Podcast: Haverhill’s Mayoral Candidates Favor Route 97 Fire Station, Share Other Views

Haverhill mayoral candidates appearing in ballot order, from left, City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett and retired Haverhill Police Officer Guy E. Cooper. (Jay Saulnier photographs for WHAV News.)

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Haverhill’s two finalists for mayor approach the city’s problems in different ways, but both agree construction of a new Broadway-area fire station is a top spending priority.

Councilor Melinda E. Barrett and retired Police Officer Guy E. Cooper both took time to visit WHAV’s downtown studios to detail their positions—including capital priorities, taxes and housing costs. Both vie to succeed outgoing, 20-year Mayor James J. Fiorentini during early voting this week and next week’s final election.

Barrett says she has been working behind the scenes to secure land near Interstate 495 for a new fire station.

“A fire station on (Route) 97 will give us a really, incredibly faster call time to Ayers Village and, even, Rocks Village because they could get on the highway there and get down to that other exit,” she said.

Cooper also cited the response time to reach the Methuen border as a concern.

“For the public safety, we definitely need a firehouse up in that Ayers Village area. I do know the response time. From being a police officer, I know the response time up there for the fire department is very difficult, very heavily settled up there now. We really need a full-time fire station up there,” he said.

Asked about their “wish lists” and how they would pay for them, Barrett says she doesn’t have one and warns much of the city’s surplus “is spoken for already.” Cooper says he believes the public is understanding about higher taxes if they can see improvements. Otherwise, he notes, he’d work with a team to find money within the existing budget. Neither candidate identified any specific budget cuts they would make.

Because the mayor also serves as chairperson of the School Committee, each candidate was asked how they might tackle high student absenteeism. Cooper said educators might be more motivated to make school “fun and happy again” by addressing facilities, understaffing and pay. Barrett says the solution involves “actively trying to engage families” on the importance of students attending classes.

When it comes to building more housing to drive down the cost of demand, Barrett points out the nature of capitalism dictates units could be filled by newcomers. As such, new construction doesn’t necessarily help existing residents. She adds the city must also provide public safety and infrastructure for new housing and can’t solve the state’s problem.

Likewise, Cooper said the city must address its water and sewer needs and department staffing before allowing the population to increase. He adds, the city must “take care of what we have now.”

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(Names are listed in ballot order under each campaign)
Barrett, Melinda E.
Cooper, Guy E.
City Council-At Large
Sullivan, Thomas J.
LePage, Colin F.
Simmons, Fred A.
Michitson, John A.
Jordan, Timothy J.
City Council Ward 1
Basiliere, Ralph T.
Veras, Alexander Robert
City Council Ward 2
Sapienza-Donais, Toni
Hobbs Everett, Katrina E.J.
City Council Ward 3
Ferreira, Devan M.
City Council Ward 4
Quimby, Kenneth E.
Lewandowski, Melissa J.
City Council Ward 5
Toohey, Shaun P.
Morales, Michael
City Council Ward 6
McGonagle, Michael S.
Aguilo, Oliver
City Council Ward 7
Rogers, Catherine P.
School Committee-At Large*
Magliocchetti, Paul A.
Rosa, Richard J.
Ryan-Ciardiello, Maura L.
School Committee Ward 1
Diaz, Erica (write-in)
School Committee Ward 2
Sullivan, Gail M.
Sapienza-Donais, Toni
School Committee Ward 3
Dilonex, Liliana
Ferguson, Cheryl A.
School Committee Ward 4
Lalumiere, Mikaela D.
Simmons, Fred A.
School Committee Ward 5
Story, Jill Taylor
Hickey, Lynette
School Committee Ward 6
Pfeil, Chad
Collins, Yonnie
School Committee Ward 7
Grannemann, Thomas W.
Rogers, Hunter Price
* No election in 2023

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