To the editor:
A few weeks ago, when Mayor Carolyn Kirk seemed to be cruising towards an easy re-election victory, a challenger appeared in the form of businessman and former City Council member Mac Bell.
His stated objective was to energize the debate and ultimately win the election to become Gloucester’s next mayor.
With a slew of public debates behind us and the election imminent, the voters of Gloucester have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the challenger and to hear Mayor Kirk both defend her record and present her vision for the future.
I do not personally know Mr. Bell. Based on what I’ve seen during the debates, he is without question an articulate candidate who is sincerely devoted to this city. Yet over the long haul of the campaign, his own arguments in favor of his election have come up short.
On nearly every issue, Mayor Kirk has simply trounced Mr. Bell, hands down. It’s not because of starkly differing viewpoints; it’s simply because Mayor Kirk has presented her positions clearly and has backed them up with facts. Mr. Bell has presented himself as being well informed on only a few very narrow issues that all seem to relate to commercial real estate development.
All too often during the debates Mr. Bell, when asked for a statement about a specific policy question, has retreated into vague platitudes. He has repeatedly asserted that city government needs to “respect the taxpayer,” and that we all need to “work together.”
Difficult problems that the mayor has not been able to single-handedly fix, such as Mr. Bell’s favorite target, I-4, C-2, he dismisses as being “disasters” created solely by the mayor’s “arrogance.” Meanwhile, the mayor provides the voters with detailed explanations of why she made her choices and the ramifications of those choices in the years ahead.
This is not to say that Mayor Kirk is a one-dimensional policy wonk. Far from it. Her leadership has been dynamic and personal, and she clearly enjoys her position as Gloucester’s chief executive. She combines a sharp grasp of the issues with a hands-on approach that has resulted in measurable advances for Gloucester since she took office.
Does the city of Gloucester face significant challenges during the next two years? Yes.
While I applaud Mr. Bell for stepping up and offering a challenge to the incumbent, the conclusion is inescapable that his considerable talents lie elsewhere.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk has earned my support, and I hope that the readers of the Times will go to the polls and cast their votes in favor of her continued leadership.