To the editor:
Incumbent councilors at-large Melissa Cox and Jamie O’Hara do their homework. They also respectfully listen to their constituents, whether they agree with them or not. They deserve to be reelected.
Candidates for councilors at large Chris DiMercurio Sicuranza, Peter Cannavo, John McCarthy and Joe Ciolino also seem to share those traits. Any two of them would be good additions to the Gloucester City Council.
However, I cannot make the same recommendation for incumbent Jen Holmgren. One thing that councilor at large Holmgren does not do is her homework, not consistently. Neither is she responsive or respectful to constituents. She not only never returned my calls or responded to my emails, when I saw her in person she angrily told me that she would not talk to me, listen to me or read anything I send her because she trusts the opinion of the chairman of the Gloucester Board of Health on the topic of fluoridation. But, it’s not just me who she ignores and abuses.
I was forwarded a one-line response from Holmgren to Carmine Gorga and Alan MacMillan. Gorga had emailed his response to the Board of Health chair on risk assessment and fluoridation policy to the City Council. Gorga carbon-copied Alan MacMillan. MacMillan had replied all with a “well done, Carmine” and quoted Winston Churchill. Holmgren replied by sending an insulting one-line response — a link to the “Godwin Law” in Wikipedia about the devolvement of social media conversations with references to Nazis and Hitler. A subsequent public records request shows that Holmgren then sent a note to the other councilors saying she knows these things because her father was a World War II historian.
I believe Holmgren is just shy of 40. Carmine Gorga is in his mid-80s. He is a Fulbright scholar with an impressive resume and a longtime Gloucester resident who has led a life of service for longer than Holmgren has been alive. Gorga was born in the province of Salerno, Italy. Gorga experienced both the Nazi occupation and the Allied invasion. Neither Gorga nor MacMillan mentioned Nazis or Hitler.
Alan MacMillan is in his 70s and has served for more than 30 years on the Rockport Conservation Commission, which like the Gloucester Conservation Commission is on record opposing fluoridation as environmentally harmful and unsustainable. These commissions based their opinions on their review of scientific evidence.
The entire city should be appalled that in July, Holmgren vigorously argued against allowing a public hearing that would have included environmental science and expert testimony from Massachusetts scientists on published studies that contradict her opinion.
In my opinion, anyone who refuses to respectfully engage with constituents or consider evidence that disagrees with an opinion forfeits any right to a seat on the City Council.
Vote for O’Hara, Cox, Sicuranza and either Cannavo, Ciolino or McCarthy. They’ve demonstrated the behaviors we expect in a councilor at large.
Karen Favazza Spencer
*Original letter online at https://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letter-councilor-must-listen-to-constituents/article_149a92b6-6f9b-5e31-bf30-88fcb9cae490.html