September 27, 2023

Letter to the Editor: The mayor’s seat

This is not to detract in any way from Christopher Braunschweig’s fine interview with mayor Hansen, or the Hansen administration’s accomplishments, but I’m not altogether convinced that His Honor is in a league of his own as the “longest-serving mayor” of Newton (Aug. 25).

Assuming that my mathematical abilities are still intact, I submit that mayors Clarence C. Harp and Thomas E. Hill share Mike Hansen’s “record” of longevity in the mayor’s seat.

Clarence Harp was first elected mayor at the head of the Citizens Ticket on Mar. 26, 1951. He was reelected to four more two-year terms. Failing reelection Nov. 7, 1961, he left the office Jan. 2, 1962 which he occupied continuously for 10.5 years. He served as a councilman for 2.5 years before that. (The half-years occurred because municipal election time was changed from spring to November.) Harp attempted a comeback in 1963, running for mayor as an Independent.

Similarly, Tom Hill, the Citizens Ticket candidate, was elected to the office on Nov. 5, 1963 and was reelected four times. He left office on Jan. 1, 1974 completing 10 years as mayor.

It is commendable that any citizen should offer her or himself as a candidate for “guiding the destinies of the city of Newton, over the troubles and worries and grief that only such positions can bring,” as a nearly century-old account in The Newton Daily News put it. Serving a decade or more in the office is remarkable. Such Newton luminaries as Prof. E. J. H. Beard, former superintendent of schools; F. L. Maytag; and former postmaster Milton A. “Milt” McCord, only served single two-year terms.

Larry Hurto