By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Tyler Kimball, a late-arriving candidate for mayor, has a strategy for capturing the hearts and minds of children — and hopefully the votes of their parents.
Kimball, whose family has run Kimball Farm on East Broadway for generations, has a campaign strategy that includes teaching children about agriculture and encouraging them to read the newspaper as an educational tool.
As part of his campaign for mayor in this last week leading to the election on Tuesday, Kimball is mailing out personal letters to registered voters in Haverhill explaining why he is running and what he hopes to accomplish.
He said he planned to mail out thousands of letters this week, in time for voters to learn more about him before they cast their ballots.
Yesterday, Kimball arranged to have off-duty police officers and firefighters help him deliver 2,400 pumpkins to Haverhill’s four middle schools in hopes they will spark the imagination of children and teach them about where food comes from and how crops are grown. He said the officers and firefighters volunteered their time to help with the distribution.
Kimball said he hopes students will bring home the pumpkins and, with help from adult family members, turn them into pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread or maybe a side dish for a meal as well as roast the seeds as a healthy snack. He said this member of the squash family can teach children a lot if they are willing to open their minds to the many uses of a pumpkin, in addition to carving them into fun characters for Halloween.
“I also want them to dry the seeds out, save them until next year and plant them in the spring,” Kimball said. “They can either start a garden or plant them in pots and transfer them to a garden.
“I want them to learn about agriculture and nature,” said Kimball, a Haverhill firefighter who is running a sticker campaign because his name will not appear on the ballot. He did not file nomination papers by the deadline.
Part of Kimball’s campaign philosophy is to encourage the use of the newspaper as an educational tool. He says rather than reading the news online, he wants children to read printed newspapers in hopes they will understand their importance, from front-page news to obituaries to the importance of advertising.
“I want kids to learn about what’s in a newspaper,” he said. “From world news to national news to local news, I want them to learn about the world around them. A lot of things are relevant to their lives yet they might not realize it. I want them to know there’s a bigger world out there. We need to make them more aware of the world and the earth.”
Kimball said that even after the hours spent in school, in sports, and times spent doing their homework, children have ample time to learn about the world around them.
“The very simple thing is that kids need more to do outside the classroom,” he said.
Kimball isn’t running a typical campaign. He didn’t start it early in the year, and by choice didn’t take out nomination papers. “Elections last too long and this country has more things to focus on,” Kimball said. “Maybe this will start a trend.”
Kimball, 50, has been an official in the city’s firefighters union, which has feuded with the mayor in recent years over short staffing, saying it put the public in danger. Several years ago, Fiorentini had private detectives tail firefighters who called in sick and filmed them moving furniture and going to youth sporting events. In 2008, Kimball, then union president, engaged in a feud with Fiorentini over contract negotiations and sick-time use by firefighters.
Kimball said he’s no longer a union official and that his running for mayor has nothing to do with the union.
To further distance himself from a typical campaign, Kimball said he is neither asking for or accepting a penny in campaign contributions.
Because Kimball is running a sticker campaign, it means to cast a vote for him would require writing in his name or attaching a sticker with his name on the ballot.
Kimball is an acting lieutenant on the city’s Fire Department and in the past served one year as the union president. In all, he’s been on the force 31 years, the first five years as a Rocks Village volunteer firefighter.
Kimball said his qualifications for mayor include knowledge he gained of the Fire Department budget when he was head of the firefighter’s union in 2008, as well as his experience in running a large farming business.
Kimball wants to better fund the police and fire departments, saying they city is in need of updated equipment and in need of updating old firehouses. But, he wants to accomplish these things without raising taxes.
He said the city’s employees are its biggest assets and wants city workers to be proud of the job they do.