, Newburyport, MA

November 8, 2013

Time to begin the healing

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

I spent some time Wednesday and Thursday with Bonnijo Kitchen, the city clerk. Based on what I was told, I am satisfied that the results of the election as posted on the city web page are fair, accurate and final. The change from a winning margin of 8 votes to a margin of 2 votes was explained to my satisfaction and I believe it accurately reflects the intentions of the voters. The result is that I won a close election by 2 votes.

It is now up to the mayor to decide how he wants to proceed. He can call for a recount or he can accept that the will of the people was done.

During the last two days I have spoken to many election experts and they have told me that the odds of the outcome changing with a recount are pretty much zero. Nevertheless, we are in the process of retaining high-powered legal counsel while actively seeking donations for legal fees in case the mayor decides to demand a recount.

To avoid what may already be developing into a seriously divisive future for our city, I believe that it is in all of our best interests for the mayor to accept the results and graciously concede.

There have been a number of people who have said that if the situation were reversed, I would also ask for a recount. Here’s what I can say for sure about that.

If I were the eight-year incumbent and I had lost by 2 votes, I would certainly be personally anguished, and my immediate gut-level reaction would be to press for a recount. However, upon consideration of the seriously negative and potentially long-lasting ramifications on the community, I would hold my head high and concede.

If the recount goes forward, it will be a sad chapter for Amesbury and it will further divide an already divided community. It will be protracted, it will be expensive, and it will be painful for everyone. The media will descend on us, and our reputation will be repeatedly muddied.

Most of the incumbent mayors across the state won by convincing margins, in many cases because an incumbent has significant advantages over any challenger, but also because those voters believed their cities were being led in the right direction.

The closeness of this election, the increased turnout and, most importantly, the results speak volumes about what our community thinks about the incumbent.

It would be for the best of the community if Mayor Kezer were to stop the recount initiative now. There will be great praise for his decision from all sides and we can begin the healing immediately.

Ken Gray

Amesbury mayor-elect