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July 29, 2013

Large field of candidates in fall election

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.

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