Incoming Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga made coastal resilience a core campaign priority leading up to Election Day. As Mayor-elect, he is already formulating an integrated climate adaptation plan and identifying the resources available to take action. It’s a process he hopes will jumpstart closer collaboration with neighboring communities like Rockport, Essex, Manchester, Newburyport, Ipswich, Lynn, and other vulnerable municipalities.
“The climatological deck may seem stacked against Gloucester and other coastal cities and towns along the North Shore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it,” says Verga. “We need to ensure initiatives move from plan to funding to action without delays. Massachusetts has a detailed and thoughtful climate action plan with a heavy focus on its coastal vulnerabilities. We need to access and deploy those state resources. It’s a complicated landscape for municipalities to navigate, but we all have to raise our hands and say: ‘This is what we need here.’
Within a week of Election Day, Verga had chosen and met for the first time with his transition team, a group that is providing daily support to the Mayor-elect as he begins the work of building a more efficient, more transparent, and more collaborative city government. The Mayor-elect is working out of the City Hall Annex, a space provided by the office of the outgoing Mayor to facilitate a seamless and productive transition to a Verga administration.
“There’s a lot of energy and sense of purpose in our regular meetings and our daily communications,” said Verga. “The current city administration is cooperating in good faith and is responding to our requests.”
Mayor-elect Verga has selected a six-member team that brings a broad range of professional experience to the transition effort. The group consists of transition lead Harry Hoglander, former chairman of the federal National Mediation Board; attorney Jim McKenna, former chief administrative officer of Gloucester, former Town Administrator of Dover, and former Winthrop Town Manager; Donna Leete, former human resources director for the City of Gloucester; Linda Vaughan, retired director of guidance for both Rockport and Gloucester high school; Donna Crocker, president of Good Harbor Advisors, Inc.; and Chad Konecky, a Gloucester-based journalist and communications specialist.
Verga and his team are exploring whether, when, and how-best to implement a variety of policy initiatives once he takes office, including but not limited to forming a special mayoral committee on private roads, commissioning a city traffic-flow study, hiring a city sustainability director, conducting a comprehensive review of city zoning ordinances, and supporting the School Committee as a voting member in efforts to expand public-private partnerships to advance science, technology, vocational, and marine-based biosciences training in Gloucester Public Schools.
With respect to climate and coastal vulnerabilities, the Mayor-elect notes that the Gulf of Maine Resource Institute’s Climate Center is launching an outreach effort to engage communities in coastal Massachusetts to pursue resilience planning and identify the financing to take any action. “You can bet we’ll do our best to take advantage of that,” he says. “For us, I think it begins with installing a sustainability coordinator who functions as a Climate Tsar.”
The transition team will meet in person twice weekly and confer daily until the public swearing-in ceremony for the new mayor in January.