By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — Solicitor finalist Richard D’Agostino said he will reapply for the job he was passed over for last month when the City Council scrapped a nearly three-month search to fill Methuen’s top legal post.
“My desire to represent this community has not been diminished,” D’Agostino told The Eagle-Tribune.
The stalled solicitor search was a hot topic at last night’s council meeting, which D’Agostino of Salem, N.H., attended.
Facing a barrage of questions from councilors, Chairman Sean Fountain said D’Agostino and fellow solicitor finalist William Faraci will be invited to reapply for the job when a new search fo applicants kicks off in the coming weeks.
Faraci could not be reached for comment last night. Also free to apply is current Solicitor Peter McQuillan, though Fountain made clear his chances of being hired again.
“Obviously we’re going to encourage (D’Agostino and Faraci) and anyone to apply — including the current solicitor,” said Fountain. “I don’t think there’s going to be a resurrection ... after the problems we’ve had (with McQuillan).”
The search for a new solicitor stalled April 1 following a series of controversies and has yet to pick up again. That night, a motion to appoint D’Agostino to a two-year term as solicitor was defeated 5 to 4.
Last night, Fountain said the council will vote to hire a private law firm on an interim basis before the solicitor search is renewed. If approved, Fountain said the firm will provide “short term” legal coverage after McQuillan steps down.
Fountain announced May 6 that McQuillan would step down as solicitor. A precise departure date for McQuillan has not been determined. When asked last night by City Councilor Lisa Ferry when McQuillan will vacate his post, Fountain said “within the next week or so, I’m hoping.”
Last week, councilors interviewed representatives from the Boston-based municipal law firm Kopelman and Paige, which has offered to provide legal services to the city for $175 per hour.
Last night, D’Agostino offered to provide interim legal services for $125 per hour.
“I’ll be happy to make a presentation,” said D’Agostino, who previously worked in Lawrence as assistant city solicitor before being fired in April 2012 after returning from 16 months of medical leave.
Fountain told councilors he is currently soliciting quotes from several other private firms.
“I’d like to see something in the next week or so,” said Fountain. “Because when the office is vacated, we need coverage.”
Several councilors indicated last night that they want the solicitor hiring process to move faster.
“We should have started right away,” said Councilor Tom Ciulla.
Councilor Ron Marsan volunteered to serve as chairman of a new search committee. He also suggested that the council meet Thursday to interview more private firms so a decision on which one to hire can be made by next week.
“I’d like to move forward,” said Marsan. “I think we’re wasting time here.”
Fountain countered by saying the full council will be involved with the new search instead of a subcommittee.
“I think the best way is to have the whole council involved,” said Fountain.