Should Haverhill Elect Councilors by Ward? Jan. 23 Public Forum Aims to Provide Answers

(WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

Community Spotlight is heard quarter past every hour on 97.9 WHAV. Greater Haverhill nonprofit organizations are invited to submit news of events, fundraising appeals and other community calendar announcements. Click image to use the Submit News Tip form to submit your information.

Changing Haverhill’s charter to include election of city councilors by neighborhood is the focus of an upcoming forum, “Exploring the Possibility of Neighborhood Representation.”

Discussion about electing the majority of the City Council by ward has been growing since speaker Dan McGraw addressed the Council in 2015 on prospective “changes to the city charter with respect to the election of city councilors and ward representation.” The matter picked up steam during recent city electioneering with Mayor James J. Fiorentini referencing it during his campaign kick-off, City Councilor William J. Macek placing it on that body’s agenda and Council candidate Nicholas Golden advocating for the change.

The City of Lowell, settling a federal court case over the voting rights of minorities, also agreed recently to end the practice of electing all of its city councilors and school committee members at large. Instead, under the terms of a consent decree, Lowell will elect all or a majority of elected seats by individual districts prior to the elections of 2021.”

At his re-election kick-off, Fiorentini said 20% of the city’s population is Latino and deserves representation.

“Our City Council and our School Committee no longer represent all of our city and it’s time for ward councilors and I am proud to endorse that here tonight. It’s time to change our charter so that we have people elected in every ward and in every section of our city,” Fiorentini told supporters.

Since adopting the city’s current charter in 1967, all nine councilors are elected to citywide, or “at-large” seats. In communities such as Methuen and Lawrence, by contrast, a majority of members are elected by district, with up to three at-large representatives.

The forum features Fiorentini, Rep. Andy X. Vargas and representatives of Greater Haverhill Indivisible, Latino Coalition of Haverhill, MassInc, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. It takes place Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6-8 p.m., at HC Media Studio 101, 4 Merrimack St., Haverhill.

Comments are closed.