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October 30, 2013

No clear indication of which way voters are leaning

Over the course of this long and eventful campaign season, two distinct political factions have emerged to battle it out for the city’s future, with each boasting a strong candidate for mayor and a wide slate of candidates vying for a spot on the City Council.

On one side, you have Mayor Thatcher Kezer and the majority of the council incumbents, who have joined forces under the banner of the “I Am Pro Amesbury” political action committee that has primarily advertised itself as a community organization.

If elected, these candidates would maintain the direction Amesbury is moving in and continue to emphasize building the commercial/industrial tax base through initiatives like the Lower Millyard.

On the other side, you have a group of challengers — led by mayoral candidate Ken Gray — whose main goal is to address Amesbury’s high tax rate and reduce the tax burden on homeowners who have seen their property values fall as their taxes increase.

While this group hasn’t branded themselves as distinctly as the Pro Amesbury PAC candidates have, they have been vocally supportive of one another on the campaign trail, and efforts to organize an effective challenge to the incumbent candidates have been ongoing since January.

There is clearly a lot of interest on both sides, but without any polls to refer to, there’s no way to tell just how much support each candidate really has.

The one statistically based metric we do have, however, is the results of the Sept. 17 mayoral preliminary. While it’s obviously impossible to be certain how a higher turnout will affect next week’s elections, the preliminary results do shed light on some trends that could indicate in what direction voters are leaning.

In the preliminary, Kezer and Gray each captured three of the city’s six districts. They also split Districts 3 and 4, which have uncontested races for district council, with Kezer taking District 3 by a 52 to 45 percent margin, and Gray taking District 4 by a 52 to 40 percent margin. How the two mayoral candidates perform in those districts shouldn’t have any impact on those council races.

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