Please make time to vote
next Tuesday, September 29
A Letter to the Editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, September 24, 2015:
Romeo Theken reflects voters’ values
I’m a “transplant.” I was not born here. I moved to Gloucester just two years ago from Newburyport because I found a community here that welcomed me even though I don’t have a lot of money. I found in Gloucester a city that is proud of its heritage. I admire the working waterfront, the Fort community, and people such as the Parco family of Ocean Crest and Neptune’s Harvest, who are finding innovative ways to grow their Fort-based business, and help to maintain the focus of the local economy to be primarily about fish and the ocean, and not just about shopping and gourmet dining.
The people of Gloucester work hard to take care of their families and their homes, their small businesses, their boats, and they always find time to help someone in need, teach a skill or share a meal. That kind of humanity just does not happen so much in a tourist-based town. I believe that Gloucester’s people are the way they are not just by chance, but because Gloucester has always been grounded in the unique culture of fishing, where values such as cooperation and sharing, and taking care of the ocean are crucial. Lose that, and Gloucester loses its soul.
This is the kind of community I want to be involved in, and contribute to. When it comes time to choosing our representatives in City Hall, I look for people who reflect my values. In Newburyport, I watched (and objected, often!) as, over the past 35 years, city government blatantly rejected the will of the people in favor of selling public waterfront land to private developers who wanted to turn it into an upscale mall. The “leaders” of that city did not represent me at all, nor did they represent the majority of residents. City officials, without asking voters, were only too happy to hand over public land to private condo and retail developers who had no interest in the town, its history, or its culture as a clipper ship building port, other than to provide them with attractive background images for their marketing efforts. The interest of most developers is fundamentally in building their own wealth. I couldn’t stick around and watch it any more. Newburyport has become, for me, a cautionary tale.
Gloucester – the country’s longest operating fishing port — is at an economic turning point, and it has much more at stake than Newburyport does. We do not have to let what is happening in Newburyport, and other places like Newport and Nantucket, happen here. The tourist economy is not inevitable.
City government holds such important power at this point in Gloucester’s development. Because we have no current Master Plan, we rely solely upon the values of the people in City Hall to determine which way Gloucester will go. Will the city accept the challenge to keep seeking innovative and sustainable businesses and projects which support its ocean-based economy and culture, such as Ocean Alliance? And will it materially support its artists who need affordable places to live and work … or will it sell out and become just another banal, anonymous tourist town?
As a new resident, I want Gloucester to remain true to what it is — a proud, creative city embracing the future, not a humbled, defeated city offering its youth nothing but low-wage, dead-end, service industry jobs. In the upcoming mayoral primary, I will vote for Sefatia Romeo Theken because she reflects my values. I trust her to work hard to honor what Gloucester always has been and can still be — a city that is true to itself, too smart to sell out to greedy, selfish developers who come here for all the wrong reasons.
LOIS A. MCNULTY
Lois A. McNulty, Enduring Gloucester’s managing editor, lives in Gloucester. She has made her living on the North Shore over the past 40 years as a public school teacher and newspaper reporter/feature writer.