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April 2, 2013

Council votes to start solicitor search over

METHUEN — The City Council voted last night to begin another search for a city solicitor after a close vote against appointing one of the two finalists from the recent search.

Councilors voted 5-4 against appointing former Lawrence assistant city solicitor Richard D’Agostino, 58, capping a three-month process several officials said was flawed from the start after one round of interviews violated the state’s open meeting law and the current city solicitor, Peter McQuillan, inserted himself into the process by texting D’Agostino during D’Agostino’s interview before the council last week.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a tainted process,” Councilor Jeanne Pappalardo said in an interview Monday. “That’s my main reason to go for a new search.”

Councilors Pappalardo, Jamie Atkinson, Lisa Ferry, Jennifer Kannan and Ron Marsan voted against hiring D’Agostino. The council did not take a vote on whether to hire the other finalist, former Haverhill assistant city solicitor William Faraci, 65.

Neither candidate had decided whether they would apply again during the new search. “I don’t know,” Faraci said. “I’ll have to talk to some councilors.”

D’Agostino said the decision would be up to the new search committee when it is appointed and decides how to accept applications.

The council voted unanimously to start a new search, form a new committee and scrap the current search committee, which consisted of council Chairman Sean Fountain, Councilors Ferry, Kannan and Tom Ciulla, and local lawyers Arthur Broadhurst and Bryan Chase.

Fountain, who chaired the search committee, said he would take requests from the councilors before appointing a new committee. A new job posting would be ready “hopefully in the next couple of days,” he said.

Councilor Michael Condon said before the vote the two candidates were due a vote for their willingness to endure the search and interview process.

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