Hey all – it’s the brief return of Your Clam with our latest effort in groupthink – the biennial Clamdorsements for the Gloucester municipal elections. A couple of years ago we wrote these for Salem and Beverly too, but frankly their elections are a lot more boring right now so they’re not worth the effort. Maybe we’ll do a snarky Facebook post about them the week before. But most of us live in Gloucester, and that’s first in our bivalve hearts. Plus it’s batshit crazy here in town.
The Clam’s choice for Mayor: Incumbent Greg Verga.
The Clam has been hard on Verga in past elections, but we give a tip of the hat to him: he’s been a steady hand during this term. He’s tackling the big issues (secondary sewer treatment plant kicked down the road for 40 years; climate changes; long-range planning with community involvement; allocating ARPA funds to improve infrastructure) and the softer, fuzzier ones (participating as much as possible in Gloucester’s 400+ anniversary events).
He hasn’t shied away from difficult issues. He’s managed to increase the City’s road budget by 500%, no mean feat. He helped get us through a severe drought accompanied by days-long wildfires. He has repeatedly said he wants Gloucester to be a place his grandchildren can enjoy well into adulthood. That also means making it as affordable as possible to live here, and he has been a man of his word as far as working toward more diverse housing stock for all including directing $1.5M of ARPA funding to that end.
And to be clear, we were big Sefatia stans during her time in office. She had a good staff, she was entertaining and generally competent, and she was basically the more fun Id of Gloucester. Despite that, we’re enjoying the lack of drama associated with Mayor Verga a lot more than we ever expected to. He doesn’t make a lot of fuss, he just does the job well.
Challenger: Mary Ellen Rose
Where do we even start? This is MER’s second or third time running for office in Gloucester. She ran for Council in 2011 but did not win. She was our Health Department director for…five months and three weeks. Yes, she has a Ph.D., but what good does that education do when she thinks “Sound of Freedom” is legitimate journalism?
Comments during her public, Zoom-recorded job interview included an anecdote about how she told a room full of Black graduate students they had no idea what it was like to be in her position as a white person with no support at home, basically saying she feels she has been overlooked for opportunities because of the color of her skin. She said that! With a straight face! Tell us you don’t understand white privilege without telling us you don’t understand white privilege, Mary Ellen. And, no, it is not our job to explain it to you.
Perhaps out of sheer desperation, MER was hired for the Health Department director job but stayed only 5 months. She did say during the Lanesville debate she’d be happy to share her personnel file with whoever is interested. We at The Clam are wondering if she would allow the City to release the record. Sure, she says she has her personnel file on hand. If it is also the same as the one in the City of Gloucester Personnel Department, why not just make that one public? As a former City employee, she could do that.
What we do know is, thanks to a Public Record request for MER’s City-owned cell phone records, it seems her political stance is in line with the far-right. We’ll put the screen shots on our Facebook page because, honestly, this is long enough already and we don’t want you to leave this blog post yet.
Still not sure? Here’s a fun new game we’re calling “Match the quotes below to the candidate for Mayor who said them!”*
*these things could have been said in past bids for office as well. All public statements are fair game.
- “I don’t want this city to become a bedroom community of Boston or a welfare state”
- “You have no idea what’s it like to be a white person from an uneducated background”
- “Public participation is a crucial piece around the future of the former East Gloucester School site”
- “Beware of those who share information who do not have generational roots in Gloucester”
- “I believe housing is a basic human right”
- “It was a privilege to share a moment with 97 immigrants”
Vote Verga, yo. Bonus: good alliteration.
(answer key: 1 – MER, 2 – MER, 3 – Verga, 4 – MER, 5 – Verga, 6 – Verga)
Val Gilman (Current Ward 4 Councilor and City Council President)
Chris Dimercurio-Sicuranza (but he’s finally going with the shorter name on the ballot)
The Clam endorses the following candidates for Councilor-at-Large:
First of all, we’re huge fans of both Jason and Chris. Jason Grow is admittedly a good friend to a lot of the Core Clams. We love his practical approach to government. Chris was the person who did a lot to help keep the Sefatia administration on track, and he’s a government pro. Val and Tony are both longtime Gloucester leaders. Val is stepping out of her Ward 4 role and going for At-Large this term, which would be her 4th on City Council. Gloucester City Council has finally been able to resume hybrid meetings as of September. Val has repeatedly expressed her desire to follow Council rules of procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order. We’ve seen what happens when Council meetings go off the rails. As the Council President, Val is charged with reining in her rowdier colleagues and members of the public, many of whom do not care to learn how Open Meeting Law or City Council agendas actually work. We want representation with experience running meetings, please and thank you. This hearkens back to when Jim Destino was the Council President and streamlined the agendas so not every meeting went past 11pm.
Tony also goes by Robert’s Rules and all that other stuff, and he is intimately familiar with the struggles of everyday Gloucester citizens here. He’s an OG, as the youths sometimes say.
Jamie O’Hara has admitted to spending the majority of his last term in Florida. Or maybe in West Virginia? This he told a CBS Boston reporter, sounding almost bemused.
What the hell, dude? Is this a joke to you? You are supposed to be representing Gloucester, not Pensacola. We don’t care how many American flags you use for your Zoom background photo. You are out for yourself and you are making a mockery of our government.
For real, tho
Jeff Worthley: The Clam is once again not endorsing Jeff Worthley. We are too tired to even bother saying why. Like, if Jeff was our boyfriend, we’d be muting his notifications because gurl, he just does not stop with the DM’s. We already told him we have work tomorrow.
Besides that, Jeff is a blatantly opportunistic politician. One of many examples: How much control does he have over Gloucester Public Schools Paraprofessional salaries? None. Zero. That’s up to the School Committee. Yet he has somehow managed to convince swaths of locals that some of his competitors aren’t in favor of a living wage (laughably untrue). What happens if he’s re-elected and the paraprofessionals are still in the midst of mediation with the School Committee? We somehow don’t think they’ll lay the blame at Jeff’s feet despite the ownership he’s taken of the situation.
On a scale of political opportunism from Stubbs, 20-year Mayor of Talkeetna, AK (least) to Sarah Palin, Tina Fey impersonator (most), the Clam finds Councilor Worthley somewhere between Springfield Mayor Joe Quimby and Schitt’s Creek Mayor Roland Schitt.
Incumbent: Scott Memhard. Scott has been a steadfast and calm listener during his time as the Ward 1 Councilor, even as he was undergoing major heart surgery during the COVID pandemic. We haven’t always agreed with his votes, but it is obvious his colleagues respect him, and that instills confidence in us. Scott picks up the Clamdorsement for Ward 1.
Challenger: Mary-Ann Albert Boucher, known in some circles as Queen MAAB. Vocal NIMBY. Says she educates herself by listening and participating in meetings, yet somehow still believes she understands traffic studies better than people who do them for a living.
WARD 2 (open seat):
Both of these men are professional, well-educated, and invested in their neighborhoods. Dylan and Dan have both earned the Clamdorsement, we believe either would serve the Ward well. Lucky you, Ward 2!
Just before publication, we received word that NEITHER of the Ward 2 candidates received an official invitation to participate in the 10/25 Chamber of Commerce debate. They both heard about it that morning, and apparently not through official channels. Rather than scramble to get ready for it at the last minute, both teams talked to each other and issued a joint statement. Good for them. We are even more impressed.
Marjorie Grace: Liberal and can’t stand Trump, which we Clammunists appreciate, but another vocal NIMBY. Also hates tourists, yet relishes being a tourist elsewhere. Yr The Clam is, itself, not too fond of tourism. It’s a reality of our economy, though, and we want our many friends who rely on tourism for income to be able to stay put.
Joe Orlando (no, not that one, and not that one, either.) This Joe Orlando was on the Council in the ‘80’s. Unlike Marjorie, Joe answered the recent Housing4All municipal candidate survey and seems to have a good grasp of the housing crisis here. That’s good enough for us. Joe gets the Clamdorsement for Ward 3.
Frank Margiotta (current Ward 3 Councilor): even-handed and well-thought-out responses during meetings. Responsive to constituents. Does his research. Does not play favorites. Frank handily picks up the Clamdorsement.
Mary-Pat Da Rosa: Cape Ann GOP favorite. Don’t do it, Ward 4.
Unopposed Incumbent: Sean Nolan. Yr The Clam is a big Sean Nolan stan. We’re thrilled he is willing to put up with all this nonsense for another term.
We’ll cover the School Committee race in a couple of days – but that’ll just be a Facebook post.