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Opinion

November 2, 2013

Endorsements: Councilors at large

The next City Council will face a number of key decisions as Gloucester addresses development issues along its waterfront, the future of the Fuller School site, a likely bond of more than $15 million for the city’s share of a new elementary school, and more issues.

That especially impacts the councilor-at-large race, which determines the makeup of nearly half the city’s nine-member legislative body. That has drawn a full house of strong challengers, with eight candidates seeking the four seats. That holds out potential for the kind of change the city and the council need.

Noting that voters can choose up to four candidates in this race, our endorsements for councilor-at-large are as follows:

Greg Verga, who previously chaired the Gloucester School Committee and has held the Ward 5 City Council seat for the last two years, may seem like an incumbent, but he’s a challenger in this race and deserves a vote. Chairing the council’s Planning and Development subcommittee, he’s taken a key role on several citywide issues already, and in actively pushing for the Fuller referendum, he responds to constituents as well.

Paul Lundberg, who previously served on and chaired the city’s Planning Board, brings both that and private business experience as a transportation general manager with the MBTA’s commuter rail service. And he recognizes the need to ease the city’s permitting process while also exploring more private-public partnerships like the Newell Renewal project. He boasts the economic creativity Gloucester needs.

Sefatia Romeo Theken, seeking her seventh term, is an at-large councilor who responds to constituents – especially senior citizens — as if she were their ward councilor. And she has prioritized taking further steps to improve the city’s public safety coverage and Gloucester schools. Those are priorities the council needs, and she should remain an important part of it.

Bob Whitmarsh, who was among the first announced challengers, has already shown he can get things done by taking the lead and winning state approval for the new Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District. He recognizes the importance of the arts in the creative economy — one of Gloucester’s growing strengths. He deserves a chance to take a larger citywide role through election to the council.

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