Newburyport, Politics and Power Plays

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Yes For Newburyport” committee and their campaign for the override for the Newburyport Schools, which did not pass.

It seems to me that the “Yes” folks were predominantly young parents. Usually, if one has a 6 year old and you explain something that you think is important, the 6 year old would usually agree with you and most likely comply.

It is my observation that the “Yes” folks assumed that the electorate of Newburyport, MA would respond like a 6 year old. The group explained their position. And if folks didn’t agree, they explained again, just like one would with a younger child.

However, it is my take that the electorate might be much more like a 14 year old. A 14 year old hears you the first time. However, if the point is made repeatedly, or they feel belittled and/or scolded, the 14 year old may well dig in their heals, do the opposite and see suggestions, instructions as a “power play.” And then they will let you know exactly who has the “power.” And then lo and behold, whoops, things are not going as one would have expected.

And I think that’s part of what happened with the special election for an override for the Newburyport schools. The whole thing ended up in a series of “power plays,” ending up with the ultimate “power play” of election day.

And what I think maybe happening to our mayoral race here in Newburyport, MA, is that in reaction to the platform initiated by Jim Roy, we may end up seeing that this election may not, in part, end up being about issues, but about a series of “power plays.”

Would Tom Ryan have taken out papers to run for mayor of Newburyport, MA if Mr. Roy and company had not put forth their platform? We will never know, but it does appear that whatever multi-determined reasoning Mr. Ryan may have, Mr. Roy’s platform was one of the “tipping points” for Mr. Ryan’s entry into the race.

And in another turn of events, it looks like Jim Stiles, although he has not yet pulled papers, is having a get-together this Sunday for an informal enlisting of support as a candidate for mayor of Newburyport, MA. An informal “enlistment” usually means a person is running for mayor of Newburyport, MA.

I had heard a rumor that Mr. Stiles might run for mayor, and it looks like that rumor could be true. It is no secret, however, that Mr. Ryan and Mr. Stiles are not the best of friends. Mr. Stiles would be making a “pre-announcement” just after Mr. Ryan has pulled papers. One wonders about the conscious or unconscious “coincidence.”

It appears that the race for mayor may indeed, for the electorate of Newburyport, MA, end up being more about personalities than principals or issues. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. It could get the electorate’s small attention span (after all it is Paris Hilton that appears to be making headlines, not the war in Iraq), and some of the issues might actually subconsciously become part of the election process.

Weirder than fiction.

Mary Eaton