METHUEN — Two city councilors say they felt verbally threatened by local union leader Michael Gagliardi after they voted against his pick for city solicitor, an accusation Gagliardi denied yesterday.
In the weeks leading up to the April 1 vote, councilors Jennifer Kannan and Jamie Atkinson said they were each contacted multiple times over the phone by Gagliardi in an attempt to gain support for solicitor finalist Richard D’Agostino.
A motion to appoint D’Agostino to a two-year term as solicitor was defeated 5-4, with Kannan and Atkinson voting in the majority.
“What he said to me after was, ‘You let your friends down. I’m coming after you,’” said Atkinson, who is running for re-election this fall. “I don’t know what that means. I think it’s undue pressure. It’s not warranted and he’s out of line.”
Kannan intends to challenge Mayor Stephen Zanni’s re-election bid in the November election.
“He told me I was going down,” said Kannan when asked yesterday to describe Gagliardi’s threat. “I can’t understand why a labor leader would be lobbying Methuen city councilors for a non-laborer. It doesn’t make sense.”
Gagliardi is business manager for Laborers International Local 175, which represents 750 employees in 32 cities and towns across the Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Salem, N.H., including about 75 DPW workers and 10 School IT employees in Methuen.
Gagliardi is a Westford resident but works out of the Local 175 office on Union Street. Yesterday, Gagliardi said he contacted at least four councilors — Kannan, Atkinson, Sean Fountain and Tom Ciulla — in an effort to lobby for D’Agostino.
“I think Rick D’Agostino brought to the table what the city of Methuen needed to reunite the community and resolve some of the issues they’re facing,” he said.