NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday and challenger Dick Sullivan Jr. took the two top spots in yesterday’s preliminary mayoral election, advancing them to the city’s general election on Nov. 5.
The unofficial count was Holaday 1,496, City Councilor Sullivan 1,355 and City Councilor Greg Earls 1,302. Holaday secured 36 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Sullivan and 31 percent for Earls.
“I am very pleased with the result,” said Holaday, who is seeking her third term. “There were two city councilors in the race, and our whole team worked together well to prepare.
“There are many issues ahead and I hope the waterfront is not the only thing to be discussed. I would like to have as many as five debates to talk about the numerous issues that are important.”
The waterfront — specifically the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority’s plans to construct three buildings on its 4.2 acres, significantly expand the existing park and reduce the number of parking spaces — has become a centerpiece issue in the race for mayor. The NRA is an independent city board; however, the mayor has some influence over it — the mayor appoints four of its five members.
Holaday had advocated for limited commercial development on the NRA property, while both Earls and Sullivan oppose the NRA plan and advocated for an open waterfront.
Sullivan, who is completing his first term as an at-large councilor, said, “I am thrilled with this outcome, and I think my showing came from a lot of hard work.
“In addition to getting out and meeting the voters, I think the name Sullivan stands for something here. Many people know our family and what we stand for.”
Sullivan’s father, Richard Sullivan Sr., was mayor here from 1978-86 and his brother, Chris, was a mayor in 1997 after the resignation of Lisa Mead. Dick Sullivan Jr. is a retired firefighter who served on the School Committee prior to serving on the council.