HAVERHILL — Maura Ryan-Ciardiello was looking forward to working on the School Committee with Raymond Sierpina, who was principal of Tilton Elementary School when she began teaching there.
But Ryan-Ciardiello, who jumped into the political scene this year as a first-time candidate for the committee, will not get that opportunity. In yesterday’s election, she forced Sierpina off the committee, as voters chose her over the incumbent.
“I was really hoping to serve with Ray,” Ryan-Ciardiello said during a family-and-friends victory celebration held at Archie’s Little River Ale House in Lafayette Square. “I learned a lot from him and was really hoping to be on the School Committee with him.
“That was my only upset tonight,” she said.
Ryan-Ciardiello finished second behind top vote-getter Joseph Bevilacqua, a longtime committee member.
In winning a fourth term, Bevilaqua received 4,757 votes while Ryan-Ciardiello got 4,664.
Coming in third and retaining his seat on the committee was Paul Magliocchetti. Newcomer Gail Sullivan placed a very close fourth in an unsuccessful bid for office. Fifty-two votes separated Magliocchetti (4,488) and Sullivan (4,436). She is a teacher at Northern Essex Community College and the University of New England. She has also been a high school principal, curriculum specialist, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
Sierpina, who finished fifth and last in the race with 3,806 votes, was gracious in accepting defeat. He said he did the best job he could by attending every School Committee meeting and working in harmony with the other members to help move the school system forward.
“I enjoyed my stay on the board, visiting schools, meeting with principals and getting to know the challenges they face on a daily basis,” he said. “I’ll certainly miss it.”
For Ryan-Ciardiello, Haverhill politics is a family affair. She will serve on the School Committee with her brother-in-law Shaun Toohey, while her father, former mayor William Ryan, retained his seat on the City Council in yesterday’s election.