, Newburyport, MA

March 11, 2013

Amesbury group plans to contest every council race

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — This fall’s election season is shaping up to be an exciting one as a burgeoning opposition party seeking to challenge the status quo in Amesbury begins to emerge.

Over the past few months, a group of residents who are unhappy with the pattern of taxes and spending in Amesbury began meeting to discuss their ideas, policies and potential election strategies to bring about meaningful change.

Mike Buetow, who has been serving as the head of the developing opposition party, indicated that every City Council race would be contested this fall, assuming all of the incumbents decide to run for re-election.

“I’ve had folks in every district and a few at-large people say that they plan to pull papers,” Buetow said. “It’s fair to say that every race will be contested.”

Buetow, who has been hosting the meetings at his 10 Cabot Court residence, did not specify who would be running in which districts, saying he would prefer to let those individuals announce their own candidacy when the time is right. He did say that he is not planning on running for office himself and is instead acting as more of a coordinator.

The opposition group has largely kept their plans quiet so far, but chatter of their activity occasionally surfaces on the “Citizens for Lower Taxes in Amesbury” Facebook group. An email from Buetow listing a number of agreed-upon goals was also forwarded to members of the City Council and obtained by The Daily News back in January.

Among the group’s priorities listed by Buetow was a desire to focus on developing areas like the Golden Triangle between the I-95 and I-495 convergence before spending more money on projects like the Lower Millyard, along with bringing Amesbury’s spending more in line with similar sized communities.

Buetow also pointed out in the email that the current Amesbury City Council has never denied a request for more funding and the cost of running the City of Amesbury has risen by 25 percent in the past eight years.

Reached for comment yesterday, Buetow said his group isn’t satisfied with the way things have gone in Amesbury over the past few years, but would also prefer to focus on the challenges that face Amesbury in the future rather than rehashing the battles of the past.

“What we’re concerned about is what happens five months or five years down the road,” Buetow said. “We’re looking at is ensuring that whatever the goal is, we have well-thought-out plans in place to execute those goals.”

Prospective candidates can begin pulling nomination papers on May 9, and so far Council Vice President Robert Gilday, District 4 Councilor Bob Lavoie and Councilor at-large James Kelcourse have all announced their intentions to run for re-election, along with newcomer Eric Bezanson, who will seek an at-large seat on the council.

Councilor President Anne Ferguson, District 2 Councilor Christian Scorzoni, District 5 Councilor Joseph McMilleon and at-large Councilor Allen Neale are all still undecided, although Neale said it was “highly likely” he would run again. So far District 3 Councilor Donna McClure and District 6 Councilor Derek Kimball have not spoken publicly about their future plans.