hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

January 2, 2014

Michitson to lead City Council in 2014 after hiatus

His agenda will include job creation, public safety and opposing ideas from the mayor he doesn't agree with

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — After a 14-month hiatus, John Michitson said he will re-assume the presidency of City Council in the new year.

The top vote-getter among council candidates in the November election, Michitson said he has the support of his colleagues to lead the group again.

An electrical engineer by trade, Michitson resigned the council presidency in October 2012 after taking a new position at the Bedford-based MITRE Corporation that involved a heavy travel schedule, including leaving the country from time to time.

The council elected Robert Scatamacchia to replace Michitson. Scatamacchia, who received the second most votes in the November election, has served as president for the past 12 months.

“I stepped down as president as a precautionary measure because of a required job change, but business travel has been much less than originally thought,” Michitson told The Eagle-Tribune.

Councilors are scheduled to elect their president and vice president at the Jan. 6 inauguration at 10 a.m. in City Hall. The council’s first regular meeting is Jan. 7.

All eight incumbents were re-elected and will be joined by new-comer Melinda Barrett, who finished third in the election and replaces veteran councilor Michael Hart, who did not seek re-election.

Michitson said the “global travel” he experienced the last few years opened his eyes to a “broader perspective” that he plans to use to improve the city.

As president, Michitson said he will continue to support “viable proposals from Mayor James Fiorentini.” Some of those proposals include the mayor’s waterfront zoning initiative aimed at spurring development around the river, as well as worker contracts that reduce health insurance costs, Michitson said.

But Michitson also said he is prepared to reject ideas from the mayor that he does not agree with and push his own economic development and job creation agenda. Michitson run unsuccessfully for mayor against Fiorentini in 2009.

Michitson recently led a competition for new companies that was designed to show that Haverhill welcomes start-ups and manufacturing companies. The winner took home $10,000 and runner-ups received free technology and electronic parts from Lightspeed Manufacturing in Ward Hill.

Michitson helped create a business incubator in the Burgess Business Center downtown, which is currently home to 32 small businesses. He said he is currently working on a grant proposal for a business mentoring center being considered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

“The city of Haverhill needs a diversity of relevant ideas turned into programs and solutions to take Haverhill to the next level,” Michitson said. “The council must build on its success in being proactive thought leaders in the city. We must drive the agenda in 2014-2015 to address public safety, bring industry to Haverhill, update our infrastructure in an efficient and cost-effective manner and support public education.”

In the prior year, Michitson said the council worked well with residents, city workers and Fiorentini to improve the city in many areas.

“The City Council, working with citizens, employees and Mayor Fiorentini, has led action to fight crime in the Mount Washington neighborhood, bring jobs of the future to Haverhill, renovate the stadium, replace fire pumper trucks, light downtown alleys for visitors’ nighttime safety, upgrade Winnekenni park, and increase funding for building maintenance and capital improvements, to name a few,” Michitson said. “We must build on this success as leaders in the city to take Haverhill to the next level.”