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January 12, 2013

Kirk will pursue 4th term

Carolyn Kirk said Friday she would run for a fourth, two-year term as mayor in 2013.

A formal re-election announcement and event will be held at the Gloucester House on Saturday, Feb. 16, the 51-year-old mother of two, wife of business editor Bill Kirk of The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover and former School Committee member said in an interview at the Times.

Raised in upstate New York, Kirk, a former business consultant, has proved to be a decisive and remarkably successful municipal politician, winning all 10 precincts of the five wards in her first campaign for mayor in 2007, against City Council President Jim Destino, and then capturing large majorities in her second and third campaigns.

Politically formidable, she has shown a knack for assembling a dedicated and generous political organization, and raised money in 2012 to prepare for the fourth campaign this year. Lucky — or fortunate — she has also been.

Her opponent in 2009, Sharon George, town clerk in Wilmington, was basically trapped five days a week in a distant town and decided against mounting a full campaign, effectively conceding the election to Kirk; in 2011, her opponent, Ken Sarofeen, was a part-time cook at the Elks Lodge running for the first time without significant campaign finance resources and captured 21 percent of the vote.

Kirk came to prominence via election to the School Committee where she demonstrated a knack for marketing with signature “Kirk for Kids” signs of a stick figure at a desk. She followed that with round signs (“vision, leadership, progress for Gloucester”) in the upset of Destino.

From the first campaign, Kirk staked her political future on the commitment to bring the city out of a fiscal free-fall and issued a detailed, graphic state of the city address in April 2008 that showed what needed to be done to attain stability. After years of deficits and bad grades from the rating agencies and the state, Kirk has produced a string of surpluses, or free cash, and has stabilized the bond rating even as the Great Recession battered the nation.

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