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.


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  1. Wow. I was all set to disagree with you on Ken Hecht, but I actually agree with you 100%. All this proves is that I’m not a good predictor of what The Clam thinks. The only thing I disagree with is Joe Ciolino. Enough Joe. Yes, the talking down to women. But also, maybe you missed the debate at the library in which Joe announced that he recused himself from the plastic bag discussion and then launched into his opinions. One of which opinions was: all the people who spoke in favor of the plastic bag ban at the hearing were from out of town. I personally have a “roll of film” (okay, not actual film) of the people who spoke in favor of the plastic bag ban. Why? Because so many of them are my friends who live here in Gloucester. Many of us were sitting right there in the library when he said this. Trumpian politics. Enough Joe.

  2. Gay strip clubs on Cape Ann. LOLOL Back in the mid 60’s there were NO gay people in Gloucester. None. Zip. Nada. Well, except for me, and I wasn’t talking. This column makes more sense from a political standpoint than most anything else I’ve seen. Carry on!

  3. I have to disagree with your position on Ward 2, both as a resident of Ward 2 and as someone peripherally involved with our local government. I work with Ken Hecht on the Planning Board and find his knowledge and experience as a developer to be a real asset to the city. He knows the nuts and bolts involved in big projects and has pushed on numerous projects before the board to make them better for the city and its citizens. Since adopting Gloucester as his home, he’s embraced our community wholeheartedly and worked in numerous ways to make our city a better place. The list is long, but you cited the most recent example of the artist studios… Money meet mouth. No disrespect to Joe — he truly seems to be a good person — but “he grew up here” should not be the primary qualification for serving in our city government.

    • Thank you Shawn for your support on the Ward 2 Campaign. I believe in getting things DONE. Good things for Gloucester. That is why I am running. It is in my blood. In addition to the West End Artist Studios you mentioned above Jalepenos (we just signed up our second and third artists today… very exciting) I am working on getting the large outdoor art mosaic on the ugly Americold Wall on Rogers Street across from Walgreens done. Working on getting security cameras put up at Burnham’s Field to protect our children and families. I am working on a mentoring program for our young women at the middle school and high school to get them more interested in our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs and to have more of them consider science educational avenues and and careers. These are just some of the initiatives I am working on now in addition to my responsibilities on the Planning Board which I take very seriously.

      I would be thrilled to meet with you Clamster. We have never met or spoken on the phone to my recollection. Seems like that might be appropriate as you are recommending who people vote for. When are you available to sit down and actually get to know me? My cell is 617-755-9400. I am really looking forward to it.. Also, might I encourage all Ward 2 voters to attend the debate for Ward 2 City council this Thursday night at 6 at Gloucester Stage. Looking forward to seeing everyone and to a lively debate. You will have a great chance to see both candidates along side one another and then the voters can decide who will actually get things done for Gloucester. Thanks to all and hope to see you at the debate! Ken..

  4. Well – I disagree 1) re. Ward 2 AND 2) regarding Sanctuary City status.

    1) Too much of a knee-jerk about “developers”…that is SO old-school Glosta of you, and a bit disappointing, frankly.

    And, 2) a smidgen of Lefty White Guilt at work here, methinks – rather than the pragmatic, realpolitik (and frankly, far better researched with the people actually involved) opinion and stance that is Jen’s).

    Other than those – you are, of course, perfect.

    • Lisa Day-Copeland

      The Yes or No question about sanctuary at the LWV’s forum did not allow for consideration of the opinion of those who are most affected by the designation…our undocumented neighors. The time has been taken to go out and ask. I am with steady progress on sanctuary that does not endanger real families living here. I’m voting for Jen exactly becauses she gets nuance like that. Full steam ahead on Safe Communities Act at the state level where it becomes to difficult to target.

  5. Ciolino HAS to go! He has the leadership capacity of a dead fish and carries around his Good Old Boy attitude with a swagger. Before being elected Chair he was regularly and completely unprepared for council meetings, because he asked questions that were in his weekly packet and then would made grand-standing statements to no effect. He got back on the council when Sefatia became interim Mayor. Joe has gotta go. He does NOTHING!

  6. Who says writing about politics has to be boring and negative? This is fun, smart and interesting writing – thank you! I’ll agree with Shawn Henry and Hugo B. above. Swing and a miss on your Ward 2 endorsement. Supporting a candidate because he grew up here? You’re better than that, Clam-amigos. Ken Hecht is super-active, super-responsive, and listens to us residents of Ward 2 so he can help us get stuff done. (To pick just one example, I can confirm that Ken is helping us go after improvements for Burnham’s Field. And the guy’s not even elected yet.) Ken Hecht is the better choice for Ward 2, friends.

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