NORTH ANDOVER — It was a first on Sunday morning for the North Andover Democratic Town Committee, hosting a virtual breakfast while continuing a long-standing tradition of honoring the party’s representatives and supporters.
The breakfast, led by Mark DiSalvo, brought local Democrats together, including state legislators and candidates running for local office. The virtual event also featured special tributes to supporters.
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, returned to the breakfast this year as the keynote speaker, thanking everyone for their support during his reelection campaign and giving updates on the progress he feels is being made in Washington, D.C.
Markey was also the guest speaker a year ago.
“I loved being with you last year,” the senator said, adding that a lot has happened in the past year to make him very hopeful for what’s to come.
“There is a light at the end of this dark, year-end tunnel,” Markey said. “We want to get things done.”
Markey said Democrats should be proud they won “the trifecta,” keeping control of the House of Representatives, winning the Senate and taking back the White House.
Markey also said President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will bring relief and support to those needing it most as the pandemic continues.
“It feels like our country is emerging from a very long and dark winter,” Markey said. “It’s been a hard year but we have a lot of work to do. It’s time to rise up, to put our justice agenda into action.”
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, sent a video message, thanking all for their support and hard work.
The committee honored Andrea Holmberg as Democrat of the Year. She received her official award at home Saturday.
Committee Chairman Michael Lis told the audience that Holmberg was deserving of the honor — calling her a tireless campaign worker, party supporter and someone who has held signs in rain and snow, helped complete many tasks to support candidates, and has immeasurable generosity and commitment.
For Holmberg, it was a honor to be recognized.
She credited the many women in her life who helped drive her commitment to help others. That included her mother, friends, and even her young daughter.
Holmberg said she would continue to work for the candidates in whom she believes.
Former Eagle-Tribune reporter Paul Tennant was also honored by the committee, with DiSalvo saying Tennant’s work over the years covering local news has been valuable to the community.
“And I always enjoyed attending and covering the North Andover Democratic Town Committee breakfast,” Tennant said, adding that after the results of last fall’s election, he has a renewed sense of hope.
“The last four years have been less than pleasant,” Tennant said. “I’m seeing leadership that doesn’t seek to divide.”
In addition to state legislators giving their own views, local candidates running for several North Andover elected positions were invited to speak.
Those running for Select Board include incumbent Richard M. Vaillancourt, Joseph Finn and Janice Phillips. For School Committee, the candidates are Andrew McDevitt, David Brown, Joseph Hicks, Rebecca Stronck and Pamela Wall-Pietrowski. Max Butterbrodt hopes to win a five-year term on the Housing Authority.
DiSalvo is also running for another term as town moderator.
DiSalvo stressed that this part of the breakfast was nonpartisan, and all candidates were invited to participate. North Andover’s election is March 30.
Those who attended the virtual breakfast took part in an electronic straw poll asking for nonbinding opinions on several questions, including how participants feel about Biden’s response to the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker’s response, and on the local front, North Andover’s response.