NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 8, 2013

Our view: In Amesbury, a hard road lies ahead

It’s been a long time since we have seen anything remotely like the chaotic election aftermath that is playing out right now in Amesbury. Mayor-elect Ken Gray’s razor-thin margin of victory over Mayor Thatcher Kezer, and the expected recount, have ignited a whirlwind of anger and accusations between activists on both sides of this political split.

It’s raw emotion right now, ramping up in intensity with each back-and-forth between the two camps. Much of it is fueled by Facebook posts that trade accusations, rumors, wrong information and vitriol.

History is a valuable teacher, and Amesbury residents should recall how the political chaos of the 2005 election rent the town in two and made it a laughingstock throughout the region. The political anger translated into outrageous behavior that only served to stagnate the city, if not damage it.

Calmer heads need to prevail so that this process can play out professionally and completely. Amesbury’s residents and officials should strive to honor the legal and traditional expectations of the post-election period.

It will be the biggest and hardest test of a politically divided city, but it needs to happen in order to set the right path toward governing a city where neither side holds the high ground.

Kezer plans to file for a vote recount; Gray has asked that Kezer accept the results and move on. Gray thinks a continuation of the election controversy will only lead to more chaos. The events of the past few days have proven Gray right, but Kezer is entitled legally to a recount, and certainly owes it to his supporters to exhaust the remedies he is allowed to take. The recount is a process that needs to happen.

In the meantime, Gray is pushing forward with his transition-to-office plan, and hopes for Kezer’s cooperation. Gray has every right to begin the transition as the mayor-elect. City officials should cooperate with him, respecting the will of the voters.

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