Newburyport woman cites need for 'visionary leadership' in announcing run for state rep

Amber Hewett

NEWBURYPORT — Citing what she called “missed opportunities” for leadership by lawmakers, an offshore wind expert and Newburyport native said Friday she is running as a Democrat for the state representative seat held by a three-term incumbent.

Amber Hewett has been working for the National Wildlife Federation for seven years, with her focus now on clean-energy policy in the Northeast.

Contacted Friday after word of her Dec. 11 campaign launch circulated, Hewett said, “I focus specifically on offshore wind energy. The truly game-changing scale of this potential is the core of why I am running for office. We have these missed opportunities that we need visionary leadership to reach for. There is advocacy happening to bring these projects to life and there is some leadership at the Statehouse working as partners in that effort. I feel that there is farther than we can go and further that we can reach and the urgency of this moment really demands it.”

If she becomes the Democratic nominee, Hewett will likely face 1st Essex District state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, an Amesbury Republican, in a general election next November. Kelcourse confirmed Friday he intends to seek reelection.

Hewett started her career in the NWF’s Washington, D.C., offices after graduating from UMass-Amherst, where she studied political science and Earth systems. She said she then moved back to Newburyport where she continues her work as an offshore wind energy campaign manager.

“I work in state houses all on the Atlantic coast,” she said Friday. “As an offshore wind energy advocate, I am mostly in the Northeast and I spend quite a bit of time in the Massachusetts Statehouse.

“I think we need to elect leaders who take seriously the pressing issues of our time,” Hewett said. “I am of course referring to climate change but there are plenty of things such as the ability to afford housing, having a family touched by addiction and having the resources to address that as well as gun violence that are keeping folks up at night. I think we need to take seriously our part of the puzzle and our responsibility to do our part in solving these serious problems. There is more we can be doing to bring visionary leadership to the Statehouse and really make the most of the voice that we have on Beacon Hill.”

Hewett, who is 29, credited seeing the climate change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” while still a student at Newburyport High School in 2006 as an important moment in her life.

“The moment I learned about our climate crisis, I knew where my focus would be,” she said. “I study the climate crisis in college and left really fired up to be on the front lines of environmental policy.”

Hewett announced her candidacy online at www.amberhewett.com Friday and will host a special launch party and fundraiser at Newburyport’s Brick & Ash on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

“I’m starting early because I really want to build this campaign with the community,” she said. “There is a lot that I am bringing to this that is a personal passion and the passion that I have drawn from the folks I have spoken to. So I really want this campaign to look and feel like an expression of the district as a whole.”

Hewett said collaboration and relationship-building is a big part of her work already and running a good campaign is “not something you can rush.”

“I personally believe that I will only be successful in the kind of campaign and in being the kind of legislator that I would hope to be if I built deep, real relationships in every corner of this community,” she said. “Even having grown up here and having a family that has been here for generations, there are corners of the community that I am really looking forward to getting to know better and I personally believe it is essential to doing this well.”

The district includes Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury.

Hewett said she encourages people to come to the campaign launch, but added that they can contact her by email as well at www@amberhewett.com.

“I want people to get to know me and get to know my campaign and to find their voice in it right away,” she said.

Kelcourse said he welcomes Hewett’s candidacy and also announced his intention to run for a fourth term, with Gov. Charlie Baker is planning to attend his fundraiser at the Mission Oak Grill in Newburyport on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.

“I wish her well, she is a nice person, but I’m going to keep working hard for Newburyport, Salisbury and Amesbury on things like special education transportation funding, protecting the Merrimack River and most importantly, representing the people we serve the very best we can,” Kelcourse said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Editor's note: This story corrects the date of Rep. Jim Kelcourse's Dec. 10 fundraiser, which was reported incorrectly in an earlier version.

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