Election for Mayor of Newburyport

I think that we have two good candidates for mayor of Newburyport, MA–James Shanley and Donna Holaday, which makes me very happy.

We go to the polls and vote on Tuesday November 3, 2009. You can judge for yourselves which candidate you would vote for.

The two candidates have been video taped, thanks to PortMedia and CEB, and Gillian Swart (of Port Reporter Unlimited) does a really good job of moderating (congratulations to Gillian). So here they are in no particular order. You can also link to the videos of all the candidates–Newburyport City Councilors as well as the two candidates for mayor, at PortMedia here.

Donna Holaday for Mayor:

James Shanley for Mayor:

Newburyport is not Pleasantville

If anyone thinks that Newburyport, MA has gradually turned into a bland and happy version of Pleasantville, they are most decidedly wrong.

One of the things that I detect in the upcoming Newburyport 2009 election is still a strong and virulent backlash against the “Yes for Newburyport” campaign in the spring of 2007.

Dan Sweeney, aka “Pedro” of the Around the North Shore who has taken out papers for mayor of Newburyport, MA is probably the most “to the point,” vocal candidate so far, that would give voice to this point of view. “Pedro” has had a great deal to say on the matter, all of which is public record on Around the North Shore, and all of which I imagine he still stands by, otherwise Mr. Sweeney would not be running for mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

But in taking a gander at some of the various folks who have taken out papers to run for Newburyport City Council, there is a strong undercurrent of sentiment aligned with Dan Sweeney’s, although I imagine when it comes down to it, the tone could be more nuanced. In checking out the story on Clete Kijek (see earlier entry), who is running against Ed Cameron in the Ward 4 race, the date on the story about his giant truck urging people to vote on the override is May 16, 2007. It is stated that Mr. Kijek is a member of the anti-override group Know Newburyport.

So one of the spoken or unspoken issues of the local Newburyport 2009 race would be whether or not our local taxes would be raised, especially for the young children in our Newburyport school system. And my guess would also be that another undercurrent would be that old feisty Newburyport spirit–“Newcomers,” however that may be defined, aren’t going to take over our town, no way, no how.

The candidates that embody this point of view might not win, but it would be my guess that they would like to make sure that folks in Newburyport, MA know that they are still very much part of the picture.

Newburyport–Go Along to Get Along

The “go along to a get along” thing, I’ve never been good at it. In fact, I suck at it, so much so that it seems sometimes to me to be deep within my genes. It is both oddly one of my major character defects and one of my major strengths.

To succeed in corporate America, “go along to get along” helps a great deal. As an artist, or an activist, not so much.

My father always tried to encourage the “go along” approach in life, economically, socially, on all sorts of levels, it helps immensely. But if I try the “go along to get along” thing for any length of time, it makes me itch.

And it’s one of the reasons I miss Tom Ryan and the Undertoad in Newburyport, MA. If ever there was someone who refused to do the “go along to get along” approach, it was Mr. Ryan.

Now in Newburyport, MA there are a blanket of blogs out there with a “go along to get along” approach. They are probably very smart. It makes me itch.

I was once asked by a local politician to be the blog voice that supported Newburyport/New England Development, to be a part of something really big. To “go along to get along” with the largest owners of downtown Newburyport and the folks that work so closely with them.

I declined, knowing that I probably would break out in a rash, it would be going so much against the grain of my innate nature.

It seemed to me that as a blogger it would be good for me to have a skeptical nature about our largest downtown landowner and the folks that work so closely with him. I doubted that whatever my input might be, the powers with millions of dollars probably had a pretty good idea already of what they felt would be the most expedient use of their resources to develop the property in question–I would most likely not change or mold anyone’s mind.

So in the political landscape that is shaping up for the 2009 local Newburyport election, I may wonder closely about any candidate that contemplates whether they might have the power of persuasion over the multi-million dollar project that will one day take place on the most expensive land in Newburyport, MA, along the mouth of the Merrimac River. Or think that they might be the person that is able to really “go along to get along” and bring all the powers that be, with all the inevitable conflicts of interest, to the table and shape the Newburyport to come. The fascinating and fractious history and spirit of our small New England city is witness to the difficulty of ever achieving this most ambitious point of view.

Newburyport and Why?

I always used to drive my mother nuts by asking “Why?” “Why was ‘Aunt Hilda’ taking a ‘vacation’ by herself for X amount of weeks or months?”

It wasn’t enough to know that the event was happening, I wanted to know the reason behind it, because “Aunt Hilda” never did stuff like that. Was it because of marital problems, illness, midlife crisis? Why? I was never told why in these situations, but I would not have felt judgmental, it just would have explained a puzzling reality, and the world would seem to make more sense (if that ever would be a possibility).

I have a lot of local political questions. It’s not a judgmental thing, it’s a “this isn’t making sense to me” thing.

Why is James Shanley running for mayor of Newburyport, MA when Donna Holaday, a very capable candidate with almost an exact platform, with a lot of name recognition, is also running, and has always made it known that this is something that she would always do. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have James Shanley with his experience and institutional memory to be a major part of the Newburyport City Council next year and work constructively with Donna Holaday?

Why are there 4 people at the moment running for Newburyport City Councilor in Ward 3, James Shanley’s Ward? Not that I’m not for civic enthusiasm, I am, and not that I don’t think it will make it a more interesting race, it will, and I like interesting races.

Who is Clete Kijek (actually that one wasn’t so hard to find out, I remember him most vividly from this story in the Newburyport Daily News) and why is he running against Ed Cameron in Ward 4.. there has to be a story there.

Why did Mayor John Moak really step down, when he seemed pretty enthusiastic about running for mayor of Newburyport, MA for a 3rd term in January of 2009.

And what is happening to “institutional memory,” in Newburyport, MA, it seems to be vanishing. I rarely see it in our newspapers, one of the reasons being it’s hard to keep local reporters, and it’s getting hard to keep any newspaper afloat, and I don’t see it much in our local blogs.

And when is Stephen Karp going to start building on Newburyport’s waterfront?

And just how many folks will come out of the woodworks and end up running in some capacity in the Newburyport, 2009 election? My guess is that we may see a few more yet.

Political Problem Solvers

I feel very protective of our new president.

I ask myself if this were true if it had been Senator McCain, and after some mild soul searching, the answer is “yes,” the country being in such a mess. Sarah Palin, if my soul searching is truly legit, not so much.

I even get offended by Jon Stewart, which is very hard to for me to do. I say to the television, because Jon Stewart cannot hear me, “I know you are trying to be ironic, but it’s just not working, at all.” And then I think to myself that irony really must be going out of fashion, if someone like Jon Stewart is having a hard time pulling it off (see early entry).

I’m getting ever more impatient with the fringes of not only the “Right,” but to my growing surprise, equally, if not more so, with the “Left.”

“Give it up all ready,” I say to no one who can actually hear me, “Stop being so stupid, we need to get things done here.”

I so far I am very much taken with this “new” political approach of President Obama’s, i.e. “problem solving.” This definitely works for me.

And as our own Newburyport local race for mayor begins to get going, I am going to look at candidates through the Obama lens. It’s quite a standard to live up to, but tough luck, I think it’s about time that local Newburyport politics also got this “righteous.” In fact I think it’s about time that all politics got this “righteous,” even though we are only two and half days into this new president’s presidency, and I’m assuming here, that the righteous politics stuff is going to continue.

I’m going to look for candidates who listen to different sides, not just out of duty, or worse, not actually even paying attention, but because they are really and truly interested, and think that maybe someone else might come up with a better idea than they would.

I’m looking for candidates who are so confident that they might be willing to surround themselves with people much more intelligent and much more capable than themselves.

I’m looking for candidates who could embrace this new paradigm of governing, hoping against hope that this new paradigm of governing of President Obama’s may actually work. Two and a half days down the road, so far so good.