hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

August 8, 2013

Hart steps away from council -- for now

Says Michitson's decision to run was key

By Shawn Regan

---- — After 10 years on the City Council, local attorney Michael Hart has decided to take a break, but said he may return to politics in the future.

A former council president and top vote-getter among council candidates in past elections, Hart said he was undecided about running for reelection right up to the July 30 deadline for getting on the ballot. He said Councilor John Michitson’s decision to run for reelection tipped the scales against his running.

“If I thought I could be president again, I probably would have run,” Hart said. “Michitson is probably going to come in first (in the election) because he built a voter base when he ran for mayor. I probably would have run if Michitson didn’t.”

It is customary, but not mandatory, for councilors to elect the leading voter-getter in the election as their president.

Michitson, the top vote-getter in the last council election, was president until he gave it up several months ago for job-related reasons. At the time, Michitson said he received a work promotion that required extensive travel and that he probably would not seek re-election this fall. But as the deadline to get on the ballot neared, Michitson decided to run after all.

As a previous council president, Hart said he especially enjoyed running council meetings, setting agendas and working with former City Clerk Peggy Toomey before meetings to get up to speed on issues to be discussed.

“As president, you are so involved with the issues and the meetings that I’ve found it’s difficult to go back to being a regular member,” Hart said. “And with this being my 10th year on the council, I thought now was a good time to take a break while I still enjoy it. If I decide I miss it, I can come back in two years.”

Hart added he’s feeling great physically and that he will continue working at his Haverhill law practice, but that he intends to play more golf and get back to playing tennis this fall. He said he had to take a break from tennis after shoulder surgery last year.

“It feels great that the people of Haverhill put their confidence in me for 10 years,” Hart said. “That’s very gratifying and an honor I never took for granted.

“I look at this as a self-imposed term limit,” he said of his decision to walk away from the council when his term is finished at the end of the year. “Change is good and I know the council is in good hands with a lot of good people running.”