From the I-4, C-2 lot to Gloucester social services and the effects of the state’s Designated Port Area on city and its residents, Mayor Carolyn Kirk and challenger and local developer Mac Bell clashed Tuesday morning on a wide range of issues in their first debate in what has already become a lively mayoral race.
Hosted by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce at The Elks at Bass Rocks, the debate opened with a question on what each candidate would do if the city came into $5 million.
Bell said he would first allocate $3.3 million to the Gloucester Education Foundation, saying that his most important “single agenda item” is education.
Kirk said she would allocate $1 million into the city’s “rainy day fund,” while also extending $2 million to the School Committee for one-time investments on items such as student laptops and other technology, and another $2 million toward projects not regularly getting their requested funding, such as Sawyer Free Library.
The two were also asked how they would handle Gloucester’s viability of the DPA and the potential for the Fuller School property.
“The DPA is the law of the land right now. We need to work within those confines,” Kirk said.
She said the challenge is to create jobs and value today while creating opportunities for the future.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘Let’s just remove the DPA,’” she said, later adding that the city is currently carrying out a DPA boundary review.
Bell, however, said he would summarize the Kirk administration’s DPA handling as “good effort, poor execution,” adding that Gloucester was “duped” into accepting the DPA years ago.
He said he would bring Gloucester into the 21st century, and seek to trim the DPA boundaries to running from the Coast Guard to the Jodrey State Fish Pier, though any properties that wish to remain on the DPA could do so.