To the editor:

The group Amesbury Stands Against Racism (ASAR) sent a questionnaire to Mayor Gove and state Rep. Kelcourse on Aug. 18.

Our 750-member group wanted to find out where each candidate for mayor stands on the issues important to us. We requested responses by Aug. 31 and informed the candidates that answers would be published.

ASAR received in-depth responses from Mayor Gove but did not receive anything from Rep. Kelcourse, even after contacting him three times and offering to extend the deadline.

We were disappointed and surprised. We expected both candidates to welcome the opportunity to answer questions and clarify their positions to an Amesbury-based group with specific concerns.

The first question we asked was also asked during the mayoral debate: “Do you think Amesbury is a welcoming community to Black, Indigenous, and people of color? And what could you do as mayor to increase racial and ethnic diversity in Amesbury and make it a welcoming community?”

Mayor Gove’s response to our questionnaire and at the debate was thoughtful and detailed. She demonstrated awareness of the issue of inclusiveness, admitted shortcomings of our city’s systems, mentioned the Equity & Inclusion Design Team she assembled last year that will oversee training of city staff. Gove shows a willingness to hear feedback and to continue learning.

We gave Rep. Kelcourse the benefit of the doubt, hoping we’d learn more during the debate. And we did. To be frank, we were stunned by his response to the question.

He said, “I think Amesbury is a very welcoming community. No one needs to look further than Our Neighbors’ Table, Pettengill House, the churches that open their doors. I often turn to St. Vincent de Paul as one of my resources. ... They always step up to provide whatever may be needed – housing, because somebody might be homeless … .”

When asked if Amesbury is welcoming, Kelcourse equated BIPOC with poverty and homelessness.

We also noticed that he said nothing about what he’d do to make Amesbury more inclusive.

We hope he watched the debate video afterward and learned from Mayor Gove’s response. We hope you’ll watch it, too, on Amesbury Community Access TV’s website.

ASAR looks forward to working with the elected leaders of our community to make sure Amesbury is welcoming to our Black, Indigenous, and people of color neighbors and visitors.

Caitlin LeMay

Amesbury

Amesbury Stands Against Racism

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