To the editor:
In an ideal world during an election season we would be talking a lot more about plans and policies, achievements and know-how. Sadly, this race is coming down to Sefatia vs. Not Sefatia.
Most of us know or are familiar with both candidates and have formed impressions of their different personalities. We have a challenger who is presenting himself as a conventional alternative to our current mayor who is, by anyone’s standards, an unconventional powerhouse. It is time to take a step back and evaluate what each of them knows, where they want to take us in the future, and, above all, what each of their chances might be of bringing us to safe harbor and brighter days going forward.
Candidate Verga has said that Mayor Theken lacks “broad vision.” This is like someone standing 6 inches away from a Monet painting and not recognizing there are haystacks in it. The extent of Sefatia’s accomplishments cannot be overstated.
Despite her compelling demeanor, Sefatia can be both understated and underestimated. Some claim she isn’t a good manager and isn’t good with finances. The truth is, Gloucester has maintained a AA bond rating since she became mayor in 2015. Gloucester never had to lay off or furlough anyone during COVID-19.
In addition to all the city’s departments with its 1,200 employees, Gloucester is blessed to have some 41 official volunteer boards, commissions, and committees. These range from the Board of Health and the Planning Board to the Traffic Commission and the Cemetery Advisory Committee.
It is hard to grasp how many moving parts are involved in the care and keeping of this beautiful city we call home. Sefatia does her job so well she gets more done before sunup than most people get done in a week.
Gov. Baker, in his glowing endorsement, gave Sefatia resounding praise for her leadership during COVID-19. He talked about Gloucester’s consistently low COVID-19 numbers, how our schools rose to the challenges, and how the homeless stayed fed, sheltered, and healthy throughout.
Sefatia draws community members together to address problems and needs as they arise. She can make rapid connections in a crisis. Just last week, there was an oil spill in the harbor. All of our first responders were on it in a heartbeat, and so was our mayor asking, “How can I help?” The harbormaster said they needed a drone. In 15 minutes, Sefatia had a volunteer on the scene with a drone, and the source of the leak was found shortly after.
Each of us might ask ourselves how much we will lose if we lose her leadership. For me, I take a special interest in the environment. I see Greg Verga has learned he’d better take climate change seriously. He has evolved since his last run for office to the point where he now says, “Whether you believe in climate change or not, just look out the window.” He has to start somewhere, I guess.
Dams and seawalls are only one recent example of infrastructure projects that mitigate the impact of climate change and sea level rise, all on a budget. Under Mayor Sefatia’s leadership, major improvements such as upgrades to streetlights, overhauls in HVAC systems in municipal buildings, electric vehicles and more are ongoing thanks to massive infusions of grant and utilities funding she and her administration have been able to utilize.
In his own words, Greg Verga is the conventional alternative to our unconventional mayor. He talks about concerns like potholes and private roads: serious matters to be sure, but there is more to be said and done. He has had no visible presence in governmental activities since he left office. He has also said that he didn’t want to run for mayor and had to be persuaded.
Sefatia Giambanco Romeo Theken IS Gloucester, heart and soul, and in all its complexities. This is why I am supporting her in “Moving Gloucester Forward Together” and voting for her on Nov. 2.