September 7, 2007

Bacon seeks global connection for Port

By Stephen Tait
Staff Writer

NEWBURYPORT - For Gardiner Bacon, all politics is global.

The 18-year-old pharmacy service associate said his goal is to transform Newburyport from a place that thinks on a local level to one that understands its role is part of a much larger community.

"My goal is to make a community out of what is now a city," he said. "We tend to remove Newburyport from the global perspective, but it is a part, a small part, of the global community.

"I think you are very likely to get out of focus while ignoring the big picture," he said.

Bacon graduated from Newburyport High School this year and works at CVS Pharmacy in the city. He is one of four candidates challenging Mayor John Moak for City Hall's corner office.

He had planned to attend Antioch College if he did not win his mayoral bid, but that school was shut down this year, as it faces increasing financial problems. He said he now must look for other options.

Still, Bacon said he is still seeking the mayoralty and that he is more optimistic about the future than the other candidates.

"Which is how it should be," he said, "because I have more of the future to live. Fifty years from now, I will still worry about the future. Fifty years from now, the other candidates will be dead."

Bacon said he knows the city's finances are tight, but he said the popular talk of continuing to "cut and cut and cut" is not good for the city in the long term. He said it is more important to keep building and improving the city in order to attract more people to Newburyport and bring more taxes into the city's coffers.

If the opposite is done - if services, especially schools, continue to get cut - people will leave the city and create an economic downturn.

"We need to build and create," he said. "It may be spending money we don't have, but you have to do what we have to do because 20 years down the road, it will create a broader tax base."

Raising taxes, he added, is "not a solution, not a reasonable solution."

Sure, he said, it may work for the short term, but communities across America need to look more broadly - or globally - at the situation.

Bacon said under his leadership Newburyport would join the movement to get the defense budget - which is several hundred billion dollars - decreased by 25 percent to help fund schools and communities throughout the United States.

"That is really the only long-term solution to the problem," he said. "Instead of spending that money on forces of destruction, we should be spending money on forces of creation."

Bacon said it is a lofty goal but something that must be done to ensure financial success in the future.

"A lot could be done," he said of the money pared from the military. "The possibilities are endless."

With Bacon's run for mayor also comes questions about his age, which he considers an asset.

"I don't have any experience screwing up our city," he said. "And that is more than what some of my opponents can say."

At 18 years old, electing Bacon would make him one of the youngest - if not the youngest - mayor ever elected in the country. It would also, undoubtedly, attract national media attention.

Bacon said some people use his age against him, but he sees age discrimination as similar to racial, gender and other types of discrimination, with the exception that "it is still publicly acceptable."

"My age is not something I can control," he said, adding that those who say it is a problem are using "inarticulate and biased arguments."

"Inside, I feel old," Bacon added.

Name: Gardiner Bacon

Age: 18

Occupation: Pharmacy service associate at CVS

Family: Single

Education: Newburyport High School graduate

Years in Newburyport: 18

Other roles in city: Youth Commission member; worked on local political campaigns; Democratic City Committee

Do you support a spring override to help fund schools? No, too soon

Do you support a ban on chain stores downtown? Yes, to a certain degree

Would you build or create a senior center? No, would pursue a community center

(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Daily News, an Eagle Tribune Newspaper.)
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