Shade’s election to North Adams City Council a milestone in Berkshire County


With over 1,200 votes, Ashley Shade, 34, won a seat on the nine-member North Adams City Council and a place in Berkshire County history.

“As far as I know, I am the first transgender person to be elected in Berkshire County,” she told WAMC. “So that alone is remarkable. And I am extremely grateful to the Town of North Adams and the people who voted for me and believed in me, and I look forward to serving the people of North Adams.

A self-confessed libertarian, Shade – who works in customer service – wants to focus on making life easier for small businesses in the community of about 13,000 North Berkshire residents.

“We have prescriptions that are really making it tough for small businesses,” Shade said. “And I think, for example, that a sign approval process goes through four different departments to get approval, it just makes it harder for small businesses that aren’t already successful in our city that much harder. “A business has to apply for a new license even if it is in the same zoning district. It doesn’t make too much sense. If they move, they have to reapply for the permit and pay all the fees. Why?” We’ve already approved their business, they should be able to move as long as they’re on the same zoning So things like that I think we can make it easier.

A North Adams resident since the age of 4, Shade has pledged to council to tackle the city’s infrastructure projects from 2022.

“I want to see us in this ready-to-dig state, so when the grants are ready for us, we can apply for them,” she said. “We need to get all of our sewer infrastructure, we need public safety, we need this stuff and this process ready in spades. So we need to get the plans started, we need to get the grants and the studies. , that way, when we’re ready to ask for that money when it’s available, we can apply, and boom, we can make it happen.

After a heated campaign season that saw Jennifer Macksey narrowly beat Lynette Bond to become North Adams’ first female mayor, the new city councilor is calling for unity.

“Now that we know the results, it’s time to bring everyone together,” Shade said. “Because it’s not just the council members who have a voice, it’s not just the mayor who has a voice. We need the whole city to come together to help with the issues we have. we all have to work together to solve the problems that we have here in the city. The infrastructure, the school problem with Greylock, all that. We need all the voices. So we really need everyone. get together, work with us I look forward to listening to everyone and hearing their ideas, because I don’t have all the answers, but I am ready to listen and find them.

Shade publicly revealed herself as transgender in 2014. She reflected on the weight of responsibility that comes with being a first.

“It’s a bit nerve-racking, but exciting,” she told WAMC. Luckily, I kind of broke new ground already. I’m the first chairman of the Massachusetts Transgender State Party, being the chairman of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party. So this was just another groundbreaking event. my community, I represent my community and I work for my community. The people that I work with in the different organizations and the different things that I do will tell you that I work hard and that I get things done. And that’s my goal. My goal is to represent my community, to make ourselves visible. We are not always visible, so having the honor of being able to represent people like me and help amplify their voices is the best thing I can do with my life, and I am happy to have this opportunity and I am ready to serve.

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