By Bill Cantwell
---- — When Mayor James Fiorentini was asked about the late-developing campaign of challenger Tyler Kimball, Fiorentini said he was happy to have an opponent.
It would give him a forum to talk about what his administration has accomplished during his previous five terms as mayor, he said. He was convinced voters would give him a record sixth term as Haverhill’s leader.
He was right.
In Tuesday’s election, Fiorentini easily defeated Kimball, a write-in candidate who is a Haverhill firefighter and a farmer. Fiorentini received 6,490 votes from the 9,310 total ballots cast. Elections officials said 2,310 write-in votes were cast in the mayor’s race, but it was not immediately known how many Kimball received because those votes must be counted by hand.
Another incumbent did not fare so well on election day. School Committeeman Raymond Sierpina lost his re-election bid, getting bounced from the committee by challenger Maura Ryan-Ciardiello. She finished second to longtime committee member Joseph Bevilacqua, who topped that ticket. Incumbent Paul Magliocchetti finished third and remains on the committee.
The City Council also has a new member. Challenger Melinda Barrett, owner of a downtown deli, won the lone open spot on the council which was vacated by Michael Hart, who did not seek re-election.
Barrett had a strong showing, finishing third behind council veterans John Michitson, who topped that ticket, and Robert Scatamacchia, who was a close second with five fewer votes. Barrett finished ahead of six incumbent councilors.
Two former councilors —David Hall, a retired Haverhill police sergeant, and Kenneth Quimby Jr. — failed in their comeback bids. They finished 10th and 11th respectively. Hall was 210 votes out of ninth place and Quimby finished with 50 votes fewer than Hall.
Both Barrett and Ryan-Ciardiello come from well-known Haverhill families.
Ryan-Ciardiello is the daughter of longtime City Councilor Wiliam Ryan, a fomer Haverhill mayor. She got her political feet wet last year, running unsuccessfully for Governor’s Council.
Barrett is a member of a family that has been in Haverhill for generations. It owned the popular downtown Barrett’s men’s clothing store for decades. The now-closed store is the location of her successful deli on Merrimack Street.
Of Haverhill’s total 41,457 registered voters, 22 percent or 9,310 cast ballots. Elections officials predicted a 25 percent turnout.
Ryan-Ciardiello is teacher by training, but now stays at home with her children.
The other School Committee challenger was Gail Sullivan, a teacher at Northern Essex Community College and the University of New England. She has also been a high school principal, curriculum specialist, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She finished fourth and just out of the running, 52 votes behind third-place finisher Magliocchetti.
Other council challengers who lost their election bids were Fred Simmons, a Haverhill school custodian and head of his workers union who has run unsuccessfully in the past; E. Phillip Brown, a Haverhill High School teacher; Lynne Saben, a local attorney; and Timothy Connors, also a local attorney.