Analysis: Face of Haverhill Politics to Change with Tuesday Election; Council Upheaval Coming

Pentucket Lake School voting precinct. (WHAV News File photograph.)

No matter the final counts, the face of Haverhill politics changes with tomorrow’s local election. Voters will replace at least a third of the City Council and consider changes to the corner office and school representation.

Long-term change is also on the horizon as voters are asked to completely upend the Council and School Committee with a pair of ballot questions. Even if voters reject electing those bodies by wards or districts, the changes could still be imposed on the city. (See separate story.)

In the mayor’s race, City Council Vice President Colin F. LePage is working to prevent incumbent Mayor James J. Fiorentini from being elected to what would be the latter’s 10th term. LePage’s focus has been on what he deems is the mayor’s reluctance to make necessary investments in public safety and schools and a lack of openness. Fiorentini, in contrast, argues the city’s building renaissance is “no accident” and his stewardship has allowed the city to grow without tax overrides.

With LePage leaving the City Council and Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and William J. Macek not seeking re-election, the legislative body faces its most substantial change in years. Remaining incumbents, as ranked by ballot position, are current City Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilors Timothy J. Jordan, John A. Michitson, Thomas J. Sullivan, Michael S. McGonagle and Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Challengers are Melissa Lewandowski, William Taylor, Catherine Rogers, former School Committee member Shaun P. Toohey, Kenneth Stevenson, Tomas Michel, Dee Jacobs O’Neil, Fred Simmons, Josiah Morrow, Katrina Hobbs-Everett and former Councilor Kenneth E. Quimby.

Although not specifically before voters, there has been much speculation over whether councilors will bring back a tradition of naming the top vote-getter as their president. Two years ago, councilors exercised their collective prerogative of not choosing Bevilacqua as leader.

Garnering much less attention this year has been the School Committee contest between incumbents, Maura Ryan-Ciardiello, Richard J. Rosa and Paul A. Magliocchetti and newcomer Miguel Andres Quinones.

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