By Marjorie Nesin
---- — When Ward 5 councilor Greg Verga announced he would run for council-at-large this year, two residents in the ward stepped up to pull papers, seizing the opportunity to run for the seat Verga now holds.
The early candidates for the city’s westernmost ward, Michael Mulcahey and Scotadam Chernov, both characterize themselves as voters unaffiliated with political parties and independent decision makers, and the two agree that outlying fire stations should open more frequently, the direction the candidates would like to see the city take quickly diverges into two separate paths.
The overall campaign map has presented opportunities for new candidates but incumbents too, with Bruce Tobey, one of four councilors-at-large, saying several times that he would forego another run after sitting on the council for the past 7 years, as well as over prior terms. Ward 5 Councilor Verga jumped into fray for an at-large seat, opening the door to new candidates for the ward slot. And with a deadline of mid-August for all city candidates, the field could grow.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk was the first to announce a mayoral campaign, and so far remains without a challenger. Councilors-at-large Bob Whynott and Joe Ciolino have taken out papers to seek re-election to their at-large seats, while Ward 1 Councilor Paul McGeary has taken out papers to run again, as has School Committee member Melissa Teixeira.
While Mulcahey, 49, would reinvigorate the Fuller school building to house three of Gloucester’s elementary schools, Chernov, 46, would convert the Fuller School building into a police and fire headquarters, building a new school facility for West Parish.
Chernov, who lives on Woodward Avenue with his wife and cat Borris, moved to Gloucester 15 years ago to advance in his work as a chiropractor by buying a practice from a retiring practitioner. Chernov was a Gloucester Rotarian for many years, he said, and would like to get back into the Rotary Club. But politics have also captured Chernov’s interest for years and along with refocusing on rotary, he decided recently to throw himself into the political ring.
“I’ve been interested in politics for years, and I always said you have to vote if you want a right to complain,” Chernov said Friday. “Now that Greg Verga is running at large, I thought we needed a voice for West Gloucester. I could help and be part of the solution.”
Chernov, who believes the city should refrain from renting any properties — including the administrative offices on Pond Road — and supports the city “putting away money for a rainy day,” said that with Fuller as an emergency personnel headquarters and a new school building going up for West Parish, as he would have it, the city would create a centralized fire station, possibly aiding in faster response times.
“If we centralize the one at Fuller, that could get anywhere, but I do think the one at Magnolia needs to be manned where it’s so far out,” Chernov said.
Chernov noted that a repaired Fuller school building or a new building would also act as a city emergency center.
Chernov has been working on organizing his campaign before collecting signatures, and Mulcahey reported that he has already begun gathering signatures for the race that will begin with a primary in mid-October if another person joins the race, bumping it up to three candidates hoping to make the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.
Mulcahey, a Desert Storm Navy veteran, who works as an engineering technician for Beverly-based Symmetricom, lives on Kent Road with his wife and children. But, residents might recognize his family connection more as the son of Ann Mulcahey, who succeeded John “Gus” Foote as Ward 2 councilor after he decided not to seek an 18th term, then bowed to Melissa Cox in her own run for re-election in 2011.
Michael Mulcahey ran for the Ward 3 seat six years ago, but lost in a tight race. The 1983 Gloucester High graduate has sat on the traffic commission for nine years.
Mulcahey, concerned that Gloucester has based its economics too much on tourism, would like to see the city expand its industrial parks and commercial tax base. Part of his economic plan would be restoring Fuller back to use as a school, roping in the West Parish, Beaman and Veterans’ elementary schools in a consolidated effort.
“Having the city not keep that building up is a travesty ... that school was built to last,” Mulcahey said. “They cannot maintain these buildings properly and now they’re looking to build a brand new West Parish.”
Mulcahey, like Chernov, urged that keeping outlying fire stations open more hours is also crucial for residents’ safety.
“Central can’t be responsible for going out there every time. It’s a lot of pressure on the firefighters ... (but) those two outliers not open is a danger to quite a few people, especially our elder people,” Mulcahey wrote.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.