Clam Voter Guide, Tombstone Edition

TLDR: On Tuesday, November 7 vote for Paul Lundberg and Jen Holmgren and Melissa Cox for the At-Large seats on the City Council. If you feel the need to add a fourth, go with Joe Ciolino.  

We think Joe Giacalone is the better choice for Ward 2.

Just vote the incumbents on the school council. The one other guy running, Scotadam J. Chernov, we’re told hasn’t been to a single meeting and that’s just…no.

There’s a whole lot of “no” in this piece, btw. It’s sort of a theme. 

For those of you who feel the pressing need to read another 1,300 odd   more words on this feel free to keep going, but you’re busy people, we know that.  

As is traditional, we begin by reminding everyone we are not journalists even though we get quoted in the fucking Washington Post for some reason. This whole blog, started on a literal dare, in its infancy was dedicated mostly to coming up with amusing names for non-existent gay strip clubs on Cape Ann. Remember “Man-Chest by the Sea?” Of course you don’t.

So the local races are coming up in November. We’re a little more than a week out.

“Hey The Clam, tell us who we should vote for because I have no idea about any of these people and I live in a literal cave and wear clothes made out of moss and spend my days making teeny tiny little top hats for the pillbugs I keep in an old Altoids tin.” This is a thing we are hearing now. Ok, fine. Here’s our take. Oh, and remember we sort of don’t care if you don’t agree with us. Feel free to go have your own angry freak out about how horrible and wrong we are on your corner of the Internet.


This is easy. Sefatia, Sefatia, Sefatia. (If you say her name three times fast, she shows up at your house with sugo, I’ve been told).

The other guy is bats. Sefatia will beat him in the saddest landslide that Stevie Nicks hasn’t sang.

We hate to be pedants, but when a snow covered hill cuts loose, it’s not a landslide, it’s an avalanche. Oh, who are we kidding, we love being pedants.

City Council, At Large:

Clamsplainer: What the eff is that? The City Council is like the Congress: they vote on stuff like the ban on polystyrene cups, dog ordinances, and most importantly, the budget. They have committees and this is where a lot of the local laws affecting our day-to-day lives in Gloucester come from. The At-Large Councilors are not from any particular “ward” or section of the city (helpful map), but serve the whole city and have to be elected by voters from the entire city, rather than just that district. There are four slots on the City Council for At Large councilors.

At Large is where the real game is this year. Currently the seats are held by Paul Lundberg, Joe Ciolino, Jamie Ohara (sic) and Joe Orlando Jr., all of whom are running for reelection. New folks running: Jen Holmgren, Melissa Cox (Ward 2 Councilor going for At-Large), and Robert D. Whynott Sr.  So, in the TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) at the top of this piece, we’re suggesting you ditch two of the existing councilors who are running again and replace them. “Why, The Clam? Why should we make such a bold move?” you ask, rattling your tin at us menacingly. Shall we solve in listiclce? Yes, let’s shall!

Reasons you should do what the Clam Says for the At Large Race:


  1. Paul Lundberg and Joe Ciolino: Two dudes who’ve been doing this pretty effectively for a long time. Paul is a retired operations guy for a major railroad and Joe is a successful Gloucester small businessman. Full disclosure we hear Joe is hard to work with and honestly, particularly the way he speaks to people, particularly a few of our female readers have mentioned this, needs work. STOP TALKING TO WOMEN LIKE THEY ARE PETS/CHILDREN AMERICA/WORLD. But that’s still our recommendation, based on the choices at hand.
  2. OUR BIG CLAMDORSEMENT THIS YEAR: Jen Holmgren: Jen is a nurse and young person who’s involved in, like, everything. She goes to all the meetings (reports say she’s been to more sub- committee meetings and full council meetings than most councilors), talks to folks in that way good nurses do to find out what the addressable parts of the problem are, and comes up with working solutions based on the resources at hand. She went to the High School and has a kid at West Parish and was supportive to other parents and community members during that ongoing nightmare, so she has major cred. To be honest, The Clam has disagreed with her on several important issues, like Sanctuary Cities which she claims may do more harm than good for everyone. But, even further full disclosure, The Clam is somewhat radical on most fronts and is pretty much in favor of establishing a post-scarcity, technology-driven utopian anarchy in Gloucester, which may be beyond the immediate reach of the City Council (until the Singularity, that is). She’s our big endorsement this time around. We need someone like her, bad.  YOU ARE CLAMANDED TO VOTE JEN. 
  3. Melissa Cox: Another person with whom we sometimes disagree, but critically (unlike ourselves) she is not an ideologue. She’s pragmatic and budget-minded. The most important thing to know about Melissa is that she takes on every issue and thinks about it objectively, and fights for what’s right. You can talk to Melissa, and she does respond – quickly. She singlehandedly saved KT’s wedding earlier this summer by helping unlock the city hall on Saturday because KT AND JOEY FORGOT TO PICK UP THEIR MARRIAGE LICENSE.  She’s a good choice. We’re not going to wax on about Melissa because she’s the kind of person you don’t really need to explain that hard… she just gets shit done. Worth your vote.

Gender: key note, electing these two means the gender balance of the Council goes from its current 2/9 (Cox and Gillman from Ward 4) to 3/9. Progress, folks.


  1. Joe Orlando Jr: Positions himself as the “young” and a “fiscally responsible, pro-business” voice for for Gloucester. After the past two weeks, just no. His family are unabashedly pro-Trump. His campaign chair single-handedly caused the West Parish debacle and now the principal has to be escorted around for her safety because his campaign unapologetically brought the attention of ultra-right-wing paranoid lunatics to our town over a tiny matter that was being handled internally. They are, in our opinion, truly responsible for thousands of dollars in direct costs like police details and time spent opening angry emails and letters and interviews and who knows how much in indirect costs due to hits on our reputation. THIS IS VERY BAD AND WRONG. Also, for a young voice, he voted in favor of keeping polystyrene cups around, which to us is just… odd. Most young people are hipper to the increasingly threatened environment as they are going to be living in it longer.
  2. Jamie OHARA or Ohara or O’hara or O’Hara or OHaha (we’re not clear): He’s your “police and fire” candidate who supports all things public safety. The main reason we don’t support him is when he was knocking on doors during his successful run last round, we mentioned to him his stump speech was somewhat heavy on… how do we say it… fear mongering? Yes, public safety is important. But you have to have stuff to defend, like schools and roads and a community and so on. We respect and fully support the necessary and often risky work of public safety, but are squicked out by “cop groupies” and Ohara pushed that button hard for us during that meeting. So no to him.
  3. Bob Whynott Sr.: For real? The world’s crankiest candidate is running on the issue of keeping all plastic bags and styrofoam cups, and reopening the morass that is the Fuller School deal on which we’ve finally made some progress (though obviously there are still issues to be worked out). Great. A throwback candidate. Fuller again? FFS. I think I’d rather have a candidate focused on “Reading into the public record the poetry produced by Jim Dowd in the week immediately following his painful sophomore-year breakup with Molly Brackman”, than a reopening of the Fuller debate. Bob feels like he’s running to win a campaign in the 80’s, but due to current constraints in physics and engineering, campaigns cannot run to win elections in the past. So nopey nope nope on Bob. Also, last time he was on the council, he voted to keep the dangerous parking on lower Prospect across from the DES club because… drumroll… he uses that to park for church. When the public safety aspect was brought up by our men in uniform (you can’t get an ambulance through with a car coming the other way when there’s parking on both sides), he helpfully pointed out “isn’t that what your lights and sirens are for?” So much no.

    Onboard the Trump Truck

Ward 2: Joe Giacalone v. Ken Hecht. This is actually a place where we know and like both candidates. But Joe here is the better choice, in our opinion, simply because we’ve known him for years and he grew up in 2, knows everyone there, and every issue down to the bricks in the sidewalk. That’s the kind of representation we want to see there, because in our opinion it’s the tightest ward in town both by density and community, is in a lot of ways the most vulnerable, and definitely the one most under threat from gentrification and Ken is a developer which we’re not sure we’re super cool with having on the council. Developers are necessary and we get it (we also really like his latest project of artist spaces above Jalapenos), but should they be in government? It’s… a grey line for us. Lots of conflicts.  So we think Joe has a grip on this and the ward will benefit from his representation. 

Ok, that’s it. Commence freaking out and unfriending us or whatever. We’re used to it. Also, let those pillbugs go, they’ll die in there, you freak.

Clam, out.


Respect is Earned, Not Given. Trump Hasn’t Earned It.

So our local GOP chairwoman Amanda Orlando Kesterson, as well as her brother Joe, who is running for re-election to the council, caught wind of a gravestone at the West Parish halloween party that said “Don Trump.” (UPDATE: It apparently according to a few local parents, was part of a game that first appeared at a Boy Scouts party – Kesterson is heavily involved in the local Boy Scouts, for what it’s worth.) And then they ran to the media with it, immediately bypassing the school’s principal and superintendent. I was told becoming massively offended about a tiny thing was what “liberal snowflakes” do, but I guess it’s more bipartisan than they’d care to admit. Was it in bad taste? Probably not the best taste, but there’s some serious melodrama about how terrible and disgusting it was from the same people who “hate PC culture” and whose predecessor in her chairwoman job, Angela Hudak, posted photos of Obama as Osama Bin Laden IN FRONT OF THEIR RESIDENCE. Take a look. 


No,  Amanda, you’re wrong. We shouldn’t teach our children that the office of the President always deserves respect. It’s sad, but until November I did not imagine I would need to type that sentence. We should teach our children to think critically about what a person worthy of high respect and honor looks like and does, so that they grow into people of high respect and honor.

Each previous president, even the ones against my particular political views, were worthy of respect. They spoke with honor, chose their words carefully (even if written by another person), understood the gravity of their office and the job they sought out. I was not a fan of George W Bush, as it just cemented the idea of “failing upward,” but I respected him just as much. Perhaps begrudgingly at the time, but in hindsight, I now respect him more than I did then. It was only the most respected of men that sought the highest office, to represent us as a people, a nation united.

And along came Trump to garbage up the Oval Office. A man who left in his wake of a career bankruptcies, racist policies that kept people of color out of his rental apartments, broken contracts ruining small businessmen, serious allegations of sexual assault,  cheap steaks, and lies. The fact that the man ascended to presidency is an anomaly. He chews respect up and spits it out, daily.  So, here’s a list of things our president has said that the local GOP wants our children to show respect for:

“Marlee, is she retarded??” (about deaf actress Marlee Matlin).

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened.”

“I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” (Rally in Virginia, August 2, 2016, upon receiving a Purple Heart medal from a supporter.)

“She [Alicia Machado] was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.”

“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long [to kick out protesters] is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

“Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

“Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.”

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

“I’ve done it [filed bankruptcy] four times out of hundreds, and I’m glad I did it. I used the laws of the country to my benefit.”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

“Wow! Just think—in a couple of years, I’ll be dating you.” (To two 14 year old girls)

‘Laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that.” (so awful I had to include the source)

“You have to treat ’em [women] like shit.”

“[Arianna Huffington]  is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.”

“Bad (or sick) guy!” (a tweet about Obama)

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Maybe Amanda wants her kids to grow up thinking this is an appropriate way to gain respect and act in your daily life, but I will never teach my children that a man who has said these things is to be respected just because he was voted into office. I respect people who fight for our country. I respect people who run into a burning building. I respect people who give up everything they’ve ever known just to get to our country for the smallest possible chance to build a life here. But until Donald Trump does something that commands respect – literally, ANYTHING – no one should teach our children that this is what a leader who commands respect sounds like.