Part 1 of 3
In the first of a three-part series of WHAV mayoral interviews in advance of next Tuesday’s Haverhill preliminary election, Mayor James J. Fiorentini spelled out his successes over the past 18 years.
The mayor mentioned his pride in rebuilding roads and sidewalks, adding 20 police officers, fixing every park and playground, developing a new master plan that balances growth with preserving the “beauty of Haverhill” and more.
“We’ve gone from a dilapidated downtown to the new, modern downtown that we have today. We’ve spent millions of dollars fixing our schools. We built a brand-new Hunking School,” Fiorentini noted.
Among his goals should he win re-election are renovating or replacing the Dr. Albert B. Consentino School, spending more on roadways and sidewalks, creating affordable housing and dealing with the resurgence of COVID-19.
“I’m over at a pop-up clinic right now that we’ve put in at the back of Sacred Hearts Church. We’ll be doing more clinics throughout the city. Our goal is to get everybody we possible can vaccinated using voluntary means,” he said.
He said around 68% of the adult population—or 60% overall—are vaccinated, but more people must receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity.
Expanding on his outline of goals, Fiorentini said he wants to fully renovate or replace the new Consentino School without having to ask voters for relief from the tax-limiting law Proposition 2 ½.
“We have enough money set aside in our reserves. We’ve been very careful what we spent over in prior years that’s been controversial, but we haven’t spent every dime. We’ve built up our reserves. I believe we can build a Consentino School—one of the few cities to do it without an override or a debt exclusion,” he said.
The mayor reiterated his campaign theme that Haverhill’s downtown renaissance “didn’t happen by accident.”
“It happened because we had a plan. We made tough decisions in uncertain times and that’s what I’m going to continue to do,” he said.
Asked about the many new apartment projects approved by the City Council, Fiorentini said many will not be built because of the high cost of building materials.
He also reflected on the debt of the former city-owned Hale Hospital, noting it was the largest debt in the history of Massachusetts. Counting pensions and healthcare, the city had to make payments of $8 million a year. He said Haverhill was “hamstrung” over the years, but, one portion of the debt will be paid off this year, while another is set to be retired next year.
Challenger Guy E. Cooper appears live over 97.9 WHAV Friday, at 8:15 a.m., followed by mayoral candidate and City Council Vice President Colin F. LePage at 8:45 a.m.
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