GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 10, 2013

The Mayor's Desk: Fun and games in the role of mayor

The Mayor's Desk
Carolyn A. Kirk

---- — After seeing pictures in the Gloucester Daily Times of people, including myself, playing bocce (the Times, Page 1, Saturday, July 27), a friend of mine texted me and said, “I love that photo. It looks like you are having fun!”

It made me think of all the fun things the mayor gets to do despite long nights, difficult decisions, and what might seem like endless conflict.

For instance, this week, I make a cameo appearance in the Annisquam Village Players production of “Chicago.” It is a longstanding tradition for the mayor to don whatever costume Terry Sands of Annisquam deems fitting, and enter stage right to perform whatever role Terry Sands says to play.

This year, for seven nights in a row, I will don a king-sized sheet tied in the shape of a toga, wear a crown of leaves, and perform the role of the Scales of Justice. Without fail, every year my husband asks me, “why do you do this?” My answer is always the same: “For the applause.”

At the recent Bananarama Fashion Show fund-raiser for City Hall, which was a terrific show, lunch with the mayor was auctioned off. A couple of people “bought” me for $1,600. They recently piled into my office bearing a spread of salads and other dishes from Passports with real utensils and plates (usually I eat at my desk with a plastic fork, so this was a treat!).

We sat around the conference table and enjoyed a leisurely meal, and then Maggie Rosa of the City Hall Restoration Commission guided us all on a tour of the City Hall tower. We clamored all the way to the top of the tower, above the bell, and some even ventured above the clock level. We took some great photos, and shared many laughs.

This week, I had the pleasure of becoming familiar with a fire and rescue boat that was accepted as a donation from the city of New Bedford and is now owned by CERT, our local volunteer Citizen Emergency Response Team.

The CERT organization has used the boat as a resource for water-based events such as the Blackburn Challenge which saw 200 people rowing around Cape Ann. They will also deploy during the Schooner Festival and complement the work of the Coast Guard, Police Department, and the harbormaster’s office.

Well, no boat familiarization meeting is complete without actually taking a ride on the boat. So on Thursday, I boarded the CERT boat. Going by the harbormaster’s dock, I noticed some people and asked the captain to steer closer. There we found the city auditor along with officials from the Mass. Department of Revenue (DOR). The city auditor was showing them the harbor aspects of the city.

By pure coincidence, my next meeting that afternoon was with the same DOR officials. So we pulled up to the dock, and I invited the DOR officials along with the city auditor on board, and we proceeded to give them a tour of Gloucester Harbor.

Having our meeting on the boat was way more fun than meeting in my office. They enjoyed it immensely, and came away with a new appreciation for the city.

After moments of fun, I am re-energized and again ready to tackle the tough challenges of the day.

It’s easy to take ourselves too seriously, especially when you have a serious job with much responsibility. So for now, I’m off to don my toga and crown of leaves.

Carolyn A. Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.