Sapienza-Donais First Incumbent Haverhill School Committee Member to Seek Ward Seat

Haverhill School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais filing in 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

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Incumbent Haverhill School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais says she will seek re-election as a candidate representing Ward 2.

She is the first elected at-large incumbent to choose a neighborhood candidacy in Haverhill’s new mostly ward-based electoral system. Sapienza-Donais was first elected to a four-year term in 2020, but all of Haverhill’s elected officials now have two-year terms under Haverhill’s home-rule petition approved last year by the legislature.

“The intensity and complexity of issues our school committee face today have drastically changed since COVID-19 with remote learning, climbing rates of social-emotional issues, attendance concerns, as well as overcrowding in some of our schools which at times seemed overwhelmingly daunting.  I looked at each issue with the best interest of our students in mind and worked tirelessly to ensure all of our students are getting the educational experiences they deserve,” she says in a statement.

As WHAV reported first this week, Sapienza-Donais joins two first-time candidates who have chosen to seek election to the School Committee this year. They are Lynette Hickey and Jill Story, who are both seeking to represent Ward 5.

No candidate is official until they take out nomination papers from the Haverhill city clerk’s office. Nomination papers will be available in the spring.

Sapienza-Donais describes herself as “a lifelong resident of our wonderful city, a fellow Hillie and a parent of three children who are also alums of Haverhill Public Schools.” She adds she has 40 years of education experience—37 as a Haverhill teacher and administrator.

“Education runs in my blood as my father, Tony Sapienza, was a math teacher and math supervisor in Haverhill for almost 30 years until his untimely death in 1987. Many also knew him as a beloved track coach at Haverhill High School.  My daughter Jenn Donais, is a STEM coach in Amesbury and won the 2016 Presidential Award for excellence in math teaching,” she says.

This will be an especially complex voting season for Haverhill with new ward-based City Council and School Committee seats; preliminary election, if needed, Tuesday, Sept. 12; final election Tuesday, Nov. 7; and special election to consider a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion vote to build a replacement Dr. Albert B. Consentino School Tuesday, June. 6.

The City Council expands to 11 members with seven city councilors elected by ward and four others elected at-large. The School Committee will have seven ward members, three citywide representatives and the mayor as tiebreaker. Those elected to four-year terms in 2021— Paul A. Magliocchetti, Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello and Richard J. Rosa—are permitted to complete their terms of office at large.

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

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