They hold influential, elected positions in local government, but only one will step up to a more powerful post at the state level.
The four candidates for the 1st Essex state Senate seat serve on the city council or school committee in their communities.
As they compete for the Senate post, this is the first open race for the seat in a decade. The former senator, Methuen Democrat Steve Baddour, resigned earlier this year to take a job with a private law firm.
Kathleen O’Connor Ives, the Democratic nominee, is a third-term Newburyport city councilor. Shaun Toohey, the Republican nominee, is in his ninth year on the Haverhill School Committee and serves on the Whittier Regional Vocational School Committee. Paul Magliocchetti, an Independent, is a first-term Haverhill School Committee member. James Kelcourse, also an Independent, is in his second term on the Amesbury City Council.
The Eagle-Tribune asked the candidates to discuss some of their accomplishments as elected officials and how they would serve the Senate district, which includes Amesbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Merrimac, Haverhill, Methuen and part of North Andover.
They talked about issues including fees charged to residents, solving disputes with teachers, providing help to military veterans, and improving classroom programs.
Picking their political battles
O’Conner Ives has fought to close a much debated Newburyport landfill and opposed new fees for businesses and residents.
Toohey helped negotiate a new contract for Haverhill teachers that included more than $500,000 in health care savings, fought to see sports fees reduced for students and backed the hiring of School Superintendent James Scully, who he said stabilized the district.
Magliocchetti led an effort to remove Haverhill’s former maintenance director and reform that department, bring all-day kindergarten to city schools at reduced cost to parents, and resolve contract disputes with several school unions.