Political Landscape 2008

The Newburyport political landscape has changed.

Looking back at January 2006, things are different.

In my mind, John Moak has grown in his job as mayor of Newburyport, MA. Mr. Moak has appeared to move from some entrenched positions, to being more flexible, as well as moving much more politically to the “center.”

Two years ago there was “drama” and upheaval in the Office of Planning and Development. It was fairly evident that Newburyport’s controversial but talented and gifted Planning Director, Nick Cracknell was not going to be reappointed. Nine months of planning and development chaos later, the city of Newburyport, MA now has an extremely competent Planning Director, Nancy Colbert.

And 2 years later, the Newburyport’s Planning Office (as far as I know) is “stable.” This is a huge change.

Since the removal of long time Newburyport Redevelopment Authority member and chair, Mary Lou Supple, and the backlash and drama that ensued, mayor John Moak has moved from his entrenched position of all parking on the Central Waterfront. The ongoing conundrum of the Central Waterfront actually seems to be making some movement forward. In my mind, this is a very good thing.

And one of the themes of the Mayor’s inaugural speech was having much better communication with the Newburyport City Council, something that seemed to have proven difficult in his first term. This was echoed by the new Newburyport City Council president, James Shanley. A very good sign.

And the Newburyport City Council 2 years ago took about 6 months to become a cohesive working body. There was the drama and upheaval about finding a new Newburyport City Clerk (it is generally agreed that the present city clerk Richard Jones could not be better) and filling the vacant Ward 1 seat.

This Newburyport City Council 2008 has none of that “drama” to contend with.

This Newburyport City Council strikes me as having potential. They are a thoughtful and bright group of people. They may not agree on all the issues (we wouldn’t want that anyway), but it appears that there could be some hope of mutual respect for differing points of view, and a desire to find common ground. I am going to be very interested to see if this particular Newburyport City Council comes together as a cohesive body, one that has the potential of working well with Mayor John Moak.

Mary Eaton