A contested and sometimes contentious race for mayor, two contests for City Council ward seats, a packed race for councilor-at-large and a nine-candidate run for six School Committee seats will all be decided Tuesday when Gloucester’s voters take to the polls.
And voters will also choose from among three options when they weigh in on the future of the former Fuller School in a nonbinding referendum — all as part of the city’s biannual municipal elections.
Voters will be able to cast ballots between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow in 10 precincts at nine locations, with both Ward 2 precincts in the youth center of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church on Prospect Street.
The election is topped by the race for mayor, with incumbent Carolyn Kirk seeking a fourth term against a challenge from Mac Bell.
Kirk, a business consultant and former School Committee member, first won election by defeating then-City Council president James Destino in 2007, then was re-elected in 2009 and 2011.
Bell, who was the youngest city councilor in the city’s history when he was elected in 1973, just two years out of Gloucester High School, has since become well known as a local businessman and real estate developer.
Over the past month, the two have clashed in a series of head-to-head debates, including one hosted by the Times, exchanging views and occasional barbs in meeting that have also played out over Cape Ann TV. They have also reached out to voters in all-candidate forums that drew the crowded fields of candidates making City Council and School Committee runs as well.
Members of the Port Community Alliance and some other residents have also pushed Joe Palmisano as a write-in mayoral candidate, though Palmisano himself has said he could not actively campaign due to a conflict with his federal job with the Department of Agriculture.
School Committee race
Beyond the mayor’s race, voters will be asked to choose six members of the School Committee — and the committee is assured of having at least two new members.
That’s because neither Vice Chairwoman Val Gilman nor Roger Garberg have sought re-election, leaving just four incumbents. The seventh and final seat in the board automatically goes to the elected mayor.
In order of ballot appearance, the candidates are Kathleen Clancy, John “J.D.” MacEachern, Jr., Michelle Sweet, Melissa Teixeira, Hanah Scialdone Kimberley, Jonathan Pope, Tony Gross, John “Jack” O’Maley and Joe Favazza.
Clancy, Teixeira, Pope and Gross are incumbents, with Pope as the current chairman.
The makeup of Gloucester’s next City Council will essentially be decided in three races, with two contested ward seats and an eight-candidate scramble for the four councilor-at-large slots.
The eight candidates for councilor-at-large — where voters can choose up to four — represents the maximum the city could have had without requiring a September primary. And the council, like the School Committee, is already assured of some change. In this case, former four-term mayor and incumbent at-large councilor Bruce Tobey announced nearly a year ago that he would not seek another term, and held despite taking a lead role on several contentious issues that the council addressed in 2013.
In the at-large race, the candidates — again, in order as listed on Tuesday’s ballot — are Gregory Verga, Sefatia Romeo Theken, Steven Curcuru, Paul Lundberg, Joseph Ciolino, Dennis Latham, Robert Whitmarsh, Jr., and Robert Whynott.
Theken, Ciolino and Whynott are the art-large incumbents. While Verga is an incumbent councilor, he currently holds down the Ward 5 seat and his making his first at-large challenge, along with Curcuru, Lundberg, Latham and Whitmarsh.
With Verga running at large, first-time candidates Scotadam Chernov and William Fonvielle are running for his Ward 5 seat, while the other contested ward race is in Ward 2, where incumbent Melissa Cox is seeking her second term against challenger and former Ward 2 Councilor Ann Frontiero Mulcahey.
Residents of the city’s other wards will also see their incumbent councilors’ names on the ballot for votes. But Ward 1 Councilor Paul McGeary, Ward 3 Councilor Steve LeBlanc, and Ward 4 Councilor Jackie Hardy — the current council president — are all unopposed in seeking re-election.
The final decision confronting city voters tomorrow — taking up the right side of the three-column ballot — is the nonbinding referendum that asks residents which of three listed options would be their “preferred use for the Fuller building?”
Option A calls for relocating “some or all city officers” to the Fuller site, Option B calls for developing the Fuller building as a “commercial site,” and Option C calls for developing the site “for a mix of uses, including governmental, nonprofit and for-profit uses or some subset of those uses.”
Voters are asked to vote for only one of the three options — and, as the Times has often reported the council did not include either an option to reopen Fuller as a school or a line for voters to write-in other choices.
The ballot question also notes that any of the listed options offer “potential additional use of the former Charlie Thomas Field as a municipal public safety complex. And it reiterates that the referendum is “an advisory, nonbinding question to determine voter sentiment.”
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.