North Adams mayoral candidate Peter Oleskiewicz vows responsiveness

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NORTH ADAMS — Peter Oleskiewicz has jumped into the race for mayor.

With just days remaining before the deadline, Oleskiewicz was the final candidate to take out nomination papers to run for office, but returned them on time this week.

Now, the city native, 49, will make the case for himself as the right choice to lead North Adams.

Oleskiewicz, a truck driver for A. Duie Pyle Inc., lived in the region when General Electric and Sprague Electric Co. left the Berkshires, and watched the population decline. Now, he sees opportunities.

"Change is happening, and it's happening for the good, but it's hard to get that across," Oleskiewicz said.

Oleskiewicz said he would make it a priority, if elected, to be accessible and responsive, saying better communication is needed.

"They just feel like they're losing their voice and losing their sense of community," he said of residents.

The candidate also wants the city to take a more proactive approach to crime — something he argues is affected by the Police Department's struggle to retain officers. He calls for a review of police salaries in North Adams, which are among the lowest in the state.

"We're basically a training ground," Oleskiewicz said of turnover in the department.

Oleskiewicz also wants to review the compensation packages of public works employees, who he said sometimes have to work second jobs.

"You've got to give people a reason to stay here," Oleskiewicz said.

If elected, Oleskiewicz said he would work with every city department to assess needs and find efficiencies where possible. Oleskiewicz said he wants to spend time with employees, whether it be a ride-along with police or responding to a broken water main with the Department of Public Works.

"I would love to just take time and work with every department in the city," Oleskiewicz said.

Oleskiewicz also hopes to see additional services return to the North Adams campus of Berkshire Medical Center, which replaced North Adams Regional Hospital following its closing in 2014. He praised the work of the North County Cares Coalition, a group of volunteers that has advocated for a full-service hospital in North Adams.

Specifically, Oleskiewicz wants to see a trauma center added to the North Adams campus.

"It's a long way to Bennington or Pittsfield if you're on your last few minutes in North Adams," Oleskiewicz said.

When it comes to education, Oleskiewicz believes that the need to share services is becoming inevitable. He argued that Clarksburg and Florida should consider integrating their elementary students into the North Adams school system.

"It's time to start looking at things in a reasonable way," Oleskiewicz said.

Oleskiewicz is one of five candidates running for mayor. He joins Thomas Bernard, Rachel Branch, Robert Martelle and Robert Moulton Jr. in the field.

The candidates will appear on the ballot for a Sept. 19 preliminary, which will narrow the field to two candidates. The general election is Nov. 7.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter


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