EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

October 17, 2013

Council debates highlight differences between districts

METHUEN — The firing of the city’s health director and the privatization of its departments were two of the main issues at City Council debates last night.

Candidates split along district lines on key issues rather than contrasting with each other in the two separate debates.

Both debates were held at the MCTV studio off North Lowell Street last night. Those debates, along with the West District Council debate held Tuesday night, will air starting Friday. Debates for the mayoral race and the at-large council race will air live tonight starting at 6 p.m.

In the Central District debate, incumbents Jamie Atkinson and Lisa Yarid-Ferry said they voted against eliminating public health director Brian LaGrasse, while challenger Jack Cronin, a former City Councilor, said he “was surprised when the position was cut.”

Community development director William Buckley has assumed some of the health director’s responsibilities, but Cronin said a health director has certifications a community development director, whose department covers building, economic development and health issues, does not have.

Ferry said the city has to prove that the department can still handle health issues. “I believe that if there was a public health emergency, we should revisit hiring a public health director,” she said.

Atkinson said the cut “left a poor taste with the citizens of Methuen” and that Buckley does not have the specialized training needed for a public health director’s job.

“The community development director is working three to four hours a day on health issues he doesn’t have the education for,” Atkinson said.

In the East District debate, the candidates, including two incumbents who voted to cut LaGrasse, said the position was not needed.

“It was redundant in the department,” said Councilor Ron Marsan. “We don’t need a director watching a director.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Photos of the Week