Senate Signs Off on Haverhill Petition to Elect Council and School Committee Mostly by Ward

Haverhill city councilors previously heard resident input during a Citizens Outreach Committee meeting. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Massachusetts Senate Thursday approved Haverhill’s home rule petition, requiring candidates for City Council and School Committee a year from now to run mostly by neighborhood.

The bill, sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Diana DiZoglio, was previously passed by the House after being presented by Rep. Andy X. Vargas in that branch of the legislature.

Legislation calls for the City Council to expand to 11 members with seven city councilors elected by ward with four others elected at-large. The school Committee will have seven ward members, three citywide representatives and the mayor as tiebreaker.

It also reduces School Committee terms from four to two years. Those elected to four-year terms last November, however, are permitted to complete their terms of office.

Haverhill residents voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of ward representation in a non-binding referendum on last November’s ballot.

Recent efforts for changing the charter started in January 2020 by the Latino Coalition and Greater Haverhill Indivisible as a means of ensuring more diverse representation in both bodies. After more than two years of discussion by the City Council, mayor and the public, councilors last March approved sending the city’s petition to the legislature for adoption.

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