Some voters may have participated in early voting or sent in absentee ballots by mail, but the vast majority of Haverhill voters are turning out at the polls today to decide which two of three candidates for mayor should go on to November’s ballot.
Nine-term Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, already the city’s longest-serving chief executive, seeks another term, while challengers Colin F. LePage, the City Council’s vice president, and Patrolman Guy E. Cooper seek a chance to lead from City Hall’s corner office.
During a series of live, on-air interviews over 97.9 WHAV, all three spelled out why their approaches are best for the city.
The mayor, who drew first place on the ballot, is campaigning, on what he calls his successes over the past 18 years. He says, for example, 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.
Fiorentini also cites such accomplishments as rebuilding roads and sidewalks, adding 20 police officers, fixing every park and playground and developing a new master plan that balances growth with preserving the “beauty of Haverhill” and more.
Next up on the preliminary ballot, LePage argues the issue isn’t what Haverhill has, but rather what it has missed out on. He said residents have missed out because of the administration’s slow decision making on major issues and projects and greater financial transparency.
“What I’m looking to do is, from what I’ve done on the City Council and I’ve kind of been known to look at the budget quite thoroughly and found there’s been some things that have been missing as far as what taxpayers pay for and as far as the services they could receive,” he said.
LePage said he found more than $2 million that either wasn’t collected or was left in obscure accounts that can help the city make progress. He also fought with his colleagues to successfully replace both of the city’s oldest fire trucks.
Cooper said his top three priorities are education, public safety and helping businesses “get back up on their feet again” after closings related to the coronavirus. He added his 24 years of experience as a police officer as made him aware of public safety deficiencies. He noted, for example, the need for more firefighters as well as the new trucks and basic equipment they need.
“No one should wait on that. We should get the equipment and we should have what we need so we can help service the citizens of Haverhill,” he said.
Beyond these issues, Cooper called for a plan to address homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, gangs and housing.
Polls are open 7 a.m.- 8 p.m. Secretary of State William F. Galvin warned Monday that those residents who haven’t mailed in absentee ballots, must vote in person or deliver them to city drop boxes or City Hall to be counted.