Fiorentini Priorities are Ward Representation, Merrimack St. Redevelopment, Consentino School

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini delivers annual State of the City address in 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini says he is not waiting for inauguration day to get started on his top priorities, which include asking the legislature to approve ward councilors and district School Committee members in Haverhill.

Fiorentini told WHAV he wants to “hit the ground running even before the new term begins.”

“I think job one is going to be ward councilors and ward School Committee members. The public voted on this. The people have spoken. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of this so I’m going to be refining a home rule petition and presenting that to the City Council. That’s going to be job one,” he said.

Although electing city councilors by ward has been bandied about for some time, the idea of electing School Committee members by district emerged during a January 2020 forum reported first by WHAV. During the forum, “Exploring the Possibility of Neighborhood Representation,” sponsored by Greater Haverhill Indivisible and Latino Coalition of Haverhill, MassInc’s Ben Forman planted the idea of also electing the School Committee by neighborhood. He pointed to research showing school committees in Gateway Cities do not reflect the same diversity as its student populations. (See earlier story.)

When the School Committee ballot question appeared before the City Council, it inexplicably listed five School Committee districts. Fiorentini acknowledged that while the Council idea is ready to go, the school concept needs more thought.

“I think we need to spend a little more time on the School Committee, determining what the districts will be—whether there’d be five or four or six. I think that requires a little bit more work. I’ll want to meet with school officials, current School Committee members and also with the Latino Coalition,” Fiorentini said.

Next up, the mayor said, is choosing from among five developers to tear down the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck and revamp the former urban renewal parcels. “That could be the most transformative project in the history of the city with hundreds of new jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue,” he said. (See today’s related story.)

Another priority, he said, is “a new or at least totally renovated…and enlarged” Dr. Albert B. Consentino School.

Finally, Fiorentini said he wants to become more “personally involved” with resident requests, adding “helping people is what drives me.”

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