As I indicate who is for historic preservation, don’t get angry with me! (it’s real simple – are you or are you not?)
But before I list candidate positions, for those who get easily confused (you know who you are!), there is a big difference between history and historic preservation! History is in books, displayed in museums, demonstrated by architecture and monuments. People don’t realize that what they believe in today, do today and see today is all history. It’s just stuck in that minute essence of the present. And that accumulated “present” not only constitutes history, it shapes future “presents”.
But it’s not historic preservation.
It was decided some 40 years ago that Newburyport was going to make its money by being a tourist destination and that our historic buildings would be the big draw and the celebration of our historic city would be translated into culture and yes, dollars.
Let’s just say it, “Newburyport decided to make its money by attracting tourists.” To hedge our bets, we also built an industrial complex in case the former didn’t work out.
This choice meant we would celebrate our ancient architecture and past and in particular our Romantic Era between 1764 to 1864. The NRA/HUD was halted in its tracks from demolishing the entire downtown and was told to turn its energies to restoration. The immediate downtown under the NRA control had a preservation restriction put upon it similar to a local historic district ordinance to ensure that the Federal dollars would not be in vain. (This protection expired in 2005 with little fanfare or notice, unfortunately.) The city surveyed and designated the Newburyport Historic District from Atkinson Common to the border with Newbury in 1983-1984. It’s aim was eventual local historic district status and then if the National Park Service approved, Landmark status. Shops with some element of historic themes were instituted or at least looked historic. The waterfront was cleaned up in hopes of attracting boats which in turn were attracted by our beautiful historic downtown.
It was a tough struggle. There were many failures along the way because 1) most of America had no idea Newburyport existed, 2) those who did know of the city remembered as it was before (Yuck!) and 3) the Curse was in effect and so no one bothered to introduce Newburyport to the rest of the country! and 4) we still have a sector of our population that would love to go back to the “old days” when we were a factory town.
But ironically, Newburyport has truly arrived. We have re-emerged as a regional leader, have attained an affluence that hasn’t been seen since the heady days of the early 1800’s and are poised to sustain for the first time in our history, a level of prosperity not dependent on the rest of the nation’s economic status. But ironically today, there are no protections in our infrastructure to sustain that success.
Well, this September and November, we will have a decision to make – do we abandon 40 years of effort and cast the city adrift or re-affirm it and continue to prosper?
Here below are the candidates who have made their choice known:
Ed Cameron, Councilor-at-Large Incumbent
Barry Connell, Councilor-at-large, Incumbent
Leslie Eckholdt, Ward 3 Candidate
Jared Eigerman, Ward 2 Candidate
Ari Herzog, Councilor at Large, Incumbent
Donna Holaday, Mayor, Incumbent*
Bruce Menin, Councilor-at-Large Candidate
Sheila Mullins, Councilor-at-Large, Candidate
Charles Tontar, Ward 4 Candidate
Christopher Welch, Ward 2 Candidate
Laurel Allgrove, Councilor-at-large, Candidate
Bob Cronin, Ward 3 Councilor, Incumbent
Larry Giunta, Ward 5 Candidate
Lyndi Lanphear, Councilor-at-Large, Candidate
Tom Jones, Ward 4 Councilor, Incumbent (Was for historic preservation for a few election cycles but reversed himself last December)
Tom O’Brien, Ward 6 Councilor, Incumbent (Somebody do a right-in!)
Dick Sullivan, Jr., Mayoral Candidate
Unfortunately, this batch below are in the fence-straddling department or keeping their mouths shut:
Allison Heartquist, Ward 1 Councilor, Incumbent
Meghan Kinsey, Councilor at Large, Candidate
Sean Reardon, Ward 5 Councilor Candidate
PS. Just because they are for historic preservation does not mean I agree with all their other stances. That’s the problem with being a single-issue voter! (In other words, don’t waste your breath informing me one or another candidate kisses babies and steals their candy – It is the preservation of the city that is my one and only focus.)
Post-post script: If you are a candidate and disagree with your designation or wish to be shuffled into one or the other category, I would be pleased to put you in the correct camp. I will loudly inform my readers of the error, but be assured that deception won’t be taken kindly by me or the residents of Newburyport!
* Supportive but buckled under the pressure of last year’s debate.