HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini won a record ninth term in office Tuesday night, winning 23 of 24 precincts to defeat lone challenger Dan Trocki by a vote of 6,503 to 4,785.
Fiorentini, who first took office in 2004, said he never envisioned a political tenure like this.
“In my first term in office, I made some controversial decisions and never thought I’d get re-elected,” he said. “This is phenomenal.”
Touting the “great progress we have made” during his tenure, he pointed out that under his administration $250 million have been invested in the downtown and many of the old factories have been transformed into apartments.
A vacant, historic shoe manufacturing building at 98 Essex St. recently celebrated its grand opening, boasting 62 affordable and workforce apartments connected to a parking garage.
Tuesday night’s victory, he said, was a sign for this work to continue.
“I won by a pretty big margin, and yet I don’t think it’s a victory. Rather I think it’s a mandate to grow our city,” Fiorentini said after the election. “We’ll be unveiling a draft of our new master plan in a few weeks. I also think that this is a mandate to keep Haverhill affordable and not taxed to the max.”
Fiorentini took a jab at negative campaigning.
“I said in speech that when they knocked us on social media, we knocked on doors,” he said, praising his field organizers.
“We knocked on 3,000 doors and handed out thousands of pieces of literature. Tonight it was clear what works,” he continued. “The scare tactics by one of the city unions and their negative practices on social media didn’t work. Let’s make sure the negativity that’s on the national level doesn’t creep down to our city.”
During their lone debate, the two mayoral candidates agreed Haverhill should have ward councilors to represent each part of the city. Currently all nine city councilors are elected at-large.
Fiorentini said residents often “don’t know who to call” if they have a problem in their neighborhood.
“Everybody should have a say,” he said.
A councilor from one section of the city might not be as familiar with the problems facing another neighborhood as someone who lives there, he suggested.
Fiorentini’s challenger, Trocki, is a 12-year veteran of the Haverhill Police Department. He has served as former president of the Haverhill Police Relief Association and currently serves as the vice president of the Haverhill Police Patrolman’s Association.
Citing public safety as the biggest risk to the area, Trocki blamed the increase in gang violence over the past seven years to inaction of the current administration.
“You can’t ignore a problem and think it will go away,” Trocki said. “You have to be proactive and face the issues head-on.”
Fiorentini counted 26 new police officers added to the city force. Trocki countered that the department is still understaffed.
Utilizing his police background, Trocki claimed he could make neighborhoods safer for children.
He also supported building two new schools to replace the Consentino and Whittier Middle Schools, saying they hadn’t been properly maintained and presented a health and safety risk to students.