When voters in Newburyport head to the polls Tuesday, they will find something that has never occurred before in a citywide election.
The office of mayor will not be on the ballot. Newburyport has expanded the mayor’s term to four years, and this is the first mid-term election since that change took place. Many political watchers feel that voter turnout will suffer, but we hope that the city’s citizens will see beyond that lack of a mayoral race and will focus due attention on the competitive races for City Council and School Committee.
These are two elected boards that play major roles in the direction of the city. Collectively their voices hold more sway than the mayor.
In the race for at-large City Council, Newburyport is fortunate to have a large field to choose from. Nine candidates are vying for five seats.
In this race, we endorse two incumbents, Ed Cameron and Barry Connell. Both have been outspoken leaders who have done yeoman work as council subcommittee chairmen. They can consistently be counted on to provide thoughtful dialogue on matters important to the city. Both have the right temperament for the job — passionate in their beliefs, but also willing to listen to other points of view in a respectful manner. Their institutional knowledge is also valued.
It is also good to see former Councilor Greg Earls taking another run for office, this time as a councilor-at-large. We think Earls would make an excellent addition to the council. Earls was an effective representative for Ward 2 for 12 years, a well-reasoned voice and in touch with his constituents. Easily approachable, Earls has a good handle on constituent service and a good ear on the street.
The council benefits when new blood with diverse backgrounds takes a seat at the table, and we have two candidates we are endorsing who fit this bill.
A relative newcomer to council politics is Joseph Devlin, currently the vice chairman of the city’s Licensing Commission. Devlin brings to the city a valuable commodity — he works as a lawyer representing retail and hospitality businesses, and frequently finds himself appearing before city and town boards on their behalf. As Newburyport enters a new stage in its waterfront development, we think Devlin’s experience will be beneficial. Devlin makes a good counterpart to Jared Eigerman, another city councilor whose law experience representing the “other side” has made him an invaluable addition to the council.
Lastly, this election holds the potential to have a situation that Newburyport has not seen in 36 years — no women on the council. We feel the council is at its strongest when there is a diversity of backgrounds and political philosophies represented. Three women are running for at-large seats; we feel that Lyndi Lanphear is best suited for the job.
Outspoken and intensely active in city politics and civic organizations, Lanphear is a student of City Hall and its politics. Her political leanings are conservative, a point of view that isn’t particularly well represented in City Hall. But as Newburyport moves past this current stage of completing its $150 million inbuilding projects and into the stage of paying for them, the importance of conservative voices on the council will grow.
In the contested race for Newburyport School Committee, four candidates are vying for three open seats. We think these are four very good candidates, each with a different strength and experience that will benefit the board. We are not endorsing in this race.