leadership," as a campaign slogan, but also maintained he has new ideas and different priorities for the city's development. Alcombright has defended his six-year record in campaign literature and painted himself as a more transparent, welcoming mayor with the slogan "together we move forward."
The discussion and debate in 2015 has mirrored that of 2009 — focusing on economic development, community development, taxes and government transparency. Many residents appeared to quickly entrench themselves in the same camps they did six years ago.
In his campaign literature, Barrett promised he would advocate for the return of a full-service hospital in North Adams, use federal grant funding to enhance community policing and attack blight, and return to fiscal responsibility. In the two mayoral debates held prior to the election, Barrett criticized Alcombright's plans to use Community Development Block Grant funding for the construction of a nearly $700,000 skate park near Noel Field.
Alcombright's campaign defended his record of taxation, noting that the tax levy increased by a smaller percentage during his six years in office than it did in Barrett's final six years in office. The three-term mayor trumpeted recent private development spurred in the city, including the renovation of the former Cariddi Mill and the Redwood Motel. As he did in 2009, Alcombright portrayed himself as a more transparent mayor whose door is always open.
With a late start, Barrett began his campaign in August at a steep financial disadvantage to Alcombright. But the Barrett campaign quickly gained traction, raising $14,341.00 to Alcombright's $10,953 in reported donations during the period from Sept. 4 to Oct. 16.
Over the year, however, Alcombright still reported expenditures of $18,161.76 to Barrett's $9,142.92. The final campaign finance reports, which will cover spending and receipts from Oct. 16 through election day, will not be available until later this month.