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Merrimack Valley

September 19, 2013

Mayor wants details from challenger

AMESBURY — In the wake of his first election defeat since taking office, Mayor Thatcher Kezer is challenging his opponent to stop relying on grand platitudes and explain how he hopes to accomplish the goals he’s campaigning on.

Ken Gray, a political newcomer who won Tuesday’s preliminary mayoral election with 52 percent of the vote, is running on a platform of addressing Amesbury’s high tax rate while improving the city’s school system.

In the months leading up to Election Day, Gray and his supporters were out campaigning on a daily basis, and on Tuesday night they were rewarded for their efforts with an eight-point margin of victory over the four-term incumbent, who only kicked off his campaign about two weeks ago.

Kezer had previously won every election since first running for mayor of Amesbury in 2005. On Tuesday, he placed second in the preliminary with 44 percent of the vote. The two candidates will face off in the Nov. 5 general election.

Following Gray’s victory, Kezer said he understands how Gray’s message could sound attractive to voters, but said that there’s a tradeoff between taxes and services, and you can’t just say you’re going to fix all the city’s problems without saying how. He echoed the sentiments being voiced by others in the community, and called on Gray to share details of his plan for the city.

“My challenge to my opponent is this: What is your plan?” Kezer said. “How are you going to meet that balance between controlling taxes and meeting those needs for services?”

Kezer said that as mayor, he has had to make a lot of difficult decisions over the past eight years to strike that balance, and in doing so, he’s opened himself up to criticism from people who don’t have any kind of record of their own.

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