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October 23, 2013

Kirk, Bell tout their priorities

Mayoral candidates clash in TV studio debate

Squaring off for the fourth time — and in their final, full head-to-head debate, mayoral candidates Mac Bell and Carolyn Kirk focused on points they had emphasized in previous clashes, while telling Cape Ann TV viewers how they would focus on everything from weather emergency preparedness to the city’s infrastructure needs.

Speaking to the cameras in a Cape Ann Studio debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Cape Ann, challenger Bell sparked a conversation over what he considered the “blighted liability” that is Stacy Boulevard, while incumbent Kirk spoke about the importance of a calm temperament when dealing with emergencies as mayor.

Given the opportunity to answer his own question about how the boulevard could be so “disrespectfully” without maintenance, Bell suggested that, if elected mayor Nov. 5, he’d seek to have the city incorporate volunteer groups in its maintenance and give the walkway’s upkeep a higher priority.

“It’s a question of respectful maintenance,” Bell said. “There’s a handful of different approaches that we could take to basic maintenance that, in the last six years, have not been party to maintaining or taking care of job one on the boulevard.”

Kirk responded by mentioning a pending announcement, set for Nov. 7, about the boulevard’s status, then turned to infrastructure work her administration has advanced — like the Combined Sewer Overflow project.

“I’d much rather have people be able to drink their water and then suffer through a couple years of inaccessible areas on the Boulevard,” Kirk said. “It’s about choices.”

With her own question, Kirk swung the debate over how each might react to emergency situations.

“Temperament is very important when it comes to dealing with a crisis,” Kirk said. “The leadership sets a tone; the leadership has to be calm and level-headed and work with multiple people who are competing for their own areas of expertise.”

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