EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 9, 2013

Councilor seeks new solicitor search

By Brian Messenger

---- — METHUEN — A bid to restart the stalled search for Methuen’s next solicitor was defeated by the City Council last month, but one councilor wants to revisit the vote tomorrow night.

“I’d like to bring it up again and go out for a search,” said Councilor Joyce Campagnone.

Campagnone is proposing a request to reconsider a June 6 vote against a resolution put forth by councilors Jamie Atkinson and Ron Marsan. In their resolution, Atkinson and Marsan sought to start the solicitor hiring process over by forming a new search committee and establishing specific “search guidelines and parameters” as well as a detailed step-by-step timeline.

Only Atkinson, Marsan and Jeanne Pappalardo voted in favor of the resolution. Yesterday, Campagnone said she voted against it because, at the time, she still felt there was a “possibility” then-Solicitor Peter McQuillan could keep his job.

“There isn’t so we have to move on,” said Campagnone.

If council rules allow it, Campagnone said she wants to vote on the resolution a second time Wednesday. If it is approved, councilors would restart the search for McQuillan’s replacement.

“I’m glad someone had a change of heart,” Marsan said yesterday. “A person sitting in the solicitor’s office is what we need.”

The solicitor hiring process stalled April 1 following a series of controversies and has yet to pick up again. That night, a motion to appoint finalist Richard D’Agostino to a two-year term as solicitor was defeated 5 to 4.

In May, the council voted to hire private municipal law firm Kopelman and Paige to assume the duties of solicitor. Firm representatives and Mayor Stephen Zanni finalized a service contract last week.

McQuillan retained his job as Methuen’s top lawyer until June 30. His departure ended months of controversy that began Jan. 7, when councilors voted against reappointing him to a two-year term.

Yesterday, Atkinson said politics have played a role in the solicitor search delay and may continue to do so. Atkinson said some councilors want to “pass the buck” and put off the search until after the municipal election in November.

“I think some people are more worried about getting reelected than restarting the search,” said Atkinson. “The process was flawed. They don’t want it brought up again.”