GLOUCESTER — Carolyn Kirk rolled into a fourth term in Gloucester’s mayor’s office last night, securing her Dale Avenue desk for a seventh and eighth year by capturing 58 percent of the vote and welcoming the results with a whoop and cheers from friends and supporters and hugs and high-fives from family, all gathered at her home.
“We worked hard for it. We didn’t take any vote for granted,” Kirk said, before heading off to City Hall on her way to an after-party at the Franklin. “The voters have spoken, and we’ll take a good, hard look at what they had to say.”
Kirk bested Bell, 4,724 votes to 2,979. Bell spoke with an intimate gathering of supporters before heading over to City Hall to pass his congratulations on to the mayor.
“We’re all a little surprised, but we all knew going into it that this would be a huge mountain to climb. I have pure appreciation. I’m totally gratified,” Bell said. “We’ve put forth our best spirit, and we have nothing to regret.”
Later, as he considered the spirited debates and probing questions to the mayor over the course of the election, he added, “Hopefully, we’ll have a better mayor as a result of this race.”
The final tally also included 400 write-in votes, most of them likely directed to Joe Palmisano, whose neighbors in the Port Community Alliance urged voters to write him as a mayoral candidate. Poll official had not broken down the specific write-in votes as of last night.
Bell and Kirk had dueled at several debates during the race for mayor, often butting heads on hot-button issues relating to city-owned property or the current administration’s frequent use of third-party consultants.
While Kirk had funded her over $30,000 campaign mostly with money raised at a series of campaign events, Bell had centered his campaign around visiting local groups, knocking on doors and lending his own campaign $2,300, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.
Voter James J. Formichella said on a light note that one aspect of Bell’s grass-roots campaign strategy had won him over.
“He left me a cookie when I wasn’t home,” Formichella said, voting at West Parish School. “I can be bought for a cookie.”
Other voters who had pushed for a Bell win identified with his views on “respecting” city-owned property, his distaste for the handling of the Fuller and 1-4,C-2 properties, and his campaign’s recurring message of government existing to serve the people. Bell has proposed implementing term limits for mayor in the city, and some voters who supported him jived with that idea.
“You stay in office too long, you get stagnant,” Raymond Fisher said. He cast a vote for Bell, saying Bell was the candidate he best related to.
Residents who voted for Kirk, however, said they supported the decisions she has made in leading the city over the past six years.