GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 19, 2013

Kirk, Bell trade views, barbs in Times debate

Kirk, Bell trade views, barbs in Times debate

Mayor Carolyn Kirk emphasized the choices she has made as mayor over the past six years and the support she has provided the city during times of near financial disaster and even unusual emergencies, like water boil periods, whirling storms and fire-related deaths.

“You choose a mayor, if you choose me, who is calm and level-headed and a mayor who has dealt with so many emergencies in this city,” Kirk said.

But challenger Mac Bell questioned many of the mayor’s choices and told voters he was ready to pick up the workload.

“I’m serious about being the future mayor of Gloucester, and I’m committed to significant and absolute hard work that the job requires,” Bell said.

Those were just a couple of focal points for Thursday night’s mayoral debate, hosted by the Gloucester Daily Times at the Gloucester Stage Company. And the clash of mayoral candidates spotlighted clear differences between the candidates, who capped two nights of Times debates with a lively exchange before a crowd of 150 that nearly filled the intimate East Gloucester theater and elicited responses ranging from hearty laughter to occasional whispered comments of disgust.

At the start of the debate, Kirk set a stack of manila folders and papers down on the table beside her and opened a spiral notebook, pen ready. Bell arranged index card-sized papers on the table in front of him and set his phone case on its side to display a “Vote” emblem next to his canteen with a “Bell” sticker.

Bell said he had felt a low gut feeling at times under the mayor’s administration. Throughout the debate, Bell returned a few times to criticisms of the city administration’s handling of the empty I-4,C-2 lot on Rogers Street and a state grant for infrastructure in the Fort area. He called both a “disrespect” to taxpayers.

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