Congressman Moulton endorses Holaday for mayor

By Jack Shea Staff Writer

NEWBURYPORT — Congressman Seth Moulton, D-Salem, announced his endorsement Wednesday of Donna Holaday for re-election as the city’s mayor.

Moulton, who represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Newburyport, issued a statement, praising Holaday’s cooperation with local, state and federal officials and her ability to “get things done.”

“Leaders often have to make difficult decisions in order to get things done,” he said. “Donna Holaday has never shied away from those decisions, and she has always done so with the best interest of the people of Newburyport in mind. She tackled long-term community needs like modernizing the schools and building a new senior center. She has been a strong advocate for protecting the historic fabric of the community while also recognizing and facing its growing challenges.”

Read the full article here. 

Newburyport Daily News: Holaday proposes tax break program for seniors

By Jack Shea

NEWBURYPORT –Mayor Donna Holaday has proposed a property tax break for the city’s senior citizen homeowners.

The tax break would be a portion of 5 percent to 10 percent of the average assessed value of all properties in the city in accordance with state law. Homeowners 65 and older would be eligible to apply.

Holaday unveiled the proposal to the City Council at its meeting Sept. 25. Given the current average assessed value in the city, if the exemption were set at 10 percent, for example, seniors could save from $621 to $1,242, according to preliminary calculations.

“As our housing values soar and property taxes have increased, we know this creates a burden on some of our seniors,” Holaday said in a press release. “It’s time they got a break.”

Read the full article here.

Op-Ed: Schools are thriving but challenges remain

By Mayor Donna Holaday

The education of our children is one of the most important priorities of our community and I want you to think back to 2010 and the status of our school district.

We were dealing with devastating budget cuts dating back to 2007 that resulted in the loss of our neighborhood K-4 elementary schools, layoffs of teachers and staff, and the elimination of programs, including world languages at the middle school.

The high school’s accreditation was at risk. Our middle school and especially the elementary school buildings were in need of immediate attention. The Bresnahan, built in the 1950s, could no longer provide the 21st century facility our children deserved. Moldy trailers were being used for classrooms; the technology was antiquated, there were major space, health and safety issues. The situation was no longer acceptable.

We were able to effectively advocate for our school building needs with assistance from Sen. Steven Baddour and Rep. Michael Costello. The Mass. School Building Authority accepted Newburyport into the program with two projects: a new elementary school for pre-K to Grade 3, and renovations to the Nock/Molin School with the state contributing approximately 50 percent of the funding to each project.

Today, thanks to our residents and the great efforts of the concerned parents of Port Pride, we came together as a community to vote for a debt exclusion to support the gap funding for the school projects. We can be very proud of what we accomplished for our children and their education.

We also were very fortunate to finally stabilize leadership in our school district over the past five years with Superintendent Susan Viccaro.

She was instrumental in uniting our school district and creating a meaningful and operational strategic plan to guide our district from our administration to the classroom. My administration has worked diligently to address the structural deficit in the school budget.

Our Chapter 70 school funding from the state is roughly $4 million per year with $2 million allocated to the charter school. This leaves our community with the challenge of providing the additional $28 million needed strictly for operations.

The issue here is the state funding process for charter schools, not our River Valley Charter School. Yet, we rose to the challenge, increasing the budget allocation by 28 percent over the past seven years.

This enabled us to restore teacher and staff positions, maintain small class sizes, and add electives, honors and AP classes at Newburyport High. It also has allowed us to provide a robust professional development program for teachers and staff, advance new curricula, technology, STEM and lab programs, and establish new partnerships with higher education.

Our high school was recently ranked 32 out of the 50 best high schools in the state by the annual Boston magazine survey. Our graduation rate is strong and 99 percent of our teachers are certified in their core academic subject.

MCAS and PARCC assessment data has been above the state average. But the real highlights of our school district are our amazing and dedicated teachers engaging students in Real World competitions, poetry slams, environmental work and stewardship, fundraising for a well in South Sudan, creating artificial hands with a 3-D printer to help those with disabilities, and so much more.

Our schools are thriving but we are facing new transitions with the retirements of Superintendent Viccaro and NHS Principal Mike Parent. We also must continue to implement the fiscal plan to close the structural budget deficit in our schools.

Finally, we must work collaboratively to provide later start times for teens while balancing the other impacts and costs. I believe the mayor has a leadership role to play in education in our city. I have tried to provide strong leadership while working closely with the parents, School Committee, City Council, superintendent, teachers, staff – and our students. We have made great achievements in our schools. Let’s continue this work.

Op-Ed: Time to make garage work for all

By Mayor Donna Holaday

Last Monday night the City Council, in an 8-3 vote, approved bonding for the construction of the garage/intermodal facility at the old Fitness Factory location at Titcomb, Merrimac and Pleasant streets. The city has been discussing a parking garage for over 30 years with multiple failed attempts that spanned several administrations. I am grateful that after 10 years of intensive work on this plan, we are moving forward. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to the City Council for their measured and careful consideration of this project as well as the extensive hours of work this task required of their time. This was not an easy vote to cast and I appreciate every councilor who stood up and voiced his opinion. I would also like to acknowledge and thank my team at City Hall for all the hard work and effort they provided to achieve this historic vote and I specifically want to offer my sincerest gratitude to the city’s Director of Planning, Andy Port, and Ethan Manning, our Finance Director for their contributions to achieve this goal.

The primary objective of this project has always been to move a minimum of 100 cars off of our central waterfront to finally create more open green space which has been consistently favored by our residents and would significantly improve our central waterfront. This project has been long overdue and will now finally come to fruition.

It is also important to recognize the number of residents and business owners who offered their voices to the debate, many who attended meeting after meeting. There have been strong positions on each side, but now it is time to unite in making this work for all the residents of Newburyport, including the abutters, the neighborhoods, the waterfront and our city as a whole.

We have much work ahead that will continue to involve the city councilors, the community and especially the Intermodal Advisory Group and neighborhood.

As Jay Ash, secretary of Economic Development wrote, “I’ve been very impressed with the proposal in Newburyport because it addresses a local need to continue to promote the economy. Many communities are challenged to support commerce, small businesses and the growth of jobs and tax revenues… I know many communities wish they were in a position to be able to build the garage and have the promise of such economic vitality. I’ve been impressed with the city’s administration’s work to bring the vision to reality and that’s why Gov. Baker and I have decided to provide the funding to support the project.”

I believe that within the very near future the city will recognize the benefits of this garage and we will reap its rewards for generations to come.

Thank you.


Newburyport Daily News: Forum for Newburyport mayoral candidates slated Sept. 13

NEWBURYPORT – The Daily News and Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry are co-sponsoring a forum for the candidates for mayor on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

The event at the Senior / Community Center on High Street, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will be open to the public and broadcast live on Port Media cable TV.

The three candidates, Mayor Donna Holaday, City Councilor Robert Cronin, and Dr. Hazem Mahmoud, have been invited to participate.

Read the full article here.

Op-Ed: Financial Strength is Our Future

By Donna Holaday

One of the greatest challenges and responsibilities of leading a community is the efficient and effective management of our finances. When I assumed the role of your mayor, our city’s needs were enormous from years of deferred maintenance, cuts in state aid and the slow recovery from a national recession.

Read more Here



Opinion: Opponent Off Course With Partisan Scare Tactics

By Andrew Simpson

To the Editor:

In his June 22 letter to The Daily News, Newburyport mayoral candidate Bob Cronin tried to scare us into believing our city is being overtaken by partisan politics and outside interests. He wants to “chart a new course” free from “the distractions of partisan politics or undue outside influence.”

Cronin is the one trafficking in distractions. Our nonpartisan local election system works. To their credit, our Republican, Democratic and unenrolled city councilors, mayor and state officials, while not always agreeing, have put the city first and avoided the dysfunction we see elsewhere.

Mayor Donna Holaday has worked with the Democratic Patrick and the Republican Baker administrations, Republican state Rep. James Kelcourse and Democratic state Sen. Kathy O’Connor-Ives, former Republican Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins and his successor, Democratic Sheriff Kevin Coppinger, and Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito — to name just a few. Seems our mayor isn’t a very good partisan.

Read the full Letter to the Editor here.