Updated: Ryan, Toohey Lose Seats in Election Upset

City Councilor William H. Ryan and School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey.

Incumbent Haverhill City Councilor William H. Ryan and his son-in-law Shaun P. Toohey, school committeeman, both lost their seats in surprising upsets Tuesday night.


Councilor Elect Andy Vargas.

Andy Vargas, a young, first-time candidate, not only won a seat, but was the third highest vote-getter in the city council race, securing 3,830 votes in the unofficial tally. He is the first candidate of Latino origin to win election in Haverhill. (See related story.)

“Well, I just think it is time, you know, for me to move on. I’ve been in office for many, many years, and I think people, you know, sent you a message. You know, maybe its time to move on and put new people in,” said Ryan. He told WHAV he didn’t work very hard this season and probably “should have retired earlier.” Ryan has spent a lifetime in politics, serving as a state representative, a three-term mayor during the 1980s, an elected school committee member and, later, city councilor.

Council President John A. Michitson retained his status as top vote-getter, garnering 4,441 votes. He will likely win re-election as head of the council when members meet in January. When asked by WHAV if he expects to continue as council president, Michitson responded, “I hope so. Yes.”

Councilor Melinda E. Barrett improved her standing compared with two years ago. Winning 3,877 votes, she will likely become council vice president in January should she seek the seat. The vice presidency had been held by Councilor Robert H. Scatamacchia, who did not seek reelection while he defends himself against two counts of larceny over $250, stealing $72,000 in funeral prepayment money and pocketing $200,000 in other business funds.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle moved up from eighth place to fourth place. Meanwhile, School Committeeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua was also successful in winning a city council seat—coming in fifth. Many pundits expected Bevilacqua—who has typically been the highest vote-getter on the school committee—to also top the council race. Rounding out the city council were incumbents Colin F. LePage, Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien, William J. Macek and Thomas J. Sullivan.


Former City Councilor Michael J. Hart.

Former Councilor Michael J. Hart and Ryan came in 10th and 11th respectively in a field reserved for the top nine candidates. Michitson said Ryan’s and Hart’s losses came as a surprise.

“I’m shocked that Bill Ryan and Michael Hart both did not make it. They’re both very good leaders in the city of Haverhill,” said Michitson.

Although he voluntarily left the council several years ago, Hart returned to the public spotlight earlier this year as lawyer for Haverhill Community Television (HCTV). He represented the group in its purchase of a $1 million condominium at the proposed Harbor Place. He was also called in by HCTV after Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini challenged the group’s plan to remove Stanley Colten from its board of directors.

Newcomer Sullivan Finishes First in School Committee Race

Newcomer Gail M. Sullivan became the highest voter-getter in the school committee race, garnering 4,530 votes in her second bid for a seat.

Sullivan came within 51 votes of joining the school committee during the municipal election two years ago. Former Haverhill City Councilor Sven Amirian and incumbent school committee President Scott W. Wood Jr. followed her.

Toohey finished fourth—outside of the three available seats. Toohey could not be reached for comment prior to news deadline.

Haverhill City Council Totals
John A. Michitson* 4,441
Melinda E. Barrett* 3,877
Andy Vargas 3,830
Michael S. McGonagle* 3,741
Joseph J. Bevilacqua 3,623
Colin F. LePage* 3,404
Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien* 3,373
William J. Macek* 3,314
Thomas J. Sullivan* 3,298
Michael J. Hart 3,263
William H. Ryan* 3,097
David E. Hall 2,741
Kenneth E. Quimby 2,445
Katrina Hobbs-Everett 2,087
Fred A. Simmons 1,674
Haverhill School Committee  Totals
Gail M. Sullivan 4,530
Sven A. Amirian 3,656
Scott W. Wood Jr.* 3,613
Shaun P. Toohey* 3,502
Pamela Conte 2,788
Michael Shurman 846

* Denotes incumbent.


5 thoughts on “Updated: Ryan, Toohey Lose Seats in Election Upset

  1. This aspect of the election was probably the only highlight – two cronies gone and a “tax the homeowner more” rejected.

    However, the residents are still in trouble and the financial situation in Haverhill is a joke.

  2. Astonishing. Voters dump two from the Ryan machine . Hart, who tried to convince the council to shift taxes from businesses to homeowners before he got on the council, loses.

  3. “I’m shocked that Bill Ryan and Michael Hart both did not make it. They’re both very good leaders in the city of Haverhill,” said Michitson. –

    The few of us that attended “Candidates Night” hosted by The Haverhill League of Women Voters are not surprised.

    Ryan’s thought processes are still stuck in the 1950’s. His name dropping of certain Sheriffs, compounded with putting everybody in prison was a non-starter. Of course, this doesn’t include the fact of signing off on budgets that continue to harm the Residents of Haverhill by pulling future production forward through deficit spending, and ensuring we will be fee’d and taxed to economic oblivion because people can’t do middle school mathematics is a brilliant strategy. So instead of Receivership, which would be normal for a municipality that can’t pay its bills without legalized Taxpayer theft perpetrated by Rep. Brian Dempsey, more deficit spending it is!

  4. “should have retired earlier.” Said Bill Ryan
    That’s funny, Bill. Getting fired is retiring in your mind?

    How appropriate is it that your swan song is your admission of “not working very hard”? You’ve been going through the motions for years and doing absolutely nothing positive as a councilor and a rubber stamp for the mayor.
    Last night you got what you deserved!!