NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday defeated Dick Sullivan Jr. in a tightly contested race for mayor, 3,384 to 2,796.
Holaday took all wards except Ward 5, where Sullivan lives.
Holaday’s victory, won by a 55 to 45 percent margin, means she will serve a third term. In 2014, for the first time in history, it will be a four-year term. Just under half of the city’s registered voters turned out for the election.
“I want to give my sincere thanks for those who worked on the campaign,” said Holaday. “We had many volunteers and they worked all fall.”
Holaday identified the Oct. 22 debate with Sullivan as a key turning point in the campaign.
“I think the debate was a major event. I talked about what the administration had accomplished, and I believe voters really heard that.”
Sullivan, a first-time councilor and former member of the School Committee, said he would consider staying in local politics despite the loss.
“We talked about the issues,” said Sullivan, whose father, Dick Sullivan Sr., was a four-term mayor. “The tax bill is going to be coming, and I would remind people that I am in real estate” if they think they must sell their homes.
The new city charter sets the mayor’s salary at $98,000. The current salary is $86,000.
Holaday, 57, ran on a platform of achievement, especially in the area of infrastructure. During her term, the city has constructed a new sewage treatment plant, replaced the clearwell (water source) and enhanced sidewalks and streets.
Also, Holaday led an initiative that resulted in successful referendums for a new Bresnahan Elementary School, a rejuvenated Nock-Molin complex and a long-awaited senior center.
Holaday championed a new $1 million roundabout at the intersection of Merrimac and Spofford streets. That project has been slow to elicit praise and has been reworked because it is difficult for large trucks to maneuver there.