NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 1, 2013

O'Brien pledges to continue to vote for residents' views

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — As part of our coverage of the Nov. 5 election, The Daily News is providing profiles of residents running for City Council.

Today’s final profile is on Thomas F. O’Brien, who is running unopposed in Ward 6.

O’Brien, who is the president of the council, is the only ward councilor who is unopposed this year. In 2011, all six ward positions were uncontested.

THOMAS F. O’BRIEN

Age: 67

Address: 11 Moseley Ave.

Family: Wife, Linda; daughter, Katie; grandson, Tommy

Occupation: Retired from Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission after 38 years as a supervisor

Education: B.A. in history, UMass Amherst; M.Ed in rehabilitation counseling, Springfield College.

Reason for running: O’Brien noted that he has spent 16 years on the council, including eight years as the president. He has also served on the municipal Water Board and he has been a member of the Housing Authority since 1995. He is presently a volunteer at the Bresnahan School.

O’Brien said, “I am running for another term for the pleasure of serving the people of Ward 6 and to try to represent their views, whether it is on the waterfront, garage, parking, historic district or traffic. I feel that the people’s views in Ward 6 are sometimes different from people in other wards on certain issues, and I will continue to vote for their views.

“It has been a pleasure to help residents with tree issues, traffic signs, etc. I had advocated for years for the stop sign at Ferry Road and Spofford and this has worked well. The roundabout was another issue that I advocated for due to the speeding of cars coming over the bridge and on Merrimac Street. I did not agree with the cobblestones and they have been removed and the new design will make it easier for trucks to come through the roundabout. I think that the Department of Public Services has a rubber plow and this will make it easier for them in the snow in the winter months.”

Position on the central waterfront: “My opinion since Day 1 has been no private buildings on the waterfront,” O’Brien said. “I am one of the few on the council who has lived here all of my life, and the waterfront belongs to the residents, and I believe they like to see the open waterfront. Let’s expand the open space. I would like to see an upgrade to the restrooms and information center and have additional area for showers for the boaters who come to Newburyport, as I feel they bring a lot of income to the city and we should provide them with this type of service.”

What can be done to improve the schools? “It has been frustrating at times that the council has no say on the school budget except to pass or cut. I advocated and voted for the new Bresnahan School, Nock-Molin upgrades and the Senior Center. The mayor and School Committee have started to put some foreign language back into the schools and hopefully we will be able to offer it at all levels in the future,” O’Brien said.

“I feel that the city has dedicated teachers at all levels for our students, but the leadership at the higher level with turnovers every few years has been a problem. Hopefully with Susan Viccaro on board as superintendent, she will advocate for technology, foreign language and bring Newburyport back to a high standing.”

What will be your special interest next term?: “I have advocated for the roundabout, and sound barriers for Laurel Road with the mayor and no heavy trucks on Turkey Hill Road,” O’Brien said. “I will push to improve two more areas in my ward that are a concern: Three Roads at High, Moseley and Ferry, and at Ferry and Spofford. I will also advocate for some type of walkway or path from Ferry Road to Pine Hill Road to the state park. I will continue to work to help areas with traffic concerns such as Turkey Hill Road. I will advocate for more, and improved, sidewalks.”