NEWBURYPORT— After her victory in the city election Tuesday, Mayor Donna Holaday reflected on her campaign and looked forward to her next four years in City Hall's corner office.
Newburyport residents re-elected Holaday to her fourth term after a head-to-head campaign against Ward 3 City Councilor Robert Cronin. Holaday won with 3,776 votes to 3,098 for Cronin.
Dr. Hazem Mahmoud, who was eliminated in a three-way contest in September's preliminary election, received 74 write-in votes and there were 52 blanks on the ballot, according to City Clerk Richard Jones.
Holaday, who finished behind Cronin on Sept. 19, called that election a "wake-up call," after which she rallied her supporters and kicked her campaign into a higher gear.
"We regrouped and upped our strategy, and all of a sudden volunteers started knocking on our door. We covered an awful lot of territory," Holaday said, adding that tactics used by Cronin posed obstacles for her campaign.
"I think that (Cronin) really tried to paint me in ways that I'm not, and that was hard," she said. "He made people believe that there are all kinds of problems with the schools, and that there were these secret meetings with developers happening in my office — and none of it's true."
Holaday also said "so much misinformation" was circulating on social media about projects, such as the planned parking garage, and that she talked face to face with voters to help them get a better understanding of city issues.
She acknowledged that the election left much of the city divided on the parking garage and other projects, and said she hopes to follow through on campaign promises to restore unity.
"We're going to continue to do what we're doing and to support a new council with new life, new blood and new ideas," Holaday said. "We will continue to follow the positive upbeat that I've had in my campaign."
In the future, Holaday said she plans to focus on fixing sidewalks and getting more money for parks and other neighborhood-related issues.
"Now, that we've completed some major, critical capital projects for the city, it's time to focus on the wards," Holaday said, highlighting her hopes to make Hale Street safer for walkers and bikers and helping support local seniors.
Holaday hopes to continue with the progress she has made since she was first elected in 2010.
"We need to focus on affordability and getting it right with Waterfront West, making sure that everyone is weighing in so that when the project is being developed, people feel like their voices have been heard," Holaday said. "I think people in general are very happy with what's going on with the city and a lot of people have told me that."
Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.