NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 22, 2009

Tough talk at debate

Shanley, Holaday point to differences in leadership

NEWBURYPORT — Mayoral candidates Donna Holaday and James Shanley sought to show citizens last night why they should gain their vote at the polls Nov. 3, in a forum that covered a range of topics from building new wind turbines to making people pay for parking downtown.

Telling the crowd at the high school that the community is "at a crossroads" while weathering "very uncertain times," Shanley, who is president of the City Council, said the city has a choice to make — to keep debating the same issues or to break the cycle and move ahead.

"I intend to break the cycle of all talk and no action," he said. The city needs a leader and not just an administrator, Shanley said.

Holaday, an at-large city councilor, said she is the "superior candidate" in several areas. As chairwoman of the city's Budget and Finance Committee, she has the proper insight and knowledge to make the best decisions on the city's fiscal health, she said.

The debate was sponsored by The Daily News and the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce. Candidates were asked a series of questions relating to leadership, education, economic development, budget and waterfront/downtown parking. They also had the chance to ask each other questions.

The campaign thus far as been mostly cordial between the two City Council colleagues, who agree with one another on numerous issues. That was partly the tone last night, but they also sought to define clear splits in how they would run the city.

Holaday questioned Shanley's experience in handling budgets the size of the city's $50 million budget. Shanley is a self-described small business owner, who operates a small printing shop in Amesbury.

"That's why we have an auditor," Shanley said, adding a key leadership quality for a mayor is setting goals and delegating specific tasks to experts.

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