Kassandra Gove was 34 years old when she took office in January 2020 as Amesbury’s youngest and first female mayor. As a fifth-generation Amesbury resident who is passionate about her city, Gove had big plans for her first term that she describes as four “pillars” of service: communication and transparency, investing in infrastructure, a student-centered approach to education, and thoughtful economic development.
We all knew what happened two months later: The pandemic shut down the world and turned life as we know it on its head.
“I always say, you have to know going in that the buck stops with you. Anything can happen,” she says. “We got a global health crisis.”
But Gove didn’t let the pandemic derail her administration’s plans for the city. Instead, she believes those four pillars were crucial to their pandemic response.
“They helped guide us through our response and recovery,” she says. “There were certain projects that I was hoping we would make faster progress on. But I think, honestly, the pandemic accelerated my work in all four of those areas.”
For instance, it forced them to get more creative with online information exchange and tools, breaking down communication barriers between the city and its residents with resources like virtual meetings and a daily Facebook live with Gove that’s continued weekly.
“It was important to me as the mayor to be accessible and have an open door, and that was a virtual door the first two years in office,” she says.
Instead of seeking to attract new business, the administration focused on strengthening the ones they already had to ensure that their mom-and-pop shops stayed strong and resilient throughout the pandemic. They established a business economic adjustment team, quickly set up our outdoor dining, started a business-focused newsletter to talk about grants, and teamed with the city of Newburyport to provide grants to small business owners.
That renewed focus and energy has paid off.
“I’ve never seen our downtown full in my lifetime and it is full right now,” she says. “If their doors aren’t open, they are in a build-out phase…it is booming downtown.”
Now, as her second mayoral term begins, Gove has no plans of slowing down. Quite the opposite.
“I have always found myself in the right position at the right time for the right reasons,” she says. “That could not have been any more true for the last few years.”