On Farm Commission, Haverhill Mayor Ends One Rivalry While Possibly Starting Another

Mayor James J. Fiorentini during a June 11, 2019 City Council meeting. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The first two appointments to Haverhill’s new Agricultural Commission appear to resolve one old rivalry, while perhaps creating a new one.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini boasted Tuesday that he has named former firefighter and mayoral rival Tyler Kimball to lead a new Agricultural Commission. However, his appointment of Maura Bailey, a local lawyer and former assistant district attorney, has gone haywire. Councilor Timothy J. Jordan said Bailey has actually opposed right-to-farm bylaws and ordinances.

“We got letters from her saying she is in opposition to that. I think her opening line was ‘tread very carefully with us.’ She listed some things on there that I am hearing from some people—a lot of the comments she made are factually inaccurate as far as her reasoning for objecting to that. So that’s the controversy as far as her potentially being appointed,” Jordan said.

That Bailey isn’t a farmer is exactly why she was appointed. Fiorentini explained, “One of the purposes of this Commission is to encourage better communication between farmers and their neighbors…I know of no better way to do this than to have a farm neighbor on the commission.”

The mayor’s appointments do not require confirmation from the City Council. Jordan says the mayor should have at least sought input from farmers before making appointments.

“What is upsetting some other people beyond just Mrs. Bailey’s appointment is the idea that the mayor is appointing a couple of people who haven’t been to any of these meetings. He didn’t even put out a call for people to get their names in for consideration,” he said.

Kimball, who raises cattle and other animals at his 200-acre family farm at 791 East Broadway, ran for mayor against Fiorentini in 2013. The mayor said he isn’t holding a grudge.

“One of the purposes of the Agricultural Commission is to encourage communication between farmers and their neighbors,” Fiorentini said. “Tyler has a lot of experience dealing with and cooperating with his neighbors and will be ideal as chairman.”

Kimball also is committed to working with the mayor. According to a statement, he said, “I have come to believe that Mayor Fiorentini listens and is fair and is willing to compromise and work with people who want to work with him.”

Back in October, Devan Ferreira, of Haverhill Friends of Agriculture, suggested the commission. She told councilors farmland is being threatened by development, and an agricultural commission would work with other communities to obtain guidance, mediate disputes between farms and neighbors and suggest regulatory changes to help farms thrive.

The mayor said he welcomes other applicants who wish to serve on the Commission. Those interested may call 978-374-2300 or email a resume and a brief letter to [email protected].

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