, Newburyport, MA

January 3, 2013

Eight vie for City Council

Council could fill O'Connor Ives seat Jan. 14

By Dyke Hendrickson
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Eight residents have put their name into the running to replace newly elected state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives on the City Council.

The candidates for the open seat are Paula Chambers, 31 Federal St.; Larry Giunta Jr., 139 Crow Lane; Steve Hutcheson, 76 Longfellow Drive; Larry McCavitt, 5 Madison St.; Ralph Orlando, 4 William Hall Drive; Robert Rothberg, 15 School St.; Warren Russo, 182 Northern Blvd.; and Mary Zinck, 61 Laurel Road.

The vacancy is for an at-large seat, which means the City Council will choose the new representative, who will serve until the next election in November. The choice does not involve approval by the mayor.

Two candidates, Hutcheson and McCavitt, are former city councilors.

Hutcheson, who served three two-year terms before being defeated in November 2011, said, “I want to finish up the term that I ran for last election. I ran last time to continue my work to help the schools be successful and to work on historic preservation of the city.

“I’m the only person that has held that office (councilor-at-large) and I finished as runner-up in the last election. I can’t think of any reason why someone else would be more suited for or deserve the open seat more than me.”

Hutcheson, an engineer, said it’s not just about him getting back on the council. “Many people have approached me and even my wife at work hoping that I would get back on the council again. I still have more to offer the community and people seem to want me back,” he said.

Russo said that his interest in the position revolves around his appreciation of public service.

“I will be retiring from the Navy reserve in a couple months, and will have more time for community service,” said Russo, who lives on Plum Island. “I have management skills, I was president of Rotary years ago and I think I might be able to contribute to the community.”

Russo, who holds an MBA in management, said he sent in his resume after seeing a notice in the newspaper. He said he is not “lobbying” for the position, but advanced his name so councilors would know of his interest.

Russo is also a correspondent for The Daily News.

None of the other candidates could be reached for comment.

The position pays $5,000 per year. Council members can avail themselves of a benefits package, but most councilors traditionally have relied on their benefits at work rather than buying into the city’s program.

In the fall of 2011, the election for five at-large positions on the City Council drew eight candidates. But the city’s six ward councilors ran unopposed.

The city’s new charter does not change the composition of the council. The mayor’s position, however, will change from a two-year term to a four-year term. Also, the mayor elected in the fall of 2013 will earn $98,000, compared to the current wage of $86,000.

City officials say that a decision on a new councilor might be announced at the next regular meeting of the City Council, which is Jan. 14.