Haverhill Councilors Say Their Goodbyes at Last Meeting for a Third of the Legislative Body

From left, Councilor William J. Macek, Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Colin F. LePage.

It was a night of farewells at Tuesday’s Haverhill City Council meeting—the final meeting for three longtime members.

Recent mayoral candidate and Council Vice President Colin F. LePage, 20-year Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and longest serving Councilor William J. Macek are leaving their positions after deciding this year not to seek additional terms on the City Council.

Macek, who occupied a seat on the council for 26 years, expressed gratitude to those who supported him during that time.

“I want to thank everybody I’ve worked for, everybody who supported me along the road. It has been an honor and a pleasure and I’ve always tried to do my best. I think I’ll show up now and then because I do care about my city and can’t turn it off like a light switch,” he said.

O’Brien, the only female councilor for much of her time in office, thanked voters who looked past her gender in electing her and her fellow councilors who, she said, taught her much over the years.

“I think I have to thank the voters. How they elected a woman 10 times is still a mystery to me. Over the years, there were some councilors that I did not know as well as others but I learned from everybody,” she said.

Meanwhile, LePage, a relative newcomer with 12 years on the Council, thanked the citizens of Haverhill for helping him through some difficult times, including deaths in the family.

“I’ve been here only 24 years but, in my time, it’s become my home and, through some of the toughest times, people up here at this podium, the people out in the audience, have always been there when I needed a shoulder. The city has been there for me and I greatly appreciate that,” he said.

Councilor John A. Michitson expressed the sentiment of his fellow council members.

“Councilor Macek, you were truly the dean of the City Council. Your knowledge of development and zoning is unmatched and cannot be replaced. Councilor Daly O’Brien, you were a true trailblazer as the only woman on the Haverhill City Council for 10 years. Councilor LePage, the budget watchdog, your initiative to help kids in school with mental illness demonstrated that your priorities were on target,” Michitson noted.

Also lauded at last night’s meeting, Council President Melinda E. Barrett who will be stepping down from her leadership position after holding the reins for the past two years. It was a period of pandemic during which time she led the Council through remote and hybrid meetings.

The three vacant seats—a third of the body—will be taken by Melissa J. Lewandowski, Catherine Rogers and Shaun P. Toohey, the highest non-incumbent vote-getters in last November’s election.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan predicted the upheaval among serving councilors might be mirrored after future elections as the city moves toward ward balloting.

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