Year-in-Review: Haverhill Voters Largely Keep the Status Quo; Donais Only Upset of Election

Haverhill School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais filing in 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Despite numerous calls for change, Haverhill voters in November welcomed only one newcomer to office—Toni Sapienza-Donais to the Haverhill School Committee.

Donais edged out incumbent Sven A. Amirian by just 65 votes. She surprised many in July when she turned down the job of principal at Walnut Square School as part of Haverhill Public Schools’ new “rightsizing” plan.

“After 40 years in education, I just feel like I’ve walked the walk and I’m very excited to be on the other side and get into the policies and hopefully make a difference on the School Committee,” she said.

Leadership of several Haverhill Schools, including Walnut Square, shifted in the fall, as Superintendent Margaret Marotta implemented her plan to ease classroom overcrowding. Greenleaf, a school whose kindergarten was previously supervised by Donais, was repurposed as Haverhill Alternative School—later renamed Greenleaf Academy.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini overtook Haverhill Police Officer Daniel S. Trocki 6,503-4,785 in the race for the city’s top job.

City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

In the race for Haverhill City Council, incumbent Joseph J. Bevilacqua came out on top with 6,029 votes. Bevilacqua, however, soon realized his colleagues were unlikely to maintain a 50-year-tradition of naming the top vote-getter Council president. Instead, that job is rumored to go to Councilor Melinda E. Barrett.

Joining Bevilacqua on the nine-member Council were incumbents John A. Michitson (5,507), Barrett (5,374), Colin F. LePage (4,962), Thomas J. Sullivan (4,869), Timothy J. Jordan (4,756), Michael S. McGonagle (4,643), Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien (4,570) and William J. Macek (4,444).

Besides Donais, voters backed School Committee incumbents Gail M. Sullivan and Scott W. Wood Jr.

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