To the editor:
With roughly 30 days until the voters of Gloucester head to the polls to elect their mayor, the elements of a spirited campaign are emerging.
During the coming month, we can expect a full discussion of the issues and a review of how far we’ve come as a city since Carolyn Kirk first became mayor in January of 2008.
George W. Bush was entering his final year of his presidency. We didn’t know it then, but the United States was on the brink of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. But even in January of 2008, before the global meltdown, the new mayor faced daunting challenges, including a $2.4 million shortfall in the city’s $80 million budget.
She swung into action and took tough measures to get Gloucester shipshape again. She adopted an austerity program, personally approving every city purchase of more than $100. She froze all new hiring and did not replace departing employees. After the city couldn’t account for a million dollars in receipts, the new mayor called in an outside accounting firm to find the money.
We’ve come a long way since the dismal days of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession. Thanks to the even-handed and steady leadership of Carolyn Kirk, Gloucester has made great strides.
Our bond rating has improved. We’ve made the difficult budget choices and now live within our means.
After three years of focused effort during the worst recession in generations, the mayor’s administration closed out all deficits on our city’s financial books. Today, the city is on firm financial ground. Next fiscal year, the city of Gloucester’s operational revenues and expenses will top $100 million.
In the past two years, the Kirk administration’s total investment in updating our drinking water system has been $15 million.
After completing $9 million in repairs and rehabilitation of our Babson Water Treatment Plant after its catastrophic failure, Gloucester now has a safer, more reliable drinking water system. The $20 million rehabilitation of our Waste Water Treatment Plant is proceeding on time and on budget.
Our city streets are in the best condition in years. With $1.2 million from the Seaport Advisory Council, the perennial eyesore known as I-4, C-2 has been acquired and cleaned up and the beautiful HarborWalk created.
The mayor would no doubt be the first one to agree that there is still much work to be done, and that many issues are contentious and will not be easily resolved.
Carolyn Kirk is the mayor of all of the people of Gloucester, and she deserves your vote on Nov. 5.