Holaday said that she has generated close to $50 million “not on taxpayers’ backs” to launch two new school projects, a senior recreation center and other improvements. The mayor added that she has revamped the administration at City Hall, and now her team is in the midst of implementing infrastructure projects worth close to $100 million.
Sullivan said he would work to bring new jobs to the industrial-business park, and said he would cooperate with local business executives to implement their ideas on what is needed. He said roads, sidewalks and lighting should be improved at the park.
Holaday stated that several business committees are working to revitalize the park. She said that companies including Rochester Electronics have expanded, and her team is working with potential clients to enter the park in the future.
The candidates agreed that highest priority must be given to the school system. Both said that programs like foreign languages should be re-introduced to youngsters at an early age.
Though Sullivan criticized the mayor for what he said were shortcomings, including the timing of renovation of the Green Street parking lot and her circumspection about water and sewer problems on Plum Island, the tone of their meeting was more benign than many expected. Sullivan at various times cracked jokes and was conversational with the audience. Holaday was poised, and appeared to be determined to stick with the facts and present examples of her record during her four years as mayor.
The event, sponsored by the The Daily News and the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry and broadcast over WNPB radio and Port-TV, was scheduled to last another half-hour when it came to a close. The sponsors had set 90 minutes to allow for 12 questions, plus an opportunity for the candidates to ask one another a question, and three-minute opening and closing statements.