BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Though Kathleen O’Connor Ives likely won’t be leaving her seat on the City Council until early January, it appears that former Councilor Steven Hutcheson is a favorite to succeed her.
Though defeated in his 2011 bid for re-election, Hutcheson was the next-highest vote-getter for at-large councilor behind the five candidates who won seats. Councilors appear to be leaning toward experience.
“All roads are leading to Steve Hutcheson right now,” said City Councilor Allison Heartquist yesterday. “We want to use common sense and we are looking for experience.
“The term is only a year, and it would take time for a newcomer to learn the job. Steve has already served.”
Hutcheson was seeking his fourth term when he was defeated. He polled 1,622 votes to come in sixth, behind the fifth-place finisher, Dick Sullivan Jr., who had 1,699.
Councilor Bob Cronin said, “We’re going to look at those who apply, but it can be useful to review those who have run before and know something about the job.”
O’Connor Ives, who has been elected to serve in the state Senate, said she will be a full-time senator, and thus will leave the council in early January.
Her replacement will be named by the council to serve out the term, which will be about one year.
Hutcheson, Larry Giunta and Michael Early were others who ran — and were defeated — in the 2011 election for five at-large seats.
Hutcheson, a 46-year-old engineer, has said he is interested in returning to the council and has contacted several municipal leaders about the possibility. He was not available for comment yesterday.
But the naming of Hutcheson is not a certainty. Sullivan said that several residents have approached him about the position, including Jamie Gagnon and Ralph Orlando.
He said he is aware of the “candidacy” of Hutcheson.
“I’d consider anybody who comes forward with an interest,” Sullivan said.
City Council President Tom O’Brien was more circumspect. He said, “The City Council is not considering anyone since Katy has not sent in her resignation. We will consider anyone who puts in a request to be considered after she resigns.”