By Brian Messenger and Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — A former state senator, a 23-year-old political newcomer and six incumbents were among the candidates elected to the City Council last night.
The top vote-getter among 14 council candidates was at-large candidate James Jajuga with 4,984 votes.
Jajuga, 66, who was a Massachusetts state senator from 1991 to 2001, was elected to one of three at-large seats along with incumbent Joyce Campagnone and 23-year-old Daniel Grayton.
Campagnone received 4,773 votes and Grayton 3,422. Also running for at-large seats were Sharon Birchall (3,224 votes) and Robert LeBlanc (1,629 votes).
In the district races, voters re-elected incumbents Jamie Atkinson, Lisa Ferry, Ronald Marsan, Tom Ciulla and Sean Fountain. Fountain was the only incumbent running in the West District, where voters also elected George Kazanjian.
The new council will take office in January and work alongside Mayor Stephen Zanni.
This will be Jajuga’s first time serving on an elected city board. Jajuga was also the state’s secretary of public safety under Gov. Jane Swift from 2001 to 2002. More recently he was president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m grateful to the voters for having placed their faith and confidence in me,” said Jajuga. “I’m going to work hard and work with the mayor and the rest of the City Council to make Methuen a better place to work and live in.”
Grayton secured the final at-large seat by beating Birchall by 198 votes. The youngest council candidate said he first started attending council meetings as a teen.
“I have City Council meetings on cassette tape,” said Grayton. “I was that type of kid. It was something I thought I’d be good at. People agreed.
“I’m going to bring the new ideas and the new perspectives. We’re going to have a positive discussion on the issues.”
Campagnone was elected to her third consecutive term.
“To serve the people of Methuen — that’s my main goal,” said Campagnone. “I’m just happy I can serve the people. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
In the West District, Kazanjian was the top vote-getter with 1,764 votes. Fountain, the incumbent council chairman, earned 1,577 votes. Also running was former councilor, School Committeeman and mayoral candidate Kenneth Willette, who received 1,283 votes.
Kazanjian is a former School Committee member and a current member of the Building Committee overseeing the $98 million high school renovation project. Kazanjian said revisiting the mayor’s failed push for Information Technology privatization will likely be the council’s first issue next year.
“Right off the bat I think it’s going to be the IT privatization,” said Kazanjian. “That’s going to come up, I think, right after we get in. That will be the beginning to start to save money.”
Fountain said one of the top tasks for the council is to improve communication with the mayor’s office. It was a central issue in the council and mayoral race, and Fountain was optimistic communication will improve.
“I think the mayor will be willing to work with the council, and we all need to work together for the common goals of the city,” Fountain said.
In the East District, Marsan earned 1,852 votes and Ciulla 1,589 votes. Also running was former School Committeeman Thomas Firth, who received 1,206 votes.
In the Central District, Ferry earned 1,434 votes and Atkinson 1,238 votes. Long-time Methuen politician Jack Cronin received 934 votes.
Ferry, who credited her victory to door-to-door campaigning, said her top issue will be combating a spike in heroin sales in the Central District.
“It’s absolutely public safety and putting a stop to all the drug dealing, in tandem with finding programs to help people fighting addiction,” said Ferry.
Atkinson praised Ferry and Cronin for a good race.
“I think the result speaks for itself,” said Atkinson. “I’m an independent person and a common sense councilor.”