The primary election for state representative is behind us, and voters have decreed that the final ballot will feature Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron for the Democrats and Amesbury City Councilor James Kelcourse representing the Republicans.

The November election will also include candidates who are not with major parties: Newburyport City Councilor Ari Herzog, Newburyport businessman Joseph “Rama” Valianti and Amesbury financial consultant Steve Stanganelli.

The votes that party standard bearers generate likely will be affected by candidates from their own communities.

In Newburyport, Herzog has run successfully three times as an at-large candidate for council, and is reputed to be a strong online communicator and campaigner. Valianti appears to be making an energetic effort.

In Amesbury, Stanganelli is a white-collar professional who could develop a following.

One factor could be the turnout trend of Newburyport and Amesbury. As candidate Bob Lavoie said the night of his defeat, “The demographics are difficult. Newburyport voters come to the polls in much larger numbers than those in Amesbury.”

The seat of the 1st Essex District, made up of Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury, is an important one because numerous state-connected projects are in the works.

Newburyport is trying to shake free $5 million for an inter-modal structure (parking garage) and $3 million for a Crow Lane  closure fund. The funds have been earmarked in a large environmental bond bill, but the actual cash hasn’t reached the bank yet.

In Amesbury, city officials are seeking state  funds for projects in the downtown, and municipal leaders in Salisbury are angling for state financial support to enhance the downtown and stabilize the beach.

Because these projects are crucial to local communities, the departure of state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, is going to hurt. (He chose not to seek re-election.)

Costello, who will have served for 12 years, had risen to the chairmanship of the Joint Commission on Financial Services. His role was pivotal and he wielded considerable power.

As they used to say in Chicago political circles, he could get things done.

Local leaders say his help was valuable recently in securing state funds for the proposed parking garage, the Merrimac Street roundabout, Maudslay Pond, the rail trail, Whittier Bridge and the barrier to muffle sound there, and the two school projects, among other undertakings.

Whoever wins the seat in November will be following a very effective local legislator.

Those in northern Essex County are also likely to miss Congressman John Tierney. He was responsive to North Shore constituents and influential in securing $20 million in federal funds for the two jetties and close to $292 million for the bridge spanning the Merrimack.

“He helped us with many local projects,” said Mayor Donna Holaday. “He was accessible and cooperative, and his constituent service was excellent.”

Uppermost in the minds of all local leaders in the three 1st District communities is getting state funds released before the administration changes.


On a related matter, if Cameron or Herzog is elected, the City Council will once again be in the position of naming a councilor to fill the term.

When Kathleen O’Connor Ives left the after winning a seat in the state Senate, councilors chose former Councilor Steve Hutcheson to fill the post. He did not seek re-election.

Speaking of O’Connor Ives, she recently announced that her office is accepting applications for campaign internships leading up to the election in November.

High school and college students are eligible, as well as recent graduates with flexible schedules. More can be learned at


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


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

Policy Subcommittee of the Whole School Committee, 5:30 p.m., Room 118, high school.

School Committee, 7:30 p.m., room 118, high school.


Curriculum Subcommittee of the Whole School Committee, 6 p.m., administration offices, 70 Low St.

Conservation Commission, 6:45 p.m., City Hall.

Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., City Hall.

Waterfront Trust, 7 p.m., police conference center, 4 Green St.


Planning Board, 7 p.m., City Hall.


School Building Committee, 6:30 p.m., City Hall.

Affordable Housing Trust, 6:30 p.m., City Hall.

Parks Commission, 7 p.m., N/A.

Board of Health, 7 p.m., public library.

Historical Commission, 7:30 p.m., City Hall.


Master Plan Land Use and Development Subcommittee, 8:30 a.m., City Hall.


Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-961-3149 or

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