A Paradigm Shift is a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis.
As defined by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 in The Structure of Scientific Revolution, it just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.
Newburyport is undergoing a fundamental change that is creating a new reality. It is a metamorphosis from an old, industrial city that was lower to middle class in its demographics; to a city that is slowly becoming an affluent, upper middle class community. (This of course is speaking of the majority, however slight, and in contrast – indicates an ever shrinking minority who are not affluent.)
And it all happened in December, 2012.
Though the Waterfront Issue has consumed the electorate, underneath all that fury is a situation that is much more determined, much better funded and founded on an indignant anger, though rational in its process.
A few examples in our city are very telling,
Chris Welch being a former city councilor and having a long-connection with the community would naturally be a shoe-in for Ward 2 councilor. But because of the shifting paradigm, the never-before-run Jared Eigerman has a very good chance of taking the Ward. Difference? Chris Welch is of the old guard, one that largely did not deal with heritage tourism or with historic preservation. Still mumbling about Thermofix Plants and nuts and bolt issues; he has tried to embrace the new priorities but when pressed – the truth is, he has no real fealty. In contrast, Jared is not just an historic preservationist, he understands city planning concepts.
Tom Jones is a well-established townie with great experience as a city councilor. At one time, he was a heavy favorite to be mayor in this city. Anyone normally running against him would have been lucky to garner a third of the necessary votes. But December, 2012 changed everything. He, of the old guard, laughed at historic preservation and had the attitude that it was a silly notion. (It’s what our economy is based upon. Silly?) In contrast, Charlie Tontar, an economics professor (who knows what side of the bread the butter is drawn on!) is not only championing historic preservation but understands the value of long-term planning for our city. He has a very good chance of winning in spite of having no prior election experience.
Finally, Bob Cronin is, as far as I am concerned, a fine example of a results-oriented councilor. With his track record of getting things done, any opponent would be swatted flat like a fly. And yet, Leslie Eckholdt has a strong possibility of winning the seat. The reason lies in Cronin’s great Achilles’ heel, historic preservation. He consistently has gathered around him the fanatical Libertarians and anti-historic preservationists. He dared when the discussion of extending the demolition delay came up to offer one that would have basically disemboweled the Historical Commission and made its work ineffective. It’s this blind eye to the very historic district his ward largely lies within which has caused the ire of many citizens. Is it enough to knock him off? Too close to call, but because of his blind eye, Ms. Eckholdt has actually a fighting chance!
When the City Council in December, 2012 failed to protect the city’s most valuable asset and primary reason for its present affluence; a deciding moment in history was created. Our future is now one of gradual decent. The green light has been given for contractors, selfish homeowners and exploiting developers to despoil our city – we may have only ten years before the good times come to an end and we are no longer the attraction that has drawn so many to our borders.
We can fight like hell and try to undo the historic damage of 2012.
This is what this election is really about –
A brighter future is worth fighting for!