By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — The search for a new city lawyer will begin this week after the City Council ousted the man who had oversight of several high profile lawsuits, including those involving police Chief Joseph Solomon.
A motion to reappoint City Solicitor Peter McQuillan was defeated last night by a 5-4 vote of the City Council.
McQuillan has worked as city solicitor since 2005 and makes $113,144 per year. Newly-elected council Chairman Sean Fountain said after the vote that an opening for the position will be posted within a matter of days.
Councilors did not discuss the reasons behind their votes last night. But on Friday, several council members told The Eagle-Tribune they were not happy with McQuillan’s handling of several lengthy lawsuits involving the city, specifically with police Chief Joseph Solomon and former City Solicitor Maurice Lariviere, who McQuillan replaced in 2005 amid a City Hall sexual harassment scandal.
The hiring process for McQuillan’s replacement will be overseen by a council search committee.
McQuillan was up for a two-year reappointment last night along with City Auditor Thomas Kelly and City Council Clerk Linda Gagnon. Their current appointments expire Jan. 15. Kelly and Gagnon were unanimously reappointed.
Voting down a motion to reappoint McQuillan were councilors Fountain, Jennifer Kannan, Lisa Ferry, Jeanne Pappalardo and Tom Ciulla. In favor were Michael Condon, Ron Marsan, Jamie Atkinson and Joyce Campagnone
After the vote, McQuillan thanked the four councilors for their support and said he will continue to perform his duties as city solicitor until his appointment ends “to ensure a smooth transition.”
McQuillan had also served for a short time as Methuen’s solicitor over 30 years ago before Lariviere was hired.
In other news, Fountain was unanimously voted in as council chairman last night. Councilors also elected Condon as vice chairman by an 8-0-1 vote, with Pappalardo voting “present.”
“I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to serve the city in this capacity,” said Fountain. ““I’m grateful that (councilors) have the faith in me to represent them as chairman.”