Vargas Says Council Must Play Oversight Role, But Work with Mayor

Haverhill City Councilor-Elect Andy Vargas appeared on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday.

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Haverhill City Councilor-Elect Andy Vargas, appearing on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night, addressed wide-ranging issues from the city council’s role in overseeing the mayor to the proper balance between residential and business taxes.

During his campaign, Vargas promoted better engagement between city hall and various neighborhoods. He explained the reasons for his concern.

“The areas of Haverhill that need the most attention and need the most constituent services are the ones that request it least,” Vargas said. During the campaign, he spoke of creating, what he called, “pop-up city halls” in neighborhoods. He suggested the city council should have some of its meetings away from city hall.

“We’re going to go to your neighborhood. We’re going to be here for you guys. Tell us what you need—we’re going straight to you guys. A lot of folks can’t make it up to city hall on a Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when they have kids, getting their homework ready, getting them ready for school the next day and for work the next day.”

Although he supports changing the city charter to enable ward representation, he said he would temporarily achieve the same goal by calling households and informing them of upcoming agenda items that might impact them.

Separation of Powers

Vargas rejects the premise the city council has largely abrogated its responsibility to oversee the mayor’s office.

“Just because the council is working well with the mayor, I don’t think that means it has let go of some of its ability and oversight,” he said. Vargas does agree, however, the council plays an important role in providing important separation of governmental power.

“I think it absolutely does, and that’s the way our founding fathers envisioned that the most efficient democracy would work and they we would have checks and balances. And I think that ranges from everywhere from the federal to the state to the local level as well.”

When asked why he thinks councilors who have opposed Mayor James J. Fiorentini in the past have lost their seats, Vargas said he believes voters know the difference between respectful disagreement and political grandstanding.

“If you’re just opposing the mayor to get a story or, you know, make some sort of controversy to get your name out there. Sure, maybe you should be punished by the voters,” he explained.

WHAV News will present more of Tim Coco’s Open Mike Show interview with Vargas Thursday. Meanwhile, the entire interview appears with video here.

3 thoughts on “Vargas Says Council Must Play Oversight Role, But Work with Mayor

  1. THe areas that need city services are the ones who request it the least??? Andy are you sure about that? I can tell you for fact I get very little city services in my neighborhood. Lucky to get the street sanded until I have to call, street sweeper maybe once a year….and the list could continue… Part of the solution is my neighbors and myself take matters into our on hands and take pride in our neighborhood.
    Take a look and see what the inner city gets for city services. They don’t have to ask they expect it and get it!! WHere is their civic pride??
    Haverhill is a large city covering several miles. Andy it isn’t just the Acre and Mt Washington area.

  2. Andy, I’m sorry, but you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about!!!

    The majority of councilors are a guaranteed rubber stamp for anything this corrupt tax and spend mayor proposes. Even when the mayor proposes policy that affects their own businesses personally, they still keep their mouths shut for fear of retribution….just ask Melinda Barrett. She’s stated privately that her business has been devastated by the intrusive parking taxes downtown, yet she says absolutely nothing about it publicly. Tim Coco was right….they’d rather keep their mouths shut and get reelected than confront mayor Taxman. And the council isn’t working well with the mayor, they all despise him.

    If you want proof that the city council is a rubber stamp for the mayor look no further than what happen this past month with the community choice energy program the mayor initiated. Not only did he grossly overstate the savings, he SECRETLY incorporated a new fee on homeowners and didn’t even bother informing the city council. Yet, have you heard one word publicly from any of them when they learned about not being informed about that?

    Andy, what are you going to do when you contact the mayor to obtain information about a city issue and he ignores you? What thoughts are going to go through your head after 3~4 attempts and he still refuses to give it to you? Oh, he’ll be nice and say its coming and his people are so busy and make excuse after excuse. But it won’t be coming Andy, no mater how many times you ask. And the next time you ask about another issue, and the time after that, and the time…..You get it, right? You better prepare for it…because it’s coming. Just ask any of your fellow councilors. When it happens make it a public issue. You might as well, because he’s not going to respect you no matter no matter how polite you are.

    Andy, you seem to have the best of intentions and I wish you well. I’m saying this as politely as I can…there is way more about the failed historical policy decisions, political agendas and vendettas, corruption and incompetence of Haverhill’s failing mayor that you don’t know about, then you do. What you need is a mentor. This may sound rude, but that is not ‘my’ intention….Do yourself a favor….find out what you’re talking about before putting yourself in situations like you did here where you’ll be asked questions you know nothing about.