GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 11, 2013

At-large race draws to six entries

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — As city elections draw nearer, more candidates are plunging into the races, including a total of six candidates who will now vie for the four councilor-at-large seats and three who are now trying their hand at Ward 5.

The at-large election will include three incumbents, with Bruce Tobey retiring from the position. And, while two new candidates, Paul L. Lundberg and Robert Whitmarsh, have added themselves to the list of potentials, current Ward 5 councilor Greg Verga has thrown his name in the at-large ring too.

Whitmarsh heads a family-owned locksmith business, Whitmarsh Lock & Safe that he has run since 1975. He was also a driving force as a member of the Steering Committee that worked to develop and get state approval for the new Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District.

“I’ve been listening for a long time,” Whitmarsh said. “I will not be a candidate that supports one or two issues but will be interested in the whole picture that shapes Gloucester.”

Whitmarsh said Monday that, although he has yet to pinpoint the city’s biggest issues and prioritize a stance, he wants to help Gloucester continue to stride toward improvements.

“The city is doing fairly well but I don’t want to just settle when we can really have more for the city,” Whitmarsh said.

Lundberg, meanwhile, has lived in Gloucester most of his life, but traveled frequently for work. The 1969 Gloucester High School attended college in Chicago and moved into the railway business, buying, fixing up and reselling railways with an informal group of colleagues.

Lundberg was the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail for one year in 2006, and sat on the city’s Planning Board between 2001 and 2007, acting as chairman for two of those years. Then, his group purchased a rail company called Rail America and he began traveling out of state weekly.

“We have since sold that company and I am no longer on the road, and I thought this would be a great way to get back involved in the city,” Lundberg said Monday.

As a “product of Gloucester’s schools,” Lundberg said he takes a special interest in schools and prefers to stick with the model of neighborhood elementary schools.

“I really enjoyed sorting through the issues and trying to find a right solution for the city and really all the citizens,” Lundberg said. “That’s what the city council is supposed to do and I think I could be really helpful there.”

Lundberg said he supports Beauport LLC.’s proposal to build a 101-room hotel on the Birdseye sight and said as a city councilor he would more closely examine catch limits for fishermen.

“There seems to be questions about whether they got the science exactly right and whether there’s been too big an impact on the city as far as the catch limits,” Lundberg said.

Verga, currently the Ward 5 city councilor, decided early on to seek a councilor-at-large seat, hoping to create a larger impact on key issues.

“I guess in a nutshell it just comes down to there are some more universal issues that I’d like to focus on. I believe the ward counselors’ primary job is to focus on the ward and ward issues.” Verga said Monday. “There’s big things that have happened, there’s the hotel, there’s some big question marks like fuller school, those are some of the things I’d like to focus my energy on.”

They are expected to be joined by incumbents Sefatia Romeo Theken, Joseph Ciolino and Robert Whynott.

Candidates face a deadline of early August to take out papers, collect signatures and seek certification from the city clerk.

Local chiropractor Scotadam Chernov finished gathering signatures last week and the city clerk added him to the ballot. He and Michael Mulcahey, a Desert Storm Navy veteran who works as an engineering technician for Beverly-based Symmetricom, took out papers in April when Verga announced his decision to retire.

They now face a new competitor, William H. Fonveille, who took out papers in early May.

Fonveille, a licensed realtor who runs a small consulting business, moved to Gloucester about 21 years ago. Fonveille was a city councilor in a suburb of Chicago for four years. He has enjoyed involvement on committees both in Gloucester and his home state of Illinois.

“I think I have the point of experience all over the city and a real track record that none of the other candidates have,” Fonveille said Monday.

Then Governor Michael Dukakis appointed him to a 15-member committee whose mission was to preserve blue collar jobs in the state. And, Fonveille was a member of the coordinating committee that created future plans for Gloucester in 2001. Moving forward, he would like to see that plan updated.

“Economic development is clearly a factor in Gloucester,” Fonveille said. “I would really like to see the Lexington Avenue area be more developed with nice detail. It would be good if we could find some kind of a way to attract tourists to the area too. I think we need to stimulate tourism.”

Fonveille, too, supports Beauport LLC’s hotel project.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk was the first to announce a mayoral campaign, and still remains without a challenger.

The incumbent councilors in wards 1 through 4 are also running without competition as of yet.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.