I was going to call this post, “The Mayor is Scary,” but then I decided against it, more fun with the weird title (and part of the title will actually make sense).
I went for a walk a few weeks ago and ran into an old, old acquaintance, and during the conversation, a little out of nowhere, my old acquaintance said to me, “The mayor is scary.”
I can’t tell you, with multi-multiple variations on that particular theme, how many times I’ve heard that sentiment. And if you are a reader of the Newburyport Blog, you’ve either probably said it, or heard it too.
What came out of my mouth in response, (and I think I said this the very first time someone asked me about Donna Holaday, when she first ran for Newburyport City Council), Donna’s husband is a serious, at one time, a real big-time rock and roll (Wikipedia link here) guitar player/singer, who sings a song with a rubber chicken on his head (also in the Wikipedia link) — really. And Joe Holaday has to be one of the most grounded and kindest people I know. How scary can someone be who’s married to someone who performs a rock and roll song with a rubber chicken on their head, who is also grounded and kind, be? (Unless funky rubber chickens frighten you.)
And this is a woman, who in a recent City Council meeting, gave a history, without notes, with lots of confusing detail, about the Plum Island Water and Sewer mess. Let me tell you, I was impressed.
This is also a woman who can be politically deaf. It is one of her shortcomings. I saw it when Mayor Holaday was a city councilor and I’ve seen it as mayor. My own personal experience was when it looked like the City could save a bunch of money by turning off all the street lights (really and truly). I was upset, especially when I got a hold of the list. And when I made the list public on the Newburyport Blog, a lot of other people were upset too.
Could I tell that the mayor was a little dismayed with me? Yes. Did I take it personally? No. And Mayor Holaday and the Energy Advisory Committee came up with one brilliant solution, it was a win-win-win solution (way, way too complicated to explain here, but you can sort of understand it, a little bit, here).
Do I disagree with the mayor on some stuff? Yes. Do I wish that Mayor Holaday put more emphasis on things that are my passion, like historic preservation? Yes. Do I think she’s perfect? No? Do I think that she is a good mayor? You betcha.
And I do have an anecdote. I had worked on first “saving” High Street, when it was almost destroyed by MassDOT (then MassHighway) back in 1999 (my intro to local Newburyport politics), and I worked on a Master Plan for High Street for 6 years. When, in a weird political hurricane, it was denied existence (it was eventually resurrected and sits in the Planning Office, somewhere), then City Councilor Donna Holaday was the only person who called me up, and she said how sorry she was, and how she appreciated all the years of work that I had helped put into the project. That’s something you don’t forget. At least, that’s something I don’t forget. And that is the Donna Holaday I know.