NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

July 29, 2013

Large field of candidates in fall election

Newburyport City Notebook
Dyke Hendrickson

---- — The final hour for taking out papers to run for municipal offices this fall has passed, and the races are overflowing.

Four have taken out papers for mayor, 10 have taken papers for five at-large seats, and 13 are running for six ward seats. Six have pulled papers for three open spots on the School Committee.

The key phrase here is “taken out papers.” It is possible that some will not return their nomination documents, so nothing is definite. The last day to submit nomination papers is Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Preliminary election is slated for Sept. 17, and the final election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Two years ago incumbent Donna Holaday ran unopposed for mayor. Now there could be three opponents, City Councilors Greg Earls and Dick Sullivan Jr. and newcomer Keith Kennedy.

A key issue will be the central waterfront: Where do the candidates stand on commercial development?

Holaday says she would permit some private construction; Earls is against private development and/or selling the land. More will be heard from Sullivan and Kennedy if debates are held.

The discussion could be central to citizen awareness as well as providing a forum for political posturing.

The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority owns 4.2 acres of land on the central waterfront. Most is dedicated to parking.

The NRA has worked with a Providence consultant and a state agency, MassDevelopment, to craft a plan that members say will generate revenue to build a larger and better park near the river.

Their vision is 70,000 square feet of privately built shops, restaurants and condominium units in three buildings.

Candidate debates, should they happen, could be important.

Public NRA meetings are invariably attended by older citizens. For some reason, the 40-and-under crowd has not been engaged. Candidate nights could bring out more residents to join the discussion.

A new corps of participants might also stimulate discussion on important issues.

Will the NRA sell or lease the land?

Also, how much environmental research will done to determine the status of the soil?

The NRA has contracted with an engineering firm to have borings taken on both east and west parking lots, once used as holding fields for coal delivery. Some waterfront veterans wonder about the scope of the inquiry. Will scientists be testing for arsenic, mercury and lead — or just lead?

The NRA ostensibly has absolute power to make decisions on the property and as a result, has had somewhat of a free pass as to its procedural moves.

But candidates asking questions and debating the waterfront issues could bring out useful information.

Regarding the election itself, the following is the final list of those who have taken out papers:

Mayor: Richard Sullivan Jr., Gregory Earls, Keith Kennedy and incumbent Donna Holaday.

At-large councilors (five will be elected): incumbent Barry Connell, Joanne McCarthy, Bruce Vogel, Bruce Menin, incumbent Edward Cameron, Meghan Kinsey, incumbent Ari Herzog, Laurel Allgrove, Sheila Mullins and Lyndi Lanphear.

Ward councilors: Ward 1, Michael Edward Ferrick, incumbent Alison Heartquist; Ward 2, Christopher Welch, Jared Eigerman, Paula Chambers; Ward 3, incumbent Robert Cronin, Leslie Eckholdt; Ward 4, incumbent Tom Jones, Sean McDonald, Charles Tontar; Ward 5, Larry Giunta Jr. and Sean Reardon; Ward 6, incumbent Tom O’Brien.

School Committee (three will be elected): Daniel Koen, Cheryl Sweeney, Steven Cole, Raymond Matthews, Michael Luekens and Sarah Hayden.

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On a separate topic, members of the Waterfront Trust as seeking names of applicants to take care of the grounds it owns along the river. The part-time position, to begin in the fall, pays about $8,500 per year, and those interested can leave letters of interest at City Hall in the name of Chairman Doug Locy.

Also, some Trust members are seeking suggestions as to what further uses can be made of Trust land along the river. Those with ideas can contact member Joe Brown at 978-463-0609.

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The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:

Today

Newburyport Housing Authority, 5 p.m., 25 Temple St.

River Valley Charter School trustees, 7 p.m., 2 Perry Way.

Tuesday

Moseley Woods Commission, 6:30 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.

Wednesday

Newburyport Retirement Board, 9:30 a.m., City Hall.

Thursday

Open Space Committee, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.

Historical Commission, 7:30 p.m., City Council chambers

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Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3226 or dhendrickson@newburyportnews.com.