Two years ago Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove burst onto the local scene, squarely defeating the incumbent, Ken Gray. She was only 34 at the time; the youngest mayor in the city’s history won that race on a dual promise to move the city forward and increase transparency in government.
Less than 75 days after taking office, the coronavirus pandemic upended our lives, closing schools, shutting down businesses, forcing people into isolation and sending the economy into a spiral. Mayor Gove responded with foresight, compassion, and direction.
Recognizing residents needed leadership, she hosted weekly Facebook Live discussions, creating an open forum – a regular two-way discussion – to help the community work together and move forward. Residents’ concerns spanned everything from remote instruction and lost income to stricken relatives, mask mandates, and vaccine access. Her outreach gave people confidence and reassurance during a most difficult time.
When the COVID vaccines finally became available, Gove was at the forefront of a local initiative to bring vaccines to the region so area residents would not have to scurry all over the state for a saving shot. When health directors from Amesbury and eight other municipalities formed the Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative and needed a location in the region to set up a vaccination clinic, Gove offered Amesbury High School, which was quickly turned into an efficient operation helping thousands of people get the shots they needed, without having to wade through a bureaucracy and travel across the state to be vaccinated. By one measure last spring, about 30,000 people had been vaccinated through the efforts of the regional collaborative.
Gove’s administration also invested in OpenGov, SeeClickFix and ClearGov, online programs that enable residents to apply for permits, report problems to the Public Works Department, and monitor how their taxes were being spent by the city — all from the safety of home. The programs came with a cost but served to bring transparency to local government and helped residents more easily negotiate the local bureaucracy, goals a taxpayer in any community would appreciate.
Gove faces a challenge from State Rep. James Kelcourse, who has ably proven he’s in touch with residents in his district and tries to be a direct contact to help them address concerns. Both candidates clearly love the city of Amesbury and are working hard for the people who live there. But Gove’s vision and ability to quickly rise to meet the huge challenges brought on by the pandemic show she can do the job with flying colors.
Two years ago this newspaper endorsed then-incumbent Gray over Gove, citing the city’s progress during his term in office. We said “experience and accomplishments — and an eye on the future — count for a lot.” They still do – and the seasoning Kassandra Gove developed throughout the pandemic will serve the city well in a second term.
Gove has made great strides for Amesbury in two years, during a public health crisis, yet as she says, her work has just begun.
Like Mayor Gove, we too are looking forward, and endorse her for another two years as mayor of Amesbury.