Councilor Cronin to run for mayor

Robert J. Cronin is running for Newburyport mayor.

NEWBURYPORT – Ward 3 City Councilor Robert Cronin announced his candidacy for mayor Monday, saying he will bridge what he calls a communication gap between City Hall and city residents.

Cronin said his plans include implementing “best budget” practices to cut back on spending, while prioritizing the city’s needs and engaging members of the community to allow for greater transparency in city government.

“My vision for Newburyport is a more fiscally responsible administration with best budget practices and strong project oversight, which is something we have been lacking,” he said.

Cronin will be running for the office against Mayor Donna Holaday in the Nov. 7 election.

Two other Newburyport residents, Dr. Hazem Mahmoud of 52A Ferry Road and Clete Kijek of 12 Walnut St., have also pulled papers to run for mayor. Candidates must collect 50 signatures of registered voters and submit them by Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.

Cronin, a 33-year veteran of the police force, has held a seat on the City Council since 2010.

While in office, he sponsored an ordinance to fund repairs of sidewalks without using property tax money. He also supported Newburyport’s pursuit of bonds for small businesses to encourage responsible growth and development in the city. Cronin also serves as the chairman of the Public Safety and City Council Rules committees and is a member of the Budget & Finance Committee.

When asked about his disagreements with Holaday, Cronin said he believes she has overspent on many projects throughout Newburyport.

“I think that she has gone to the well too many times for projects,” Cronin said. “When you look at them all as a package, we’re outspending our resources.”

Cronin said he would take more time to examine individual projects, prioritizing the city’s “true needs.”

“We are taking snapshots, but we’re not taking a strong, holistic look at various projects in the city and how they improve quality of life,” Cronin said.

He said he will focus on investing in city services and an economic development plan that respects quality of life for families and economic realities for residents while maintaining the historic integrity of Newburyport’s neighborhoods.

“We have to keep Newburyport alive and well,” Cronin said. “It’s a historic city and we have to maintain its character, but we can still have intelligent growth.”

Specific issues that Cronin said he plans to address include parking, traffic and infrastructure needs. He also said school-related concerns would be a priority, and he mentioned plans to consider later start times for local students.

“There is strong evidence that a later start time would be beneficial to students,” Cronin said. “We have to bring it to the table, make hard decisions and move forward.”

He also said he plans to focus attention on Newburyport’s senior citizens, whom he said have been neglected by the city during previous times of decision-making.

“We can protect our seniors with the projects we undertake and don’t undertake,” Cronin said. “I want to offer them a voice and seat at the table to protect their lifelong interests.”

The preliminary election will be held Sept. 19, with the biennial municipal election set for Nov. 7.

Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall for the Daily News. He can be reached on Twitter @iamjackshea, via email at jshea@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3154.

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