EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 6, 2013

Methuen Council to reorg, might boot lawyer

Fountain may be named chair

METHUEN — City councilors are expected to name Sean Fountain their next chairman tomorrow night, but questions remain regarding the nomination of a vice-chairman and the reappointment of the city solicitor.

Fountain, 40, of Hampshire Road, is poised to take over for current Chairwoman Jennifer Kannan, according to multiple councilors interviewed Friday. He is a first-term councilor representing the city’s West District and works as a firefighter in North Andover.

“If I get the nomination, I’ll definitely take it,” said Fountain. “I welcome the opportunity.”

Councilors on Monday night will elect a new chairman and vice-chairman for 2013. They’ll also decide whether to reappoint for two years City Solicitor Peter McQuillan, City Auditor Thomas Kelly and City Council Clerk Linda Gagnon.

“I think there’s two appointments that are going to go smoothly,” said Councilor Tom Ciulla. “It’s with the city attorney — it’s going to be complicated. ... It’s going to be a difficult vote for everybody.”

Also on the council agenda Monday is a deciding vote on Mayor Stephen Zanni’s IT reorganization plan, which will cap 12 months of planning and debate over whether to privatize the four-employee municipal Information Technology department.

Councilors can nominate any of their colleagues for chairman and vice-chairman.

“I think Sean’s a knowledgeable kid,” said Councilor Ron Marsan. “I think he can control a meeting. ... It’s the chair that runs the show.”

“I think (Fountain) will be fine,” said Pappalardo. “I think he’ll be fair and I’m hoping that he’s going to run the meeting the way it should be run, according to Robert’s Rules of Order and not his own rules.”

On Friday, Councilor-at-large Michael Condon was considered the front-runner for vice-chairman. But several councilors said there are concerns over Condon’s recent meeting attendance — he did not attend a public hearing Thursday on IT privatization and also missed an executive session Dec. 27 where councilors discussed the ongoing lawsuit and settlement talks with police Chief Joseph Solomon.

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