EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 29, 2013

Hart not seeking council re-election

As candidates' deadline looms, Haverhill election takes shape

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — One veteran city councilor is out and another well-known former councilor is in, as candidates line up for this year’s election.

Councilor Michael Hart, a former council president, did not take out nomination papers to get on the ballot for the fall election by Friday’s deadline. Hart could not be reached for comment.

David Hall, perhaps the council’s most outspoken member until he was defeated in the 2011 election, has returned his papers with the required 50 signatures from registered voters and will be on the ballot.

“I really miss it, I really do,” Hall, a retired Haverhill police sergeant, said in a phone interview Friday. “I needed the rest, but I’m ready to work hard to get back and then to make this city better.”

Tomorrow is the last day to return nomination papers, leaving the final ballot for council, School Committee and mayor up in the air for one more day.

The leading vote-getter in the last election is off the fence, and has decided to run. Councilor John Michitson, who had previously said he likely would not seek re-election for job-related reasons, has decided to run after all.

Michitson, a former mayoral candidate, resigned the council presidency last year after taking a job promotion that required extensive travel.

“You bet I’m running,” Michitson said in a brief email to The Eagle-Tribune, adding he’s not ready to stop using his council position to recruit innovative companies here and pushing for the city to do a better job maintaining public buildings.

Longtime School Committee member Scott Wood had said in the fall that he would likely run for council, but he has decided not to. Wood said he will finish the two years remaining in his school term before deciding which elected office he might run for next time.

The preliminary election, if one is needed, would be Sept. 17. The final election is Nov. 5.

Preliminary elections are held if there are more than double the number of candidates for available seats. A preliminary would be held if there were 19 council candidates, seven School Committee candidates or three people running for mayor.

As of Friday, not enough potential candidates had returned their papers to force a preliminary in any contest. However, City Clerk Peggy Toomey said it would not be unusual for several candidates to return their papers on the deadline day, which is tomorrow.

No matter what happens tomorrow, there won’t be a preliminary for council, however, because only 16 people took out papers. Of them, only eight candidates had returned their papers by Friday afternoon, including four of eight incumbents and five challengers.

Challengers who returned their papers are Hall, E. Phillip Brown, Timothy Connors, Kenneth Quimby and Fred Simmons. Potential challengers who have not returned their papers are Charles Early, Lynne Saben and Melinda Barrett.

For School Committee, seven residents, including the three incumbents, took out papers. But only challenger Maura Ryan Ciardiello and incumbents Joseph Bevilacqua and Raymond Siepina have returned them. Challengers David Prescott, Diane Boulanger Prescott, Gail Sullivan and incumbent School Committee President Paul Magliocchetti had not returned their papers as of last Friday.

Mayor James Fiorentini, who announced earlier this month that he will run for a Haverhill-record sixth consecutive mayoral term, has returned his nomination papers. His two potential opponents, former City Councilor Michael Young and Raul Diaz, had not returned their papers as of Friday.

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