I want to thank Sen. John Kerry for his service particularly to Gloucester and to congratulate him on his appointment as Secretary of State.
In doing so, I want to share some personal experiences that I have had the great fortune to have had with the senator.
I first met Sen. Kerry upon taking office as mayor in 2008. He came to officially welcome me into office, and offer his assistance in any way possible. During that meeting in City Hall, one month into my first term, I naively asked Sen. Kerry how I might go about testifying on the federal budget in Washington, D.C.
I thought for sure there was a way for members of the public to comment on the annual federal budget. After all, when we have a budget hearing in Gloucester, sometimes hundreds of people show up and tell you exactly what they think. As a newly elected mayor, I was eager to carry a message to Washington, D.C. about their spending priorities.
Turns out, there is no method for the public to testify about the federal budget as its winds its way through Congress. Sensing my disappointment, Senator Kerry explained that testimony can be solicited upon invitation, and that he would find a way to allow me to testify in Washington, D.C.
Sure enough, on April 16, 2008, on behalf of the city of Gloucester I testified in front of a Senate committee and that testimony is forever captured in the Congressional Record for the 110th Congress (2007-2008) in the Library of Congress.
In 2009, I headed back to Washington, D.C., to participate in the “United We Fish” rally, and had a private meeting with Sen. Kerry in his office. My impression was that he was not fully engaged in the current fishing issues, and I could see that his understanding needed to be contemporized, and had all of five minutes to explain the complex challenges facing the industry.
So I drew an imaginary line on the conference table where we were sitting. I took business cards, and pretended they were each a horse on a horsetrack. I pushed the cards across the table towards the finish line so they all crossed at the same time – a five-way photo finish for first place which is a near impossibility. I said that that’s what the management scheme expects the fish to do – for all species to be rebuilt at the same time on a date certain in the future.
Between myself, and many fishing industry advocates who pressed Sen. Kerry, we soon found a champion of the industry in him which was more important than ever due to the loss of Sen. Kennedy in 2009.
Finally, as we were planning a tribute to Joe Garland, who passed away in 2011, we were pleased to know that Sen. Kerry would submit remarks. As the date came closer, and we didn’t have a copy, I contacted a Kerry staffer, and asked about the status of it. She said, “the senator is writing it himself, and we will get a copy to you in time. Don’t worry.” I had the privilege of reading Sen. Kerry’s moving tribute to Joe Garland at the celebration of his life.
From where I sit, this is how Sen. Kerry was – diplomatic, open to new information, and compassionate. We thank him for serving the Commonwealth and our city well.
On behalf of the citizens of Gloucester, we wish him our very best as he serves our country and indeed the world.
Carolyn A. Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.