EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 13, 2013

Push for new solicitor search fails

Interviews for 2 finalists slated for late March

By Brian Messenger

---- — METHUEN — The two remaining finalists for city solicitor will be interviewed in public by the City Council later this month, despite the wishes of three councilors to reopen the search and attract more candidates.

Councilors voted 6-3 last night to proceed with interviews for Richard D’Agostino and William Faraci. The vote capped a 30 minute special meeting that was called after two other finalists — Kerry Anderson and Robin Stein — abruptly dropped out of the running last week.

Council Chairman Sean Fountain said interviewing D’Agostino and Faraci was “the most logical step” moving forward.

“These people have gone through the process,” said Fountain. “They took the time. At least, we should give them the opportunity to interview.”

“Now we’re down to two,” agreed Councilor Michael Condon. “I think the process should continue.”

The search for a new city solicitor was triggered Jan. 7 when councilors voted 5-4 against reappointing Peter McQuillan to a two-year term. McQuillan has served in Methuen’s top legal post since 2005 and will remain on the job until the council names his successor.

Voting in the minority last night and hoping to start the hiring process from scratch were councilors Ron Marsan, Jeanne Pappalardo and Lisa Ferry. All three said the council should choose the city's next solicitor from a field of at least four finalists.

“I’d like to see the process start over,” said Marsan. “I just don’t feel that we’re getting the best for Methuen not having that process served. ... I’d like to see four applicants.”

Pappalardo said the council shouldn’t “settle” on picking from a field of two. She said D’Agostino and Faraci would be welcome to reapply.

“I don’t want to pick from just two people,” said Pappalardo. “I think we should go out for a new search.”

Other councilors, including Condon and Tom Ciulla, said starting the process over wouldn’t be fair to D’Agostino and Faraci. D’Agostino is the former assistant city solicitor in Lawrence and Faraci is the former assistant city solicitor in Haverhill.

“Let’s finish the process,” said Councilor Jennifer Kannan. “(They) didn’t do anything wrong not to be given the second interview.”

Twelve people applied for the city solicitor job, which will pay between $87,390 and $113,144 per year. A search committee made up of councilors Fountain, Ciulla, Kannan and Ferry and local lawyers Arthur Broadhurst and Bryan Chase narrowed the field to four finalists.

Names of the four finalists were made public Feb. 26. But Anderson and Stein abruptly withdrew from consideration just days later.

Anderson works in labor relations for the city of Boston, but was recently hired for a new job, councilors said Monday. Stein, who works as assistant city solicitor for the city of Salem, Mass., withdrew her application in a brief email to the search committee.