Meet your candidates for mayor

Gillnetter reporter Sofia Orlando interviewed both candidates on education issues


Are you eligible to vote this year? If so, then this year is your prime time to exercise your voting rights and participate in Gloucester’s Mayoral election.

This year Gregory Verga will be running against Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken for the position of Mayor. 

Romeo Theken is a Gloucester native, and has been mayor since 2015. In her time as mayor, Romeo Theken has been involved in multiple community affairs and coalitions including the Fishermen’s wives association, Mother of Grace Club, the Open Door Pantry, Action Inc, and has volunteered for Gloucester Stage Company’s local theatre and multiple school programs. Romeo Theken has also been involved with the Rotary Club, Salvation Army, Gloucester’s Senior Centers and the Chamber of Commerce. Other than being Mayor, Romeo Theken enjoys cooking, baking, helping and interacting with people, and volunteering. 

Her opponent  Greg Verga is also a lifelong resident of Gloucester and is a licensed real estate agent. Verga has served on the school committee for 8 years and was also a city councillor for 6 years, representing West Gloucester and Magnolia for 4 years and representing the city-at-large for 2 years. Verga was involved with the Gloucester Fisherman Athletics Association, The West Parish School Building Committee, and West Parish School Site Based Management Team. Aside from politics, Verga enjoys time with family and playing for his musical project “Paulzon Fire.” He is also a published author of the children’s book “Fresh Eggs.”

As interesting as their resumes’ for mayor may be, this Gillnetter reporter wanted to find out what they plan to do with their time in office, and more specifically,where they stand on education. 

When asked what is the most important issue facing Gloucester Public Schools (GPS), Verga answered with the current issue of coronavirus (COVID-19).

 “The most important thing facing us at this moment is COVID, that pretty much sums up what we have to focus on,” Verga said. “We should be making sure everyone is wearing a mask and encouraging vaccinations to continue in-class, in-person, learning.” 

Verga also plans to “crack down on chronic absenteeism” and wants to fix the funding issues our schools are currently facing. “Funding is constantly an issue,” Verga said, “I want to make sure we can fund the schools to the best of our ability.”

Mayor Romeo Theken answered that social equality is one of GPS’ biggest issues. “I was talking to some of them, and they were right. We don’t have many diverse teachers.” Romeo Theken said. “And that’s important to them, it’s important to our students.”

“I’m also worried about keeping our school afloat since climate change is another issue.” Romeo-Theken said. “What good is it if we are trying to build a future that’s not going to exist?” She also said how important climate change is and wants to work and collaborate with students to help and find ways to prevent it. 

Romeo Theken didn’t touch on how different she is from her opponent, but she did however explain what she can offer if she continues being mayor. “If I’m telling students that we’re gonna help meet the future, let’s look at the future,” she said. 

She is proud of her “incredible” partnership with the state. 

 “I want to continue that partnership,” she said. “ I know that all the friends in communications and partnerships, not just in the Statehouse, but federally and across different companies and agencies that in two seconds when I make a phone call they’re there. I want to make sure that those connections remain.” 

Romeo Theken also said she wants to focus on youth mental health issues. “We are also on top of mental health issues, because a child may not be able to say something at home and we want to make sure that they do,” Romeo Theken said. 

She also hopes to see all of Gloucester’s students become successful with the help of extracurriculars.  “What about the after school classes that the kids can’t afford? How will we make sure that these children can succeed when there’s nobody helping them out? I want to make sure that’s okay.”

Romeo Theken also expressed her concern for LGBTQ+ students and how schools should be making them feel welcomed and accepted.

In comparison, Greg Verga plans to differentiate himself from current mayor Romeo Theken by focusing more on the future of Gloucester Schools.  “My grandson will be entering the public school system next September so for that reason I’m really focused on the next generation as opposed to what could happen next week,” Verga said. 

“Let the next mayor, or two mayors after me do the ribbon cutting,” Verga said. “But as of right now we have to start now to make sure there is something to celebrate in the future.”

Verga also plans to strengthen relationships with neighboring schools in order to expand our current vocational programs. “In order to add classes, we need to get the “OK” from North Shore Tech, they’re sort of the boss, we go through them first,” Verga said, “ That’s why it’s important to strengthen the relationship.” 

“The programs have been here since the 1930’s and I want to make sure that those four [machine shop, auto tech, carpentry and electrical tech] are set in stone.” Verga said. He also said how we should be thinking of adding more programs.

“I want to create a partnership with North Shore Tech so those 700 kids who don’t get to take one of their programs can come to GHS and try out one of ours to help them get through high school.”

Romeo Theken also wants to expand our vocational programs. “I have to find out what the students want,” she said. 

Both candidates say they want to appeal to the young voters in the city. 

Verga also said that voting for him “will give the city an honest mayor, and a mayor that they can most certainly trust”.  He also said he plans to make fighting global warming a priority. 

“It’s not about me, it’s about ‘we’. So, if we don’t start thinking about tomorrow, tomorrow is going to be yesterday,” Verga said.

Romeo Theken, on the other hand, encourages young voters to come and meet her and ask her their burning questions one on one. She also encourages them to “join the city’s boards and commissions” to further get their thoughts heard. She also plans to listen to the needs of student voters and young voters alike. 

“High school students are at that age when they want their individuality and to have their voice be heard but they’re afraid they’re going to get in trouble or someone is going to retaliate against them,” she said, “That’s what I need to know, and if you come to my office, there is no retaliation. My door is always open.” 

“A good mayor always not only listens, but gives the chance to lead.” Romeo Theken said. 

Election day is November 2nd, so don’t forget to get out there and vote.