Whelp, our intentions for the start of the year here at Ye Olde The Clam Internet Humor Site lie now in utter ruin. We had totally been planning on coming back strong off our much-needed R&R/court-mandated confinement with something cute and fun like:
TOP TEN GLOUCESTER REALITY SHOWS THAT CAN STEP UP AFTER “WICKED TUNA” IS DONE
It was mad funny, there was one called “Nips!” which featured beachwear malfunctions and clandestine drinking. You guys would have loved it, we had pictures and everything. But then the Mayor goes and resigns and people are making us do a journalism. Your loss.
CLAMSPLAINER, THE MAYOR:
Back in November longtime Mayor Kirk endorsed Charlie Baker for governor. That was weird because, like, why would she? It’s not as if he championed any particularly Gloucester-critical issues. In fact, in a debate answer to an unbelievably stupid fucking question he made up some weird shit about weeping over a fictional fisherman who Baker claimed had convinced his sons to join him on the boat even after receiving full scholarships to college. This was both strange and also insultingly dumbass because he made college and fishing seem mutually exclusive.
Son: “Dad, I’ve got a full scholarship to college, a 100K value at least!”
Dad: “Fuck that son, come fish with me. Also your brother too, who also has a full scholarship. You should both come fish with me RIGHT NOW, not in four years after school, nosir. Because education is anathema to we simplistic fisher folk.”
Charlie Baker: *Weeps*
Then nobody could find the guy who said it (because no one on fucking Earth would say that), Baker kind of walked it back and then didn’t. It was all weird and stupid and a huge campaign goof. But fortunately for Baker when running against Martha Coakley you’ve got to work harder than that at profound ineptitude because she just OWNS being a shit candidate and no cockamamie fish-guy story was going to keep her from her destiny of losing two major, winnable elections against Republicans in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts. “Back off, Charlie! This humiliating loss is MINE!”
Kirk’s endorsement was odd because she’s also supposedly a Democrat. Why endorse that guy? I mean, he’s not exactly Stalin or anything, but why bother? Charlie’s salty tears didn’t even win him Gloucester btw, he lost here. The whole thing was bizarre.
Fast forward to today and by sheer coincidence she’s offered a job in his administration. Pure chance. Like, they were going through Romney’s women binder maybe and her name came up. Whatever. This is how the game works.
So here we are with a mayor ghosting in short order. The Gloucester city charter, which many believe was originally scrawled out on napkins at Destino’s, says that since she is officially resigning after the 31st, the city councilors must select amongst themselves one of their own number to take the executive slot.
If they fail to do so then President of the City Council, currently Paul McGeary, automatically becomes Mayor. Simple enough, right? But here is where it gets complicated. More. More complicated.
As many may remember in the Fall longtime City Councilor Jackie Hardy passed away. There was all this talk about mandating her replacement be an “interim councilor” until the next election, using the example of a previous Mayor who left to join a gubernatorial administration in the past. To be clear: They used the example of a Mayor to talk about the appointment of a Councilor. Got it? This is important to understand the essence of the situation.
There is some logic, of course, wanting to give the voters their due voice, but then there were questions if anyone could actually enforce that precondition or not because there was tomato sauce obscuring that part of the charter or whatever. Can the Council actually make that demand? It turns out sorta no. I get that they were trying to solve a real issue and this was a solve, but it was election season and there was all kinds of high dudgeon about the place and this whole thing wound up getting blown out of proportion.
So fast forward to today and we need a mayor. The council has to appoint that person and if they choose to run in the regular election in November they can, like, the napkin is totes clear about that. Buuuut, some of the same people who suggested the enforced temporary councillor dealio also may want to run for mayor in the Fall their own selves. They no doubt are worried a loud chorus of people are going to go, “BUT YOU WANTED THE CITY COUNCIL POSITION TO BE INTERIM BASED ON THE EXAMPLE OF A MAYOR, SO WHY NOT THE SAME FOR THE MAYOR NOW!?!?! HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT, MISTER HYPOCRITICAL, HENG?”
In a normal world the Council would appoint someone and then they’d just run in the election and that would be the way the cookie crumbled. In hindsight one can point out that being mayor and councilor are fundamentally different things, one is a full time job, the other is part time and involve different levels of responsibility, yadda yadda. You should read Bob Stewart’s bit about it in the GDT because it’s all sensible and stuff.
But since these guys went skeet shooting with their own feet about the “one and done” thing and used a mayoral example to back it up, we’re in kind of a mess. Greg Verga is running for mayor and won’t take the interim. Paul Lundberg has said he’s not interested in the temp job and is rumored to be considering a run as well. Paul McGeary, who was both the loudest voice for the interim-only Councilor Hardy replacement idea and is also the guy who winds up as mayor by default, maybe also wants to run in November and is showing no signs of wanting the temp slot.
But now Sefatia Romero Theken says she’s interested
Okaaaaaaay. That’s……interesting. This takes the heat off the Pauls for the whole “one and done” mess and tees up the candidates for the election, so one can see the appeal to the Council right now. But Sefatia? The Godmother? Mayor?
You know who loves Sefatia? Me, that’s who. Like actual love. Seriously. She has helped endless people in this town. My family, for instance. My brother, a fisherman who was hit by a bus (he’s no good on land) owes his current condition of being alive to her. She’s an amazing person. She knows everybody and everything about everybody and unlike most people has an actual track record of getting shit done.
But what worries me most about Sefatia is not the fact that she’s one of the most notable characters in a town full to the waterline with big personalities. Sure, I have some concern that we’ll have another high-profile incident requiring a public response and she’ll punch a news reporter in the throat on national TV, telling him to go fuck himself because she’s busy trying to get the disabled Hood blimp out of the wind turbines or whatever the situation is, and then they’ll eat her alive. And yeah, I’m a little concerned that she’s suddenly going to be playing in a field where not everybody loves her, so I’m worried.
But the biggest thing I’m concerned about is that she’s going to have to get really good at saying “no.”
Because she’s not good at that. People come to her with things and she tries to help them. All of them. With everything she literally has. Her faith is obviously her core, but what’s different from her than most people is she’s crazy enough to ACTUALLY TRY TO DO WHAT IT SAYS. She gives to the poor, the helpless, the downtrodden, the stranger. Who does that?
And as mayor, if she winds up in that spot, she’s going to be presented every day with holes that can’t be filled, both literally and figuratively. Lord knows that we’ve come to see our fellow humans as disposable commodities in this Darwinian economy we find ourselves in here in the 21st century, but the reality is that being an executive is mostly about making unpleasant trade-offs rather than solving problems. Fire stations or schools? Cops or potholes? New sewers or affordable housing? Everyone has a hand out and each palm represents a legit need. The owners of those hands will belong to people she knows. The competing needs and interests rest in a frail balance.
“Frail” and “Balance” are not two words that have never been associated with Sefatia. She’s a “To the max” kind of person, it’s what we love about her.
Think about who usually become politicians: lawyers and businesspeople. Why? Because they are used to balancing interests, holding back and putting the benefits of one group ahead of another if it means meeting their goals. Can she do that? Will her outsized humanity allow her to do that?
And what to hope for? If she’s mayor, I want her to be successful. But I want her to be her, and a Sefatia who turns people away isn’t the Sefatia I know.
Stay tuned, Clampansinos. Thursday is the day.