Mayoral candidate and sitting 20-year School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr., leaves public life at the end of the year after choosing by Monday’s deadline to end his mayoral run.
Wood’s withdrawal, followed by his preliminary election elimination from a Ward 4 School Committee post, represents his precipitous fall since June when allegations resurfaced of racist and misogynist conduct while he was working as a police officer. The revelations came to light in Wood’s own suit against the city, challenging the loss of police jobs in Haverhill in 2021 and Wenham in 2022.
“I look forward to addressing and clearing my name from the baseless accusations and falsehoods that have circulated. My commitment to Haverhill has never wavered, and it never will,” Wood said in a statement.
Wood’s lawsuit made known Haverhill Police Department’s background checks—one dating back to 2013 and another compiled in 2022. WHAV was the first to reveal their contents after filing a public records request with Essex County District Attorney Paul F. Tucker. Wood’s lawsuit doesn’t deny some of the worst allegations—contained in alleged instant messages—but the suit contends “Officer Wood does not recall.”
It is unclear how Wood plans to clear his name since he dropped his state lawsuit against the city in July.
Meanwhile, the city’s Board of Registrars is expected to accept Wood’s withdrawal Tuesday and elevate third place mayoral finisher Guy E. Cooper to the November ballot along with Councilor Melinda E. Barrett. Although Cooper is assured of a ballot spot, he told WHAV Monday, he still plans to go ahead with his recount request. Cooper came in 10 votes behind Wood during last Tuesday’s election.
“The citizens of Haverhill deserve to know there was no fraud in the election. I am going to continue with the recount request to ensure honesty and integrity in the election process and that’s exactly what I plan to do to bring honest and integrity back to the mayor’s office,” Cooper told WHAV.
Haverhill City Clerk Kaitlin M. Wright said any recount will omit Ward 3 since Cooper’s team fell short in gathering enough certified signatures there. Cooper told WHAV the fast turnaround required to gather signatures in every ward left little room for error. He said the changed ward boundaries caused his team to gather signatures by mistake in an adjacent ward.
In her own statement, Barrett said, “No matter who our opponent is, I look forward to continuing the conversation with voters about our vision for Haverhill, my vision and the vision of our residents. That said, I have known Guy Cooper for years and have the utmost respect for him. I trust this will be a civil, issues-based race that will move Haverhill forward.”
Barrett outpolled Wood almost four to one when she garnered 3,891 votes while Wood placed a distant second at 1,036 votes.
After ending his lawsuit, Wood remained controversial by participating in a closed-door School Committee meeting. During that Aug. 24 meeting, he and member Toni Sapienza-Donais were credited as casting “lead yes votes” to drop a suit against the teachers’ union related to last fall’s strike.
In his statement, Wood said of his withdrawal, “This decision has not been taken lightly, but it is one made with the utmost concern for the well-being and unity of our community.” He goes on to say, “I believe in my vision of an affordable and inclusive Haverhill and the qualifications I bring to the table. Nevertheless, it has become apparent that continuing in this race would only escalate the negativity, divisive rhetoric and false allegations that have marred our campaign. The issues that matter most to our residents deserve thoughtful and constructive discussions, not further polarization.”
Wood concluded, “This may be a farewell to the mayoral race, but it is certainly not a goodbye to the community I cherish. I promise you, this is not the end. This is a ‘see you later.’”