, Newburyport, MA

October 24, 2013

Municipal experience counts; vote for Kezer

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Why is Ken Gray running for mayor of Amesbury and what are his qualifications? He’s lived here for 4 years yet has never been involved in the community. He has never served on any city board, committee or the City Council. He has zero municipal, state or federal experience in a municipal environment. He’s been campaigning for six months, yet his plan is vague and incomplete two weeks prior to the election. Whatever Gray’s plan is, he previously commented that he “won’t be able to lower spending.”

Gray also said he would “aggressively negotiate with the unions.” What does he mean? Would it be “his way or the highway”? Has he ever negotiated with unions? What’s his record? He has no record that anyone knows of.

He says he supports the Lower Millyard project. That’s good. It will be the final jewel in Amesbury’s downtown and Mayor Kezer’s legacy accomplishment.

Ken Gray’s dismissal of the concept of leasing versus building new highlights his inexperience. In the case of City Hall, the roof is in dire need of repair. Should the city rebuild or lease? Leasing gives a consistent cost figure with no future maintenance or liability issues. Leasing works great for police and fire vehicles. Comparing the cost of leasing versus building new is fiscally prudent. Dismissing the notion is irresponsible, as Gray did in the Oct. 17 Daily News.

Gray says he will look at city department spending to control costs. Mayor Kezer’s Amestat program has been lauded and copied statewide for its superb cost-controlling capability. Amestat is fiscal management at its best.

Since Mayor Kezer’s first term, he has secured more than $36 million in state and federal funding for Amesbury improvement projects. From 2008-2012, Kezer held spending increases to .8 percent per year, and .4 percent this year, all less than the rate of inflation in a near depression economy. From 2010 to 2013, Kezer increased the school budget 6 percent while enduring $3.4 million in federal aid cuts. Over the past two years, Kezer saved $1,235,000 through healthcare and contract negotiations and regionalization. Amesbury’s bond rating has also risen 2 points, to A+ under Kezers’ watch.

Amesbury deserves a mayor with real municipal experience. Mayor Kezer has worked in municipal settings for 20-plus years. He has also developed strong relationships at the state and federal levels.

Ken Gray has no municipal experience, no state or federal relationships, no history in service to Amesbury, and his plan consists of generalities that offer nothing of substance. This writer suggests that if the position of mayor was a hired position, Ken Gray’s lack of municipal experience wouldn’t even gain him an interview.

Amesbury needs an experienced mayor in city hall, not an inexperienced rookie. A vote for Mayor Thatcher Kezer on Nov. 5 is a vote for an experienced and highly capable leader who has kept Amesbury strong in extremely difficult economic times. Please vote for Mayor Kezer, and keep Amesbury Moving Forward to an even brighter and stronger future.

Bill Chatigny