Holaday says she won't seek another term as mayor

RYAN MCBRIDE/Staff photoNewburyport Mayor Donna Holaday waits to be filmed in Brown Square in September as part of an anti-racism video campaign. 

NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday said Tuesday she won’t seek another term in office adding that, after 12 years of leading the city, it will be time to “pass the baton” to someone else when her term expires in January 2022.

Holaday’s announcement comes a little more than a week after School Committee member Sean Reardon became the first candidate to announce a run for mayor. City Clerk Richard Jones said Monday no one had yet pulled nomination papers from his office.

Holaday said Reardon called her in December, saying he was planning to run for mayor but would not if she was going to seek another four-year term.

Holaday said she was surprised to learn Reardon was running, but called him “a supporter of mine.”

Reardon confirmed he called Holaday prior to his announcement but declined to comment on what they discussed.

“We had a productive conversation that will remain between the mayor and myself,” Reardon wrote in an email.

In a separate statement, Reardon thanked Holaday for her more than a decade of public service and highlighted some of the times the two worked together during his tenure on the School Committee and with the city Parks Department.

“The city has her to thank for many accomplishments that improved the quality of life for residents, such as the senior center (Newburyport Community Center) and new Bresnahan School, as well as increased funding for schools, parks, and many grants that benefited the city,” Reardon said in his statement. “I look forward to working with her this year on passing a school budget that takes our school district to the next level.”

Asked why she would step away from the office she has held since 2010, Holaday said she accomplished most of what was on her list of projects and felt the timing was right.

“I feel pretty good about the work my administration has done,” Holaday said. “I’m really proud of my department heads.”

While not pointing to the pandemic as a major reason for her decision, she did say the toll of leading the city during its worse health crisis in more than a century was a factor.

“It’s a 24/7 job and this year has been really hard, no doubt about it,” Holaday said, referring to 2020.

Holaday, 65, won her first term in office in 2009, succeeding John Moak to become the city’s 66th mayor. She won re-election twice, first defeating former local firefighter Dick Sullivan Jr. in 2013 and then-City Councilor Robert Cronin in 2017.

Rachel Forrest-Hay, a Johnson Street resident, wished Holaday well in whatever she decided to do.

“In my view, she has led the city well and has done a great job in getting many projects checked off the list,” Forrest-Hay said.

Holaday admitted there were a few projects she wished she could get over the finish line – among them building a new firehouse for the West End, finding a new home for Newburyport Youth Services and completing work along the central waterfront.

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

REFER: West Newbury selectman won't seek reelection, Page 2.

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