McCauley chosen for Port council seat 

JACK SHEA/Staff photoJames McCauley is sworn in as a new city councilor Monday by City Clerk Richard Jones after he was appointed to serve out the remainder of former at-large Councilor Gregory Earls’ term. 

NEWBURYPORT — The City Council appointed James McCauley on Monday to temporarily fill a vacant councilor at-large seat previously held by Gregory Earls.

In the second of two rounds of voting, the council voted 6-4 to select McCauley to serve the remainder of Earls’ term, which ends Dec. 31. Robert Cronin received four votes while four other candidates did not receive any.

Supporting McCauley in the final vote were Councilors Bruce Vogel, Jared Eigerman, Afroz Kahn, Heather Shand, Charles Tontar and Barry Connell. Cronin’s votes came from Councilors Joseph Devlin, Larry Giunta, Tom O’Brien and Sharif Zeid.

During the first round of voting, Cronin received five votes, McCauley picked up three and Edward Cameron received two votes.

Notably, Jared Eigerman voted for Cronin at first but switched his vote to McCauley during the final round, a move he said was made to break a stalemate on the council.

"It was clear to me that my candidate could not get six votes, so I went to a compromise candidate," Eigerman said Tuesday. "I wanted Cronin, I couldn't get him. We were deadlocked."

Once the vote was finished, McCauley was sworn in by City Clerk Richard Jones and immediately took his seat with the rest of the council, serving for the remainder of the meeting.

The at-large seat will be filled in the municipal election Nov. 5 and the new councilor takes office in January.

Earls served on the council for 16 years before stepping down last month because he is moving to North Hampton, New Hampshire.

The other candidates in the running for Earls' seat were Robert Germinara, Hazem Mahmoud and Thomas Salemi.

McCauley, a 26-year city resident with a self-described long-standing interest in politics, is running unopposed in November for the Ward 5 council seat now held by Giunta.

On Friday, McCauley said he hoped filling Earls’ shoes for the rest of the year would give him an early start on council business.

“I opted to put my name in with the idea that I could start doing the groundwork for some of the issues we’re going to be dealing with in 2020,” McCauley said. “There’s a range of issues, and they’re all important to the city. Taking the first steps, if they’re done correctly, helps frame the discussion.”

Cronin served as Ward 3 councilor for eight years and gave up his seat to run for mayor in the 2017 municipal election, which he lost to incumbent Donna Holaday.

Cronin has said while he chose not to seek a permanent seat on the council this year, he wanted to rejoin the council for a brief period to help it move forward while the election plays out.

Cameron served on the City Council for 10 years, but stepped down in 2017 only to re-enter City Hall as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, on which he still serves.

Germinara has spent years regularly attending meetings for various city departments and is vying for one of five full-time councilor at-large seats in the November election. He also ran for an at-large seat in the 2017 municipal election.

Mahmoud ran for mayor in 2017 but finished third in the final vote. Since the loss, Mahmoud said he has been unhappy with city government decisions, including budget issues and the use of the parking garage as a replacement for parking along the waterfront.

Salemi served on the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority from 2012 to 2017 and as its chair from 2014 to 2017.

Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newbury­port City Hall. He can be reached via email at jshea@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.

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