NEWBURYPORT — What if they gave an election kick-off party and no one campaigned for office?
Mayor Donna Holaday has announced that she is organizing an election event on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Elks social center on Low Street. Entertainment will be provided by Beatlejuice.
Holaday has no opponent in the November election nor do the six city councilors who represent districts. Competition does exist for the five at-large council seats and for three seats on the School Committee.
"Those who are running for office are invited, and city officials like those on the City Council, school board are also getting invitations," said Holaday. "The public, of course, is invited."
Julie Godtfredsen, the mayor's nominal campaign manager, said the event is free but there will be a donation. Costs are being covered by the mayor's campaign fund.
She said that event will provide voters the opportunity to meet the (few) candidates and discuss municipal issues.
One issue that visitors can discuss is their opportunity to vote on changes in the City Charter, as recommended by a nine-member commission.
But in general, it is a municipal election light on widespread competition. For the first time since the early '80s, for instance, the sitting mayor has no opponent.
Among the few contested races in November are in the city councilor at-large race, which has eight candidates vying for five seats, and the School Committee election, which has four candidates vying for three seats.
Ward 1 Councilor Allison Heartquist will run unopposed, as will Ward 2 Councilor Greg Earls, Ward 3 Councilor Bob Cronin, Ward 5 Councilor Brian Derrivan, Ward 6 Councilor Tom O'Brien and incumbent at-large Councilor Tom Jones for the Ward 4 seat.
Eight candidates for the five at-large seats include incumbent Ward 4 Councilor Ed Cameron, incumbent at-large Councilors Kathleen O'Connor Ives, Steven Hutcheson, Barry Connell and Ari Herzog, plus three challengers in former School Committee member and retired firefighter Dick Sullivan Jr.; Michael Early, owner of the London Livery taxicab company; and Larry Giunta, founder of the local Republican Committee.
In the School Committee race, incumbents Bruce Menin and Nick deKanter will be seeking re-election and will face former at-large City Councilor Audrey McCarthy and parent Peter McClure for three available seats.
On another matter, Holaday said that the state organization of mayors will gather in Newburyport on Sept. 28, with initial meetings scheduled for the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts. She said that 40 to 50 mayors and/or aides are expected. There are 42 mayors in Massachusetts.