EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 28, 2013

Wood eyes City Council run

Longtime school committee member likely to run for council

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Scott Wood, in his 10th year on the School Committee, is considering a bid for City Council.

Wood, 29, a 2001 Haverhill High School graduate and the city’s youngest elected official, said he is likely to run for council and will decide for sure by the end of next month. If elected to the council, he said he has not decided if would resign his School Committee position or finish out his term, which has two years remaining.

Nomination papers for nine city council spots, three School Committee seats and mayor are available starting May 8 — the unofficial kick-off of election season.

The last day to take out papers for city’s fall elections is July 26. To get on the ballot, the papers are due back to the clerk with signatures from at least 50 registered voters by July 30.

Wood, a manager at a local mortgage banking company, said his priorities on the council would be fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes down, holding employees accountable for their performance and actions, and bolstering the police department with more resources and new programs.

Wood, who has degrees in public administration and criminal justice, said he would like to be involved with growing the rail trail the city is building in Bradford along the Merrimack River. He also want to re-establish the police department’s community policing program, which he said has dwindled in recent years due to budget cuts.

“The mayor says crime is down. I can’t speak to the numbers, but the perception out there is that we need to do more to make people feel safe,” Wood said. “The police department’s efforts right now seem to be limited to responding to calls for service rather than preventing trouble. One of the best ways to prevent crime is with community policing, which was much bigger in the 1990s when we had police sub-stations in high-crime areas. I want our officers out on the streets talking to people, especially children and the elderly, and meeting with neighborhood groups.”

Wood, who is on the mayor’s downtown zoning committee, said he is a big supporter of the rail trail project and would like to have a role in seeing it move forward. Being on the council would allow that, he said.

Wood was elected to his third, four-year term on the School Committee last year. Since joining the board 10 years ago, he has served as president and vice president. He counts his role negotiating the most recent teachers contract and the hiring of Superintendent James Scully two years ago among his biggest accomplishments.

“The teacher contract was a long and tough process, but the agreement included low pay raises and health care reforms that have saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Wood said.

On the school board, Wood has resisted efforts to close many of the city’s many small, neighborhood schools. In 2005 he led a controversial and unsuccessful effort to privatize the school custodial operation.

Wood is a member of the Greater Haverhill Boys and Girls Club and the Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport, an organization that helps people with developmental disabilities. He also coaches youth basketball at the Haverhill YMCA.

Every two years, voters elect their mayor, nine councilors and three School Committee members. The mayor and councilors serve for two years. The School Committee seats are for four years, but they rotate, with three of the six available every two years. School Committee members get $5,000 per year and councilors get $8,000. The mayor’s annually salary is $90,000.

The municipal election is Nov. 5, with a preliminary contest Sept. 17 if necessary. Preliminary elections are held if there are more than double the number of candidates for available seats or positions. For instance, a preliminary would be held if there are 19 council candidates, seven school candidates or three people vying for mayor.