Start Low and Go Slow

I’ve really been thinking (obviously) about the new Newburyport City Council 2008. What a surprise. And mulling over the “new” state of affairs.

And one of the things that concerns me is the expectation that this new council could, “get a lot accomplished” and “fasten your seat belts.” (Newburyport Daily News, November 12, 2007)

They might.

But my guess would be that whatever the new Newburyport City Council hopes to achieve in the years 2008-2009, it could be a good idea to divide those expectations not just half, but probably by 6 or 8, and if that much actually could be accomplished, well, my, a lot would have been achieved.

From talking to folks the last couple of weeks, and looking back at politics while I’ve been in Newburyport, MA, it always seems that it would be, 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.

I know that with geriatric patients (no, I’m not a geriatric patient, at least, I hope I get to be a geriatric patient one day, but there may be a ways to go) there is a great phrase, “Start low and go slow.”

So, even with great possibilities ahead, my hope would be that the upcoming Newburyport City Council 2008, would take a deep breath and “start low and go slow.”

Mary Eaton

Emotional Response to Political Setbacks

What happens when politically one has one heart’s set on something and things just do not go the way one hoped?

In political life, this happens constantly.

(And this one of those lovely times when it’s much easier to be a blogger and chit chat, rather than to be in the actual political ring. How lovely.)

My own “mild” experience with something like this, is the “infamous” bike lanes.

Right from my very first High Street meeting, January 1999, which was chaired by Newburyport City Councilor Erford Fowler and then Newburyport City Councilor John Norris, “traffic calming” instead of “traffic lights” was a major theme.

And I remember so clearly, Councilor Fowler turning to me and saying, “You gotta learn about this.” We were all excited. Here was a “solution” to the traffic light thing not happening on High Street.

Good grief, be careful what you wish for, because, by golly, I learned all about “traffic calming.” Who knew.

And ever since 1999 bike lanes were a major component at almost every meeting on the subject I ever went to, a solution to slowing down traffic, without traffic lights on High Street. Bike lanes repeatedly, always got the big “thumbs-up”.

Ah, but when the bike lanes actually started to get implemented, I think it was sometime in 2004, all hell broke loose.

And for me it was, “Say what? No, no one threaten to harm your grandmother, and the bike lanes are what everyone actually asked for.”

And recently, I was told that when being shown houses in Newburyport, MA, realtors were apologizing for the “bike lanes”. So, I’m certainly surmising that the bike lane thing still holds the same highly-charged, visceral response now, as when they first went down however many years ago that may have been.

So what were the choices. Become bitter and angry that things didn’t go the way I thought they would. Ask myself “how important is it?” And actually, bike lanes really are not that important. Let the whole thing go and move on to whatever might be next (like becoming a blogger, good grief).

And folks in the political world have this dynamic happen to them all the time, on different levels of importance.

And the folks that I’ve seen who have managed to transcend the vagaries of the political process, are those who have not become bitter and angry over whatever. Have asked themselves some version of, “how important is it” (and rarely is it that important). Have a sense of humor and let whatever it may be go, and move onto the next thing, whatever the next thing would be.

And as we see this new Newburyport City Council 2008 take shape, the “how important is it?” thing, and the “letting it go” thing, with a hefty dollop of humor, could be crucial to how effective this new Newburyport City Council could be.

If frustration, anger and bitterness take over, well, we’ll just have to kiss political achievement goodbye.

But if there is a sense of humor, working together (unity, what a thought, my) and realizing that some things would end up working Ok, and some things would have different levels of accomplishment, it is possible that things could actually have a chance of working out alright.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Rumblings of a Political Backlash

Election 2007. I feel the rumblings of a backlash already in progress. Sorry folks–a reaction to the new Newburyport City Council that will be sworn in January 2008.

I think if the current Newburyport City Council had been re-elected, I don’t think I would be feeling the rumblings of a backlash.

And some that I’ve talked to, feel that the rumblings are in part to Tom O’Brien stepping down as the President of the Newburyport City Council and James Shanley seeking to be the new president and, it is my understanding, succeeding.

James Shanley, in my book, is a centrist, and a very thoughtful man. Councilor Shanley has always struck me as the sort of fellow who likes efficiency, and likes to get things done.

When Mayor Lisa Mead took office for the first time in the 1990’s, as I remember it, she wanted to bring what she felt would be a more professional approach towards running the city of Newburyport, MA. Ms Mead, as I recall, was no-nonsense and efficient. This, in my recollection, was a markedly different stylistic approach to her predecessor, Peter Matthews, who could be found in the relaxed atmosphere of Angies, downtown on Pleasant Street, meeting and talking with his constituents.

Let’s just say, as I recall, that Ms Meads no-nonsense, efficient approach was not met with open arms.

As James Shanely takes over the presidency of the Newburyport City Council, it would be my hope that he would do so with the utmost sensitivity and tact. And I think that this could well turn out to be a most difficult job.

The fact that Erford Fowler, after 14 years, would no longer be on the Newburyport City Council floor, is hugely symbolic. I think it has always been believed that Councilor Fowler would be “unshakable.” And I think the fact that he was “shakable” has caused some major unease.

And I do believe that (no matter how smart or how personable and politically savvy she may be) someone, a woman no less, who has lived here “only” 6 months, beat out all sorts of folks with Newburyport political pedigrees, and would sit on the Newburyport City Council floor, has also, on some conscious or unconscious level, caused some major unease.

And the fact that Donna Holaday “is back,” and received more votes as Newburyport City Councilor at Large, than Mayor John Moak did as mayor, wittingly or unwittingly, could set up a dynamic that also, in my book, could cause some major agitation.

If I were the Newburyport City Council 2008-2009, I would take nothing for granted. Act with humility and grace, and bend over backwards to make absolutely sure, that to the best of their ability, all constituencies and residents of Newburyport, MA are heard, understood, appreciated and appropriately represented.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport Politics, Us versus Them

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the phrase lately, “We don’t have to worry anymore. There’s more of us than there is of them.”

Oy veh. Don’t even go there. Don’t be so sure.

And, I can’t tell you how often over the years, I’ve heard that exact same phrase, and believe me, it wasn’t true then, and I’d give it a real good guess, that it probably might not be true now.

We are talking here about different “voting blocks” within the city. And the fact that we now have a “progressive” Newburyport City Council, as of January 2008.

Start asking for money, and you will see “them” rise up in force.

And if one takes a look at the numbers of the recent November 2007 election, they tell a tale.

Ed Cameron ran one heck of a clean, thoughtful, long, hard, slogging, “door to door” campaign. Plus he’s is an incredibly thoughtful and I believe, ethical and trustworthy human being. But that race was very close. By no means a “landslide.”

And I think a couple of candidates rode on his coattails, not visa versa. Both Jim Stiles and Kathleen Ives did remarkably well in a “conservative” ward (Ward 4).

Ward 5, a “conservative” ward, was won, against an incumbent, by a “conservative” candidate.

And Al Lavender, Mary Carrier, Bob Kelleher, William Deans (and I really don’t know whether or not to throw in Gary Roberts in here or not) split a large voting block. If you add all those numbers together, those are a whole lot of votes, enough for a couple of those candidates to have won.

Don’t forget the weather on voting day, November 2007. It stunk. If the choice would be between voting, or not getting pneumonia, my guess is, that the “health thing” could have won out.

And I’ve seen more damage over the years with the thought process of “there’s more of us than there is of them.”

It speaks of an adversarial approach to running our municipal government. An “us versus them” mentality. “Them” being the “enemy.” A possible “polarizing” approach.

“They” are still very much out there. “They” are also part of our community and part of our lives. And “their” concerns, very much need to be respected, if we as a community hope to get constructive and thoughtful things accomplished.

Is a “backlash” possible? In my book, you bet a backlash is hugely possible. It all depends on the attitude and how the more “progressive” candidates conduct themselves during the next 2 years.

If there is respect, maturity, consideration for different points of view, we could have had an excellent government, one worthy of reelection.

If there is even a subtle attitude of “excluding the enemy,” well then, my guess would be that election 2009 could be mighty interesting.

Mary Eaton

Municipal Jobs Well Done

It must have been about 4 or 5 years ago during one of the winters from Hell that we had, I called the DPW (Department of Public Works) and asked if there could be anyway that they could send a plow to re-plow our small street.

In a very short time a big plow appeared and did one heck of a spectacular job.

I wrote the DPW a thank you note, saying how much I appreciated their extra care and consideration.

When I talked to whoever at the then DPW a little bit later, they said, I believe, that my “thank you” note was the only one that they had ever received, and that they put it up on the bulletin board as a morale booster for the folks that had been working so hard.


Apparently, Newburyport city employees often do not get thanked for a job well done.

And recently I got a very kind email from our Newburyport City Clerk, Richard Jones, thanking me for my “kind words” about the excellent job that the Newburyport City Clerk’s office did on election night, that was briefly mentioned on the Newburyport Blog. (See earlier entry.)

To be able to witness that process unfold was an incredibly moving and inspiring experience for me. It was a privilege for me to watch “Democracy” in action on election night at Newburyport City Hall.

That night, I couldn’t help thinking back to a national election that had gotten pretty muddled over election stuff. And I thought that we in Newburyport, MA, were so lucky to have such a professional and thoughtful approach by the Newburyport City Clerk’s office, that I wanted the readers of the Newburyport Blog to know just how luck we are.

And I know I’m not going to be real popular with this next thought. But there have been a lot of folks who are upset with the Newburyport City Unions, that they did not embrace the “new” health insurance plan (right away) and thereby saving the City of Newburyport, MA some major dough.

My take on the salaries of the folks that work for Newburyport, MA, is that with a few exceptions, they are pretty low, but the benefits have been good.

And that it is my understanding (and I can’t site the exact source for this one) that it is getting harder and harder to get folks (especially younger folks) to work on a municipal level.

And it takes a lot of money just to live to get by these days.

And as a city, I think we need to take a long look to make sure people might be inspired to work for municipalities. And appreciation for a job well done, in my book, always seems to go a long way.

Mary Eaton

The Frogs and Possible Political Obsoleteness

The frogs are perturbed with me.

They claim that I’ve been ignoring them. And a picture of anyone of them has not been seen on the Newburyport Blog, since July of 2007.


Well, 2 things.

And I hate to break it to the frogs, but apparently for some readers of the Newburyport Blog, they (the frogs) are not so popular. In fact, I was told by one visitor that they actually refuse to read any entry with pictures of “frogs” in them.


I think this could be very upsetting for George Cushing, Georgiana Tadpole and the twins .

George Cushing and Georgiana Tadpole
being “pissed” at this bit of news.

And I’ve been mulling over what to do. But forget about “frog naysayers,” I love my frogs.

And the 2nd thing, quite frankly, is that I thought the November election 2007 was pretty serious stuff. And although George Cushing, from Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, is the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog, I thought it might be best if green amphibians might not make political commentary during something so important.

So now that the Newburyport election 2007 is over, maybe I could lighten up a little bit. And George and Georgiana and the Twins could stop being so pissed at moi.

Mary Eaton

The Mother’s Club and a New Dichotomy

I remember when I first found the Mother’s Club website and took a look at the picture of the “Board.”

The fact that the Mother’s Club would have a “Board” at all, says something. It speaks of sophistication, education and organization. It also says that these could not be “old timers.” Because the families of “old timers” are so interconnected, that they would not need a “Board” to organize around “mother stuff.”

I remember looking at the photograph of the “large” group of the “Board,” 24 young women, and thinking to myself, that they looked well-educated, energetic, had money (by Newburyport standards).

I know how hard it is to organize stuff. And to have this level of co-operation and organization, in Newburyport, MA, is quite something.

To me, and this is just my take, for the most part it appears that the Mother’s Club is comprised, for the most part, of young “newcomers” who would have bought houses in the recent housing boom since the year 2000.

And at 500 families strong, they have built a community within this community. And I thought to myself, keep an eye on these folks–potential political force.

And yup, they most certainly are.

And the fact that the Mother’s Club held a “Newburyport Candidate Forum” for the November election 2007, that quite frankly, for a candidate who was serious about winning, “courting” this voter block, was a definite “must attend.” This says volumes about the political clout that this group of 500 young families plus has achieved.

And this could be part of the tectonic shift. When I moved here 25+ years ago, there was never a thought about organically forming an organization like this one. The emphasis was on just living here and fitting into the community.

The housing market has been so expensive since the year 2000 or so, that the young families, single folks and couples who have moved, here have to have some money, and probably some very sophisticated jobs, to be able to afford to live here.

And my take is that they would have a level of education and work experience that is atypical for Newburyport, MA.

And the folks that have moved here, with money (by Newburyport standards), education (we are not talking blue-collar worker here anymore) and sophistication, are changing how politics would be done in Newburyport, MA.

They have and are becoming involved in Newburyport, MA, politically and in other ways.

And as a “weird old newbie” this is my promise to myself. These folks love it here and aren’t going away. And I’m going to try and meet as many of these folks as I possibly can. So far, I’ve tried to meet folks with absolutely no preconceived ideas, and the folks that I have met, and that I have gotten to know, I like enormously.

Mary Eaton

A Political, Newburyport Loss

I’ve been talking to all sorts of folks about the “mystery” to me of why Gary Roberts was not re-elected to the Newburyport City Council.

Let me say that during the last almost 2 years, Gary Roberts has been one of the kindest Newburyport Councilors to the Newburyport Blog.

Gary Roberts often calls to see if I’m doing Ok, because he has a concept of how difficult it is to be the “editor” of the Newburyport Blog.

I can’t tell you how much this has meant to me. It has meant the world to me.

And I have often called Gary Roberts for a “reality check.” He has always been straight forward and to the point, and I always feel much more calm and much more centered (and believe me, it hasn’t always been what I’ve wanted to hear).

And this is what it seems to me. The more conservative folks voted for Al Lavender and Mary Carrier, along with Steve Hutcheson, Robert Kelleher and William Deans.

For the more progressive folks, it appears that Tom Jones and Steve Hutcheson would be perceived to be more “liberal,” along with Donna Holaday, Barry Connell and Kathleen Ives.

And I think that there was a little bit of the “shooting the messenger” thing here as well. Gary Roberts has always been real upfront about, guess what folks, you think there’s money, well I gotta tell you, you’re wrong, there is no money.

Mr. Roberts seems to feel that it might not be a good idea to spend money on stuff, if the money would not be there.

And it appears that some folks sometimes seemed puzzled about Gary Roberts’ passion about the fact that it could be a good idea to try and stay within the city’s actual budget.

In a credit-card world, from much that I read, this could possibly be perceived as somewhat of a “quaint” sort notion. One that might not seem overly popular with our debt-ridden, larger society. Instant gratification, you can have it now. (Disclaimer: And, no, this would not apply to all people.)

And the stuff about the money not being there, he’s right. But that’s another entry altogether.

Mary Eaton

Election Night, Newburyport, MA

Visiting Newburyport City Hall on election night.

This was my first “full” election night as the “editor” of the Newburyport Blog.

I’d been at Newburyport City Hall for the Spring Election for the Override for Newburyport Schools, and the Primary Election for Mayor, in September. But this was my first “big” one.

Actually, the other two were more “fun” (if having major stuff at stake could be considered in the “fun” category). More relaxed, more kidding around, more people there.

Folks waited in the Newburyport City Council Chambers for the Newburyport City Clerk to come out and read the election results.

Except for Bruce Menin (School Committee) and Al Lavender (Mayor) there were no candidates there. I asked Audrey McCarthy (who is stepping down as Newburyport City Councilor at Large in January 2008) where everybody was.

Audrey told me that most candidates like to wait somewhere else, so if they lose, they have time to compose themselves, and not have to be there in front of everyone.

This made sense to me.

The folks who were there, were from the different campaigns, to get the election results, and then phone them onto their candidate.

Two people got phone calls from Ward 4 about 6 minutes after 8:00 PM, and the cat was out of the bag that it looked like Ed Cameron had won. (This was a huge “upset” over long time (14 years) Newburyport City Councilor, Erford Fowler.)

And then about 7 minutes after 8:00 PM, someone from the Newburyport City Clerk’s office came in, and started reading the election results.

The election results were read ward by ward (Newburyport has 6 wards and Ward 1 is broken up into 2 sections, the Mainland and Plum Island). So gradually I had this string of little numbers, that you have to be real good at math to add up.

People were zipping around the room, comparing notes, trying to make sure that they had written down the right numbers.

Bruce Menin had his computer set up and had all the numbers in a professional looking chart. (Looked just like the charts linked to from the Newburyport Blog election results post, November 6, 2007.) And then finally, we all figured out who had won. (See earlier entry.)

I learned from my previous 2 visits to Newburyport City Hall on election night, that our Newburyport City Clerk, Richard Jones, hands out the “unofficial” results if you wait around afterwards. Which I did.

And I was really impressed by our Newburyport City Clerk’s office. They were meticulous, calm and thoughtful about double and triple checking all the numbers, to make sure that they were all correct. It ended up being an honor to be able to wait and see the whole process unfold.

I got my “unofficial” copy of the election results, and came home and posted them for the readers of the Newburyport Blog.

Mary Eaton

Electoral Alterations in Newburyport, MA


A tectonic shift.

(The forces and movement often leading to cracks of large geographical masses.)

Something very significant has happened in this Newburyport city election, November, 2007.

I’m still processing this, but I know its huge.

And it has to do with the newly elected Newburyport City Council.

Mayor John Moak may be “conservative,” but this is the most “progressive” Newburyport City Council since I’ve been here. And it indicates that the dynamics and make-up of the city of Newburyport, MA has changed in some major way, big time.

And not to take away from any candidate’s hard earned spot on the Newburyport City Council, but I think Mother Nature did play a part.

It poured, and it was chilly early in the day and it didn’t stop until around 3 PM. It starts to get dark around 5 PM. And then it started to get cold and slippery (our first genuine frost last night).

And from what I can pick up from talking to folks around town, many seniors did not come out and vote. Who wants to get pneumonia?

But I think, for example, in Ward 4, where long time Newburyport City Councilor (14 years), Erford Fowler, lost to a “progressive” candidate, Ed Cameron, my guess would be that, quite rightly, folks knew somewhere, that even if Erford Fowler lost, Ed Cameron is a compassionate man, who worked very hard in this election, and could be trusted. And maybe not coming out in the cold, drenching rain, could be Ok.

And much to Ed Cameron’s and Erford Fowler’s credit, they were both very gracious, one in victory, and one in not winning.

And the fact that this “you pay your dues,” “you gotta be born here,” Yankee town, elected a woman, Kathleen Ives, who has been here 6 months, over a variety of candidates that have served the city in a variety of capacities, is also huge. (Again, I’m still processing this one.)

And why Gary Roberts lost is a complete mystery to me and everyone I’ve talked to. In my book, a real loss for the city of Newburyport, MA. (And I’m still processing this one as well.)

And the fact that for the first time, in a very long time, we have a mayor that is going to have a second term, is huge. And the fact that Jim Stiles, a basically unknown “progressive” at the start of this electoral campaign, did so well, is also huge.

For moi, much more to process. Much more to mull over.

Mary Eaton

Election Results, Newburyport 2007

Election Results, 2007, Newburyport, MA

I’ve just gotten back from Newburyport City Hall and Richard Jones, Newburyport’s City Clerk most graciously gave me the results of Newburyport’s election, November 6, 2007.


John Moak: 3007
Jim Stiles: 2320

Winner: John Moak


Barry Connell: 2554
Steven Hutcheson: 1856
Tom Jones: 2226
Gary Roberts: 1799
Mary Carrier: 1647
William Deans: 991
Donna Holaday: 3045
Kathleen Ives: 2054
Robert Kelleher: 1170
Al Lavender: 1788


Barry Connell
Tom Jones
Donna Holaday
Steven Hutcheson
Kathleen Ives


Greg Earls: 519
Chris Cronin: 337

Winner: Greg Earls


Erford Fowler: 438
Ed Cameron: 514

Winner: Ed Cameron


Bruce Vogel: 399
Brian Derrivan: 435

Winner: Brian Derrivan


Bruce Menin: 2371
Nicholas deKanter: 1742
Scott Frisch: 1289
Tracey Hurst: 1047
Barbara McDonough: 1552
Stephanie Weaver: 2538


Bruce Menin
Stephanie Weaver
Nicholas deKanter

Here is a printed version of the “unofficial” election results, so that folks could see the voting breakdown for themselves.

Please press here for, Election Results, 2007 for Mayor and Newburyport City Council.

Please press here for Election results for Newburyport School Committee, 2007.


Mary Eaton

Election Day in Newburyport

Election day in Newburyport, MA and it’s raining.

Well, it’s not only raining, but it’s pouring.

Which traditionally means that people are more likely not to vote, because who wants to go out in the literally pouring rain?

To see the weather forecast, press “WEATHER” at the top right hand side of the Newburyport Blog. It will take you to the weather channel and you can see all kinds of nifty stuff, like the radar, and when the rain is going to let up.

The good news is that the rain is supposed to let up by 3 pm this afternoon, and stop around 5 pm.

That gives folks in town an un-drenched time to go vote later in the day.

And it also gives folks coming home from work an un-drenched time to vote before the polls close at 8 PM.

After the polls close at 8 PM, I am going to wander down to Newburyport City Hall. And after our Newburyport City Clerk, Richard Jones, most graciously gives me a copy of the “unofficial results” of the election, I will post them on the Newburyport Blog.

I am also going to try and scan the paper that our city clerk gives me, so that folks can see the exact break down of the election results.

It would be lovely to be able to have a “virtual vote.” You can go and practice voting on Tom Salemi’s Blog, Newburyport Posts. Tom has a break-down of the candidates and what they are running for.

It doesn’t count though as the real thing.

The most official version of who is running for what is from the Newburyport City Clerk’s office (PDF Version). You can print it out, mark it up, and take it with you when you go vote today.

Mary Eaton

How You Vote Matters

Politics matters.

Who you vote for matters.

My old friend Frank Schaeffer (see early entries) has written a new book “Crazy for God, How I helped Found the Religious Right and Ruin America.”

(Note: that was the original subtitle, not the one the publisher eventually went with, but it’s the one I like. Please see Mr. Schaeffer’s website for the correct, official subtitle.)

The book talks about many things, including a first hand account of how the Religious Right came about and why it is so powerful. But it also talks about the negative impact that can come about when people only pay attention to the emotional and visceral aspects of politics and don’t think through the potential consequences.

(Mr. Schaeffer is doing a reading of “Crazy for God” at 7 pm, on Thursday, November 8, 2007, at the Bookrack at the Tannery, in Newburyport, MA. C-SPAN will be covering the reading (you may get to be on TV if you go), and Mr. Schaeffer is always entertaining. This is a vast understatement.)

That principal not only applies on the national level, but it also applies on the local level as well.

Who you vote for matters.

In 2 earlier entries I’ve broken down some of the candidates into (fairly simplistic) categories. (Please scroll down the Newburyport Blog to see the 2 entries.) Those categories indicate how candidates would most probably handle your life–your city government, which impacts your life in all sorts of ways.

So when you vote this week on, Tuesday, November 6, 2007, remember, your vote matters.

A neighbor of mine said, “I vote so that I have the right to complain.” Hopefully, if you vote, the issues that matter to you, would have a chance of being addressed, and you may not want to complain quite as much as you might want to otherwise.

Tuesday night I will probably go down to City Hall around 8:00 PM when the polls close, and would most likely put up the results of the Newburyport election 2007, on the Newburyport Blog.

And Tom Salemi on his blog, Newburyport Posts, gives you a chance to practice voting. He also has a great break-down of the candidates and what they are running for.

Also, it’s really fun.

Please press here to check it out.

Tom also has a great idea for the most official version of who is running for what, and that is the information from the Newburyport City Clerk’s office (PDF Version).

Mary Eaton

Voting in Newburyport, MA

How I would vote.

Instead of “endorsing” candidates, I thought I would share how I would vote on Tuesday, November 2, 2007. (Note: This would be how I would vote, and what I would look for in a candidate. It would not be the only or right way to vote.)

Many of you who have been following the Newburyport Blog, probably already have a some idea who I would be hoping for.

My leanings would be towards folks “In the Middle” and “Progressives.” But that’s just me.

I lean towards folks who are for historic preservation, rather than folks who would be for “property owner’s rights” or “developers’ rights.” I would like to see more “overlays” to ensure that our historic assets, the engine of Newburyport’s economy, are not destroyed.

I’m a big proponent of Open Space and Affordable Housing.

I like to see the bills paid.

I would like to keep our downtown as “authentic” as possible, and see some sort of “economic overlay” for downtown that controls the number of chain stores, so that we do not become one more bland place to live and visit.

I’m for more park and less parking on the Central Waterfront.

I’m for a Senior Center at Cushing Park. (I think we have a community center at the Newburyport Library, a truly nurturing and an incredible destination.)

I have no idea what the solution could be for the conundrum of our schools. I am hoping for thoughtful and civil folks in all civic areas, to wrestle with that very difficult dilemma.

Getting the Crow Lane Landfill horror finally resolved (which I think everyone in Newburyport, MA would like to see happen).

And I look for folks who are not rigid in their approach. Who have the ability, although they might see things one way, to realize that a different approach could be more appropriate and helpful for the citizens of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

And I am also looking for folks who would understand that whatever issue they could be voting on, would impact in some way, all of the residents of Newburyport, MA (young, old, middle-aged, rich, poor and middle income people), and would make that part of their decision making process.

(Again, for more information on various candidates, please check out “Election 2007, Newburyport–Blogs and Websites” at the right hand side of the Newburyport Blog.)

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s Note: Tom Salemi on his blog Newburyport Posts gives you a chance to practice voting. He also has a great break-down of the candidates and what they are running for.

Also, it’s fun.

Tom also has a great idea for the most official version of who is running for what, and that is the information from the City Clerk’s office (PDF Version).)

Candidates for Mayor, John Moak, Jim Stiles

Ok I’m going to do the really, really simple thing again.

My understanding from talking to folks, is that many people simply cannot or are not able to find time to investigate candidates who are running for public office in Newburyport, MA. And many folks would be more likely to vote if they had a one word “label.” (Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s true.)

(I realize that a simple “label” could not possibly describe any candidate’s position, and would not do justice to the nuances of a candidate’s view on different issues. For more detailed information, please check out the candidates’ websites, which are listed at the right side of the Newburyport Blog.)

For MAYOR of Newburyport, MA


Jim Stiles


John Moak

ELECTION DAY: Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Again, please check out the candidates’ websites which are listed at the right side of the Newburyport Blog, for more detailed information.

And also (again) see Tom Salemi’s account of the mayoral debate on his blog, Newburyport Posts.

Mary Eaton

Progressive and Conservative and In the Middle

What I thought I would do, since many folks that I talk to are unclear about what the Newburyport City Councilors at Large candidates stand for, I thought I would do a very simplistic break down.

I hate to “label” folks, but sometimes it would be good to “keep it simple.”

And there would be no right or wrong category. This is simply meant to be used for easy (and again, somewhat simplistic) information.

(For more detailed information on various candidates, please check out “Election 2007, Newburyport–Blogs and Websites” at the right hand side of the Newburyport Blog.)


Progressive Candidates:

Barry Connell
Donna Holaday
Kathleen Ives

Conservative Candidates:

Mary Carrier
William Deans
Al Lavender

In the Middle Candidates:

Steven Hutcheson
Tom Jones
Gary Roberts

ELECTION DAY: Tuesday, November 6, 2007


And Tom Salemi has a first hand account of the mayoral debates on Newburyport Posts. Please press here to read that entry.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s Note: Robert Kelleher, who is running for Newburyport City Councilor at Large, has contacted me to let me know that he would not like to be “labeled,” so I have taken him off the list, and put his name down in the Editor’s Note.

Again, for more detailed information on various candidates, please check out “Election 2007, Newburyport–Blogs and Websites” at the right hand side of the Newburyport Blog.)

Election Lethargy

My friend Frank Schaeffer (see earlier entries) who was my activist mentor, used to tell me that when people are involved in an issue that they get “meeting fatigue.” He used to tell me, pick one meeting, hype it, and expect people to go to that meeting only.

And in my experience that has been true. A wise man that Mr. Schaeffer.

What I sense in this upcoming election, next Tuesday, November 6, 2007 is a sense of lethargy.

Folks on both sides of the issue on the spring election for the Newburyport School override spent so much energy and passion, that it almost seems as if the “election passion” for the year has been used up. It feels like it is almost a “one election a year” gig.

It feels almost as if election-wise, “all passion is spent.”

And I have heard this from a number of candidates out there who are walking the wards.

My guess is, that if it would be a low voter turnout, we could very well see a more “conservative” Newburyport City Council.

If the voter turnout is high, it could be possible that we might see a more balanced and/or “progressive” Newburyport City Council.

We will just have to see what the turn out and the results could be on election day, Tuesday, November 6, 2007.

Mary Eaton

The Newburyport City Council Election

Question: Whether or not to go negative?

The question of whether or not to “go negative” on the Newburyport Blog as the Newburyport city election gets nearer (next Tuesday, November 6, 2007) is something that I’ve been wrestling with.

This is a small town, we meet at places like the grocery store and yes, at places like Newburyport City Hall.

There is one candidate that I am particularly concerned about– Al Lavender.

On Sunday, a friend of mine told me about the fundraiser that Mayor John Moak had thrown. And frankly, it was a stroke of genius.

$5.00 for all you could eat, delicious homemade food. I actually know some of the cooks that most probably did some of the cooking, and from what my friend told me, it sounded absolutely “yummy.”

A little like an old fashion church or community dinner, great food, fun, family, fellowship, available for all folks on all socio-economic levels. Very little in the way of political pronouncements. A good time had by all.

It’s one of the reasons Mayor John Moak was so successful in the last election. The “face” of his campaign was your average Newburyport resident, who is not normally involved in Newburyport city politics. And it spoke volumes.

The average resident, given the choice between a thoughtful person talking about issues, or a home cooked dinner that any senior could afford, which says “community” loud and clear–the average resident, I believe, would pick the candidate with “the dinner” every time.

And Mayor John Moak was at the fundraiser surrounded by various politicians and various former mayors, including Al Lavender.


1) On December 2001, $4,690,000 (that’s right 4.7 Million dollars) was on the table for the complete redesign of High Street (yup, that included things like brick sidewalks).

Mayor Al Lavender in 2002 agreed to a mere $792,425 instead (Yup, that’s leaving 4 Million dollars in MassHighway’s pocket. I’m sure that they could not have been more delighted. I was not.)

All of this is documented on High Street’s website under “Reference Documents.”

2) Mayor Al Lavender is widely credited for signing the “Host Agreement” with New Ventures creating the nightmare that the City of Newburyport, MA has had with the Crow Lane Landfill ever since.

3) Mayor Al Lavender granted a “buddy” a piece of the Newburyport Rail Trail. This was discovered at the very last minute. The Newburyport City Council, the Newburyport Planning Office, the Rail Trail folks and even the Newburyport City Solicitor (I do believe) knew nothing about this. (Fortunately the whole thing has been resolved.)

4) And I have been told that if Al Lavender does get onto the Newburyport City Council this upcoming term, that would make 10 years, and the city of Newburyport would be paying Mr. Lavender’s health care benefits, yup, as I understand it, for the rest of his life.

This is not an individual who I would like to represent me on the Newburyport City Council.

As a very conservative friend of mine said, “Al makes everyone else look brilliant.”

Mary Eaton

A Win-Win on the Newburyport City Council Floor

The mood on the Newburyport City Council floor on Monday night October 29, 2007 was, I would say, jovial from the get go– the night that the Fruit Street Local Historic District came up for its final vote.

Often when major decisions are made, the mood on the Newburyport City Council floor could sometimes be tense. On the night the vote for the special election for the Newburyport school override, it felt as if the whole place could be on edge.

But not last night. Last night was a whole different story.

During the “Public Comment” period, a lot of folks spoke on behalf of the Fruit Street Local Historic District, and not the usually faces. And sometimes, for me, the “Public Comment” period is not my favorite part to watch. It often feels painful.

But not last night.

The Newburyport City Council seemed to be genuinely moved by the folks that spoke during the “Public Comment” period.

Karen Battles of the Newburyport Preservation Trust had this to say:

“One of the delights of living here is walking through neighborhood after neighborhood of historic homes. Maybe because we are surrounded by it everyday, we don’t grasp how unbelievably rare this is in this day and age. As more and more places become cookie-cutter subdivisions and the same franchise appears every other block, the authentic becomes more and more valuable. We are the currents stewards of Newburyport, we have not only the right, but the obligation to protect our resources.” (Used with permission)

There was also a great deal of laughter and kidding around. This is not always the case.

And when it came to the vote on the Newburyport City Council floor, Newburyport City Councilor James Shanley spoke most eloquently. And you could almost hear people holding their breath as Richard Jones, the Newburyport City Clerk, called the roll.

And when the vote was not only in favor of the Fruit Street Local Historic District, but was unanimous, applause and cheers spontaneously broke out. A lot of jumping up and down with sheer relief and joy.

This is an example of a project that has taken decades to come about. And the actual creation of the Newburyport Fruit Street Local Historic District took a lot of time (2 years), with a great deal of public input and public process. There were no shortcuts here. And, from what I observed, there was also a great deal of dialogue with the Newburyport City Council and the Mayor as well.

And this combination of productive public process and constructive public dialogue made for a win-win situation, instead of public divisiveness that could occur over a variety of issues.

This whole process is an incredible example of how to get positive things accomplished on the municipal level. And again a big congratulations to everyone involved.

And again (see previous post) this Newburyport City Council 2006-2007 has come so far in working together and working for the good of the citizens of Newburyport, MA, and I am so proud of them. And not to repeat myself, but to repeat myself, I cannot fathom why anyone would say that that would not be so.

Mary Eaton

You’ve Come A Long Way Ms Ives

You’ve come a long way Kathleen Ives.

Back on September 4, 2007, I wrote a post about my meeting candidate for Newburyport City Council at Large, Kathleen Ives (Katy).

I found her to be delightful, smart, gutsy and energetic, someone who could be an real asset to Newburyport, MA. But being a newcomer, I really and truly did not think she had a prayer in the upcoming elections.

I do believe that Ms Ives could, might prove me wrong.

I have not talked to one person, once they have talked to Kathleen Ives, who would not like to see her on the Newburyport City Council.

And that’s no small accomplishment.

At first it was the more progressive folks and centrist folks that seemed to take a shine to Ms Ives.

However, when I started to talk to more conservative folks, they had the same reaction. They liked her too.

When Kathleen Ives started to put out signs, I would often see a sign just on its own. No other sign to be had on whatever property it might be. And that is often still the case. It appears that for some folks, Ms Ives would be their only pick.

And then I began to see Kathleen Ives signs clumped in with progressive candidates. Nestled in, for example, among signs for City Council candidate Donna Holaday and Mayoral candidate, Jim Stiles.

And then, low and behold, Ms Ives looks like she could be a crossover candidate. Her signs started to appear with mayoral candidate John Moak.

Kathleen Ives
John Moak
Campaign signs
in conservative ward, Ward 6

Kathleen Ives struck me as a person who could be able to facilitate people coming together. And other people appear to think so too. And if the signs are any sign that that could be true, despite her recent arrival, it is a possibility that Ms Ives could, might be an addition to Newburyport politics.

Mary Eaton