Attorney Joseph C. Edwards.
A candidate who had expressed interest in filling a vacancy on the Haverhill School Committee has withdrawn from consideration out of time for “professional responsibilities.”
Attorney and former Northern Essex Community College Trustee Chairman Joseph C. Edwards submitted a letter dated Sunday to Mayor James J. Fiorentini saying he “will no longer pursue the opening” and will instead support the candidacy of former School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey. Toohey came in fourth for three available school committee seats in November.
“As you may recall I had expressed an interest in serving the vacancy on the Haverhill School Committee,” Edwards wrote to Fiorentini. “However, my professional responsibilities are so fulfilling and require an overwhelming percentage of my time, I have determined that in the best interests of all involved that I will no longer pursue the opening.”
Edwards, who is also chairman of the Haverhill License Commission, had been among several individuals, as reported by WHAV since last Novermber, who have said they would fill the seat if asked. Edwards also said he would “gladly appear” at the next joint meeting of the school committee and city council on Feb. 2 “in support of Mr. Toohey.”
“Tradition seems to support the candidacy of Shaun Toohey to fill the vacancy. I have known Mr. Toohey for many years and find that he is qualified and a man of his word. He will serve the city extremely well if he is appointed and I strongly urge you to support his candidacy for the vacancy,” Edwards added.
Edwards was the first alumni-elected trustee of Northern Essex Community College to be elected by his peers to serve as chairman. He was a college trustee between 2003 and 2013, becoming chairman in 2008. Edwards also served as chairman of the board of Essex Agricultural and Technical Institute for 14 years until its merger in 2014 with North Shore Technical High School. He is also chairman of the Haverhill License Commission, where he has served 15 years—seven as chairman.
The open school committee seat was vacated earlier this month by now-City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua. Besides Toohey, whose re-election bid fell short by 110 votes, those who have submitted resumes to assume the position are Susan D. Danehy, a school committeewoman who did not seek re-election last fall; Raymond J. Sierpina, a retired principal who served on the school committee until losing in 2013 by 683 votes; Deborah Sasso-Flanagan, recently retired dean of Haverhill High Classical Academy; Katrina Hobbs-Everett, unsuccessful city council candidate; and Mikaela Lalumiere, a special education instructor who teachers at Greater Lawrence Technical School.