HAVERHILL — The city could see its first mayoral preliminary election in over a decade now that City Councilor Colin LePage has announced a run for the top office.
LePage will face incumbent Mayor James Fiorentini, who is seeking a record 10th term in office, and political newcomer Guy Cooper, a Haverhill police officer.
Should all three remain in the race, it will trigger a preliminary election on Sept. 14, as only two people can be on the November ballot for mayor under the city's charter.
The last time the city held a preliminary for mayor was in 2007, when Fiorentini — who was seeking his third consecutive term — faced former Mayor James Rurak, longtime Harbormaster William "Red" Slavit, and Sally Cerasuolo-O'Rorke. Fiorentini and Rurak went on to face each other in the November election, which Fiorentini won.
LePage announced his candidacy for mayor of Haverhill late Monday evening, citing his intent to lead the city into a “brighter and better future” by focusing on government transparency, education, infrastructure, and public safety.
LePage announced several weeks ago that he was running for council and was also considering running for mayor. When he returned the necessary amount of signatures to seek a seventh term on the City Council, he requested nomination papers for mayor, and subsequently returned the required number of signatures as well.
"My intention is to withdraw from the council race and inform the city clerk by the Aug. 12 deadline of my intention to run for mayor," he said. "I don't believe I should be on both ballots, even though the city charter may allow me to do that. I plan to make this a topic of discussion at next week's council meeting."
City Clerk Linda Koutoulas said that based on input from outside legal counsel, there is nothing in the city charter or ordinances that prohibits someone from running for two offices at the same time, or from serving in two offices.
Koutoulas said there is also nothing in state law that prohibits a registered voter from running for multiple offices simultaneously.
Voters will go to the polls in Haverhill on Nov. 2 to elect the City Council, three members to the School Committee, and mayor.
In a press release announcing his latest candidacy, LePage said it’s time to move the progress of improvement in Haverhill "further and faster."
"I am ready to lead that effort," he said. "I believe we need swifter decision making on major issues and projects. I believe we need greater government transparency for our taxpayers. I believe we need a mayor who will not allow opportunities to be wasted because of hesitation and indecision."
LePage, who has served as a city councilor for 12 years, also pledged to focus on the “vitally important issue” of diversity, inclusion and equity for all of Haverhill citizens.
A video announcement can be viewed on his new website www.lepage4mayor.com.
LePage says he has forged a reputation during his tenure on the Council as a champion of government transparency and as a relentless questioner of city spending and budget priorities.
He said he is proud of the role he played in the city's replacement of two 33-year-old fire trucks, the appointment of three new health teachers in the middle schools, a Green Community grant award of $315,000 in 2019 and $250,000 every year after, and the implementation of single-stream curbside recycling he says has saved the city over $2 million in waste disposal costs.
“I have never been afraid to challenge and question budget allocations or policy proposals," LePage said. "I have never shied away from digging deeper and seeking answers to tougher questions. As mayor I will lead the charge for government transparency and budget accountability. Haverhill residents work hard for their money, and they should know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and carefully."
LePage has also been an advocate for comprehensive health education in Haverhill schools and has spent hundreds of hours speaking personally with middle and high school students about the importance of taking care of their mental well-being and the perils of drugs.
LePage and his wife Kerrie have two daughters, Stefanie and Killian. Their two sons, Chris and Sean, have passed away. Sean died after being struck by a train in 2009 and Chris died of a drug overdose in 2015.