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October 23, 2013

In Amesbury election, 'Pro' camp emerges

AMESBURY — Taxes have dominated the political narrative in Amesbury for years, but now a group of residents and a slate of political candidates have come together hoping to change the conversation.

District 6 City Council candidate Jonathan Sherwood, his wife, Amy, and several other like-minded residents recently launched the “I Am Pro Amesbury” campaign, which they say aims to promote a more positive view of the city while affirming that Amesbury is moving in the right direction.

The effort has taken on a political tone. A slate of closely aligned candidates in the Nov. 5 election have embraced it as a theme and plan to host a campaign rally this weekend, an unusual phenomenon in local elections.

“I think forever, when you tell someone you’re from Amesbury, the first thing they say is, ‘Oh, the taxes!’ And when you live here, and you make it your home, you want to talk about some of the other things in the community,” said Amy Sherwood. “While taxes are an issue — each of us has to pay our tax bill — we really wanted to have some conversations about other things.”

The campaign started on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and since its inception, several public officials have attached themselves to the group, including Mayor Thatcher Kezer, city councilors Allen Neale, Bob Lavoie, Bob Gilday, Anne Ferguson, Jim Kelcourse and District 2 candidate Mary Chatigny.

For the most part, the Pro Amesbury roster constitutes a “who’s who” of residents and officials who support Kezer’s campaign. Despite the similarity in ideals, Sherwood said Kezer had no involvement in the group’s formation, and that the founders largely didn’t even know each other before the campaign season started.

When reached for comment, Kezer reiterated that he wasn’t a part of the group’s formation, but said he signed on immediately when he heard about the message the group is hoping to promote.

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