Council Candidate Golden Proposes Shift to Ward, At-Large Councilors to Promote ‘A Healthier Democracy’

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Nicholas J. Golden (Courtesy photograph)

Council hopeful Nicholas J. Golden is ready for change in Haverhill—a shift from the current model of government to a mix of ward and at-large councilors, for what he hopes will offer the city a more accessible, healthier democracy, he tells WHAV.

The city’s current form of government, “Plan A,” is one of six “standard” forms of government offered by the state. The city needs not follow such a boilerplate form, but that’s what voters decided Nov. 2, 1965. Two years later, they elected James F. Waldron as the city’s first “strong mayor.” Plan A has served the city longer than any previous charter.

Should Golden earn a seat on Haverhill’s nine-member Council during next Tuesday’s municipal election, he plans to push for a transition to “Plan B”— to benefit residents in all parts of the city. “The size of our city makes running for local office prohibitively difficult for people without many, many hours of free time and access to thousands and thousands of dollars in campaign funds, a challenge that is relatively unique in the Commonwealth,” Golden tells WHAV.

Transitioning to a model that utilizes ward and at-large councilors allows residents to more closely connect with their neighbors, as those councilors would live in the communities they serve.

“Ward councilors are uniquely accountable to residents in their part of the city—if a resident has a pot hole or a broken street light, the buck stops with their specific councilor, while at-large councilors balance with a city-wide view,” said Golden.

Ideally, Golden would like to see a mix of 11 at-large and ward city councilors and a “weak mayor” system with four-year terms.

The Council candidate is not alone in his push to replace Haverhill’s 51-year-old form of government. Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Council candidate Joseph P. Sherlock called for ward councilors during their campaign kickoffs, while City Councilor William J. Macek proposed a review of the overall charter in early August.

Sums up Golden: “Our city is changing, and it is time for our government to change with it.”

Comments are closed.