EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 10, 2014

Three finalists announced for city solicitor's job

By Douglas Moser
dmoser@eagletribune.com

---- — METHUEN — Three candidates for city solicitor will interview before the City Council on Wednesday, the finalists out of 27 applications for a position that has been vacant for nearly a year.

All three candidates are municipal attorneys and all three are members of the Massachusetts bar. Two are from the Merrimack Valley area and one works in Delaware. None has deep ties to the city.

“They’re outstanding,” said Councilor Ron Marsan, who led the three-member search committee that mulled through the applications, conducted initial interviews in closed sessions and referred the three finalists to the full council this week. “They all have municipal experience, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

All three candidates will be interviewed individually in an open City Council meeting Wednesday starting at 6 p.m., Marsan said. Each interview will be 45 minutes.

Suzanne Egan is city solicitor in Gloucester, a position she has held since 2008. She earned her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco.

Egan, who lives in Amesbury and serves on the Conservation Commission there, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Daniel McAllister is an assistant city solicitor for Wilmington, Del., where be has worked for six years. But he grew up near Portland, Maine, and earned his law degree from Boston University. He said yesterday he is looking for work in Massachusetts to be closer to family, and thought his experience in Wilmington would fit with Methuen.

“I noticed a lot of the challenges the city is facing now and that the next solicitor will have to face are similar to what I’ve dealt with here in Wilmington,” he said.

Kerry Regan is assistant city solicitor in Lowell, a position she has held since February 2013. According to the city of Lowell’s website, Regan earned her law degree from Harvard University and has prior corporate legal experience.

She could not be reached for comment yesterday.

“I think she’s a very talented attorney, very well versed in municipal law and a good employee for the city,” said Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliot.

Support for any of the candidates is unclear as a significant number of councilors have indicated they want to keep Kopelman and Paige, the Boston firm that currently represents the city. Human Resources Director Anne Randazzo, who also serves as assistant city solicitor, also has represented the city in court recently.

Kopelman and Paige has represented Methuen since July. Several councilors believe the firm would cost less than an in-house solicitor, given the breadth of specialty lawyers the firm has on its roster and given the rising costs of employee benefits like health care and pensions.

Other councilors believe that the firm, which bills by the hour, would cost significantly more than a salaried city solicitor, especially during lawsuits where Kopelman and Paige could still bill for several attorneys at once, depending on the demands of the case.

The last search ended in April 2013 with no solicitor after a flawed process. Two finalists were interviewed. The council voted against hiring one of the finalists, former Lawrence assistant city solicitor Richard D’Agostino, and did not vote on the other, former Haverhill assistant city solicitor William Faraci.

Former city solicitor Peter McQuillan resigned shortly after that, and the council appointed Kopelman and Paige to represent the city.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.