Informal Poll Shows Support for Filling Seats with Runners Up

Poll results posted as of Friday morning.

School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey explains his qualifications.

School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey explains his qualifications.

Haverhill citizens want future city council and school committee vacancies filled by the runner-up in the most recent election, at least according to informal poll results released by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Citizens taking part in the mayor’s poll voted 124 to 19 as of this morning to fill empty seats “by the runner up in the most recent election.” Of the 19, five said, “The city council and school committee should choose whoever they want,” 11 sought an unnamed option and three abstained. Respondents were asked “Generally, how should vacancies on the school committee and city council be filled?”

Gridlock Thursday night, preventing the election of a school committee president, is being associated with the contentious process that resulted in Shaun P. Toohey being appointed to fill the seat vacated by now-City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Fiorentini, who sent the poll to his newsletter mailing list, also asked two other similar questions. When asked, “Do you agree, or disagree, with the decision to give the vacant seat to the runner up in the most recent election,” 126 of 143 participants said the agree, 14 disagreed and three said they were not sure.

In another question, 119 of 143 people voted to support Fiorentini’s proposal for a city charter change that would give a vacant seat automatically to a “viable” runner-up. A viable candidate, according to the mayor, is “someone who gets a minimum of 30 percent of the vote.”  Fifteen participants opposed a charter amendment, while seven were undecided or “not sure” and two didn’t vote.

“The city of Haverhill just went through a long, and very contentious process, of filling a vacant seat on the school committee. Under our charter, vacant school committee seats are filled by a joint meeting of the city council and the school committee,” the mayor wrote in his introduction to the survey. “Historically, whenever the vacant seat has been filled, it has been filled by the runner up from the most recent election, usually without any fanfare or much debate. This time the vote was close.  By a vote of 8 to 7, the joint committee voted to give the seat to the runner up in the most recent election.  (That is how I voted.)  This survey asks for your opinion on this vacancy and future vacancies,” he added

Toohey, who fell short about 110 votes in last fall’s re-election bid, was appointed Feb. 2 to the vacant school committee seat over former School Committeeman Raymond J. Sierpina.

One thought on “Informal Poll Shows Support for Filling Seats with Runners Up

  1. What happens when there is no clearly identified “viable” candidate?

    Here we go again…it’s absolutely impossible to get the truth up front out of this tyrannical tax and spend mayor. The percentage of the vote should have absolutely NO bearing on the decision. The final result should ALWAYS be determined by VOTES…not some corrupt, manipulative official.