By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — The race to be the next City Council chairman is already underway.
According to James Jajuga, who topped the ticket among 14 candidates and will join the council in January, the jockeying for position began less than 24 hours after the polls closed last Tuesday.
“I can’t believe it happened that fast,” said Jajuga. “Can we catch our breath a little bit? But I guess that’s the way it works.”
Jajuga said he received a call seeking support for the chairmanship late Wednesday morning from one of the nine victorious council candidates. Jajuga would not say on the record which candidate called him.
“I said I couldn’t commit because I was thinking about being a candidate myself,” said Jajuga. “That was it. That was the end of the discussion.”
In addition to Jajuga, The Eagle-Tribune has learned that incumbents Sean Fountain, Jamie Atkinson and Joyce Campagnone have expressed interest. Councilors elect a chairman and vice-chairman every year.
Currently, Fountain is chairman and Councilor Michael Condon — who did not seek reelection — is vice-chairman. In 2012, Councilor Jennifer Kannan served as chairwoman and Councilor Joyce Campagnone served as vice-chairwoman.
Under his leadership, Fountain said all councilors have had equal access to information regarding city business.
“If I’m nominated, I’ll definitely consider it,” said Fountain. “I think I’m an effective voice. I think I’m a strong voice.”
Atkinson pointed to the experience he’s gained after two years on the council.
“I think my background and my leadership ability show I’d make a good candidate to be chairman,” said Atkinson. “We’re still seven weeks away until we get sworn in. It’s still early.”
Campagnone could not be reached for comment.
Jajuga pointed to his experience as a state senator, particularly his time as chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
“I wouldn’t be seeking it if I couldn’t do a good job,” said Jajuga. “I have extensive experience in the Legislature.”
Jajuga will be one of three new members to join the council. Also winning election Tuesday were challengers Daniel Grayton and George Kazanjian and incumbents Fountain, Atkinson, Campagnone, Lisa Ferry, Tom Ciulla and Ron Marsan.
Leaving the council at the end of the year are incumbents Kannan, Condon and Jeanne Pappalardo.