Haverhill City Clerk Plans Primer for Voters, Candidates on Change to Mostly Ward-Based Elections

Kaitlin M. Wright takes the oath of office as Haverhill city clerk. (WHAV News photograph.)

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The Haverhill city clerk’s office wants to help both voters and candidates navigate the city’s new, mostly Ward-based elections of city councilors and School Committee members.

City Clerk Kaitlin M. Wright said her office is hosting two information sessions, giving an overview of the upcoming shift away from all at-large councilors and School Committee members to both ward and at-large representatives. Her office will also present deadlines for those interested in running for office.

Sessions take place Monday, April 10, and Wednesday, April 26, both at 5 p.m., in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers, room 202, in City Hall, 4 Summer St. There will be time for questions-and-answers.

Last August, the state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker approved Haverhill’s home-rule petition that 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 in 2021— Paul A. Magliocchetti, Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello and Richard J. Rosa—are permitted to complete their terms of office at large.

Haverhill’s preliminary election, if needed, takes place Tuesday, Sept. 12, while the final election is Tuesday, Nov. 7. These are in addition to a special election to consider a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion vote to build a replacement Dr. Albert B. Consentino School Tuesday, June. 6.

Haverhill residents voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of ward representation in a non-binding referendum in 2021.

The latest push to change Haverhill’s charter began in January 2020 with a forum by the Latino Coalition and Greater Haverhill Indivisible. Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights, representing the Latino Coalition, followed up later with, what it called, a “demand” letter that stopped just short of threatening outright legal action if the city failed to implement ward-based elections.

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