|North Adams Mayor Bernard Will Not Run for Third Term|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
12:01PM / Tuesday, February 23, 2021
|Mayor Thomas Bernard declares an emergency back in March 2020 because of the pandemic The mayor said Tuesday that he will not run for a third term in November. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Thomas Bernard on Tuesday announced he would not be running for a third term.
Instead, he will focus his efforts on the agenda he'd been re-elected on in 2019 that had been disrupted by the novel coronavirus.
"I would rather focus on work, I would rather make my intentions clear now to open the field," he said on Tuesday morning. "And then leave things in as good a shape as I can for the next mayor of the city of North Adams."
The mayor planned to inform City Hall of his decision before making a public announcement.
This will be only the second time in nearly 40 years that an incumbent will not be on the ballot in November.
Bernard said his decision has been made over the last several weeks after talking with family, friends and members of his campaign.
Trying to implement policies for fiscal sustainability and address the infrastructure woes of the city while running for office would not be "viable," he said.
"The past couple weeks has really shown that the agenda that we've been been following isn't necessarily where the community wants to go," Bernard said.
He came to the conclusion "that I really would rather do the work right now than put the attention on the end of the campaign."
Bernard was elected the city's 26th mayor in a landslide in 2017 and returned to office two years later with 80 percent of the vote. He referred to President Johnson's Great Society in a hopeful inaugural address as the city entered its 125th year.
But barely three months into his second two-year term, the nation went into shutdown because of COVID-19, throwing budgets and programs into chaos.
A hiring and spending freeze was in effect for most of last year until a budget could be passed in early fall. Buildings were closed, employees were out for weeks or days because of sickness or exposure from the pandemic and the school system struggled to get the city's children fed, educated and back in the classroom. Even so, the city was able to sell off old properties, make zoning changes, begin looking at renovations for Greylock School and launch a new website.
Then the second month into this new year, decades-old problems with the water and hydrant system and public safety building dramatically resurfaced. It was soon apparent that these issues would play a dominant role in the upcoming election.
"I'm disappointed that important work hasn't gotten done and now we're doing it in a way that's really reactive," Bernard said. "That's never a good position for any leader or team to start from."
The mayor said this year's focus will be on the annual budget, the capital plan and how close the levy ceiling will be as he ends his term. He hasn't spent too much time yet reflecting on his successes.
"I'm proud of some of the foundational work that we've done ... the work that isn't necessarily flashy," Bernard said, such as the updating zoning for cannabis — and its future revenue. "I'm really proud to have worked with the team that I've worked with, really good people who do good work day in and day out."
Below is the statement released by Bernard shortly before noon:
MAYOR TOM BERNARD WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION
North Adams (February 23, 2021) - North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard announced today that he will not seek a third term during this year's municipal election cycle. Mayor Bernard issued the following statement regarding his decision:
I love the City of North Adams, and it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as mayor of this wonderful community where I was born and raised. I am grateful to the residents of North Adams who entrusted me with the responsibility to work on their behalf for two terms, and I look forward to continuing this work in the weeks and months ahead in order to ensure an orderly transition to the next city administration.
No one who serves in a leadership position does so alone. In North Adams we are so fortunate to have a team of capable, experienced, professional staff in the city and in the North Adams Public Schools. Our city and school employees are dedicated to the mission of delivering responsive and equitable public services to residents, business, and visitors. It has been an honor for me to work alongside them.
On a personal level I also have been supported and sustained in my service as mayor by my wife and daughter as well as by my parents whose example as retired North Adams educators inspired me to give back to the city. My family shared the joys of service with me, and held me up when the responsibilities of the job weighed heavily on my shoulders.
I hope that announcing my intention to focus my full attention on the important work of moving our city forward will create space for other members of our community to consider seriously the opportunity to form campaigns and run for the office of mayor. I will work with whomever the voters of North Adams entrust with the responsibility to serve as our next mayor and am committed to helping provide for a smooth transition.
The city's municipal election will be held November 2, 2021. If more than two candidates for mayor are certified, the city will hold a preliminary election in September to narrow the field to two candidates for the general election.