The early Campaign 2013 announcements last week by City Councilor Greg Verga and then by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who confirmed Friday that she will be seeking a fourth term, ensure one thing: This will be a long election season.
But the campaign launches by Kirk and by Verga, who will seek a councilor-at-large seat while opening up the Ward 5 post he has held for two terms, also serve a genuine purpose. They should open doors to potential challengers and/or new candidates on multiple fronts, and that can only be a good thing for city voters.
In the councilor-at-large race, Verga said that was largely his intention with an early announcement; by letting all residents know in the first full week of January about his intention to seek one of the four citywide at-large seats, he was giving potential candidates for his current Ward 5 seat time to consider a run for the council, and time to pull together a campaign. At the same time, he has also laid groundwork for taking a larger role on citywide issues in addition to his ward duties — and he has already emerged as a leading advocate of moving the city’s municipal offices to the former Fuller School site, an issue that may be defining within his race and the mayoral run as well.
In Kirk’s case, the early announcement follows a pattern she set two years ago, when she announced at the start of the year that she would seek a third term – ultimately winning with a victory over Ken Sarofeen. That year, she was coming off some late 2010 health issues, with a few rumblings that she might not seek re-election. That’s not the case this time, but Kirk’s announcement clearly lets any challengers know that, if they are going to run, it will be through challenging her.
There are already many issues looming in this year’s city races, including the future use of Fuller, which will also be on the ballot through a non-binding referendum question. There’s the proposed new West Gloucester school, which should frankly should be put on the November ballot as well. And let’s not forget the next steps in the Beauport Gloucester Fort hotel project, and the handling and potential sale of the city’s I-4, C-2 property.
With all of those balls in play, it’s best that current and/or potential candidates put their cards on the table early for voters to see. Verga and Kirk have done just that.