City Council elects Atkinson to presidency

Just a head’s up.

I am the resident that filed the complaint in 2011 mentioned in the story below.

It seems as soon as the election results were in, phone calls began seeking support for Chair and Vice-chair positions.

Elected officials must follow the open meeting laws and announce this type of round robin meeting but council-elect members fall into a “land that time forgot” category of legal status. They are not ordinary citizens but are not sworn members of any government body.

This allows them to violate laws which they must follow after taking the oath of office. I found that most do not seem to have the ethical fortitude to forego using their unknown status in ways that would and will soon become illegal for them.

I filed a challenge to this activity but the Attorney Generals office declined to use their authority to create a legal status for -elect members of municipal government.


January 7, 2014
City Council elects Atkinson to presidency

By Douglas Moser

METHUEN — Second-term Councilor Jamie Atkinson unanimously won election as president at the new council’s first meeting since being sworn in Saturday afternoon.

Councilor Thomas Ciulla, also starting his second term, was elected unanimously as vice-chairman.

The vote followed nearly two months of jockeying for support that began shortly after the Nov. 5 election between Atkinson and newly-elected Councilor James Jajuga.

Jajuga said after Christmas that he withdrew his name from contention, citing growing business at his consulting firm, Jajuga Associates.

Atkinson promised greater cooperation between the council and Mayor Stephen Zanni. “I’m happy my colleagues have faith in me to lead the City Council,” Atkinson said after the meeting last night. “I think there’s going to be more cooperation between the mayor’s office and the City Council.”

He took the gavel from Councilor Sean Fountain, who served as council president last year and also won his second term in November. Fountain said last night he did not actively solicit votes or support for council president.

“I stayed out of it,” he said after the meeting. “If someone put my name in, then someone put my name in.”

Fountain said he received an opinion in 2011 from Peter McQuillan, then the city solicitor, in response to a resident’s complaint that active campaigning could be a violation of the state open meeting act.

Ciulla said he was honored for the vote, and again said he hoped the council would restart its search for an in-house city solicitor.

“The main reason I voted for Councilor Atkinson is in hopes that we will reopen the city solicitor search,” he said.

The council voted a year ago not to reappoint McQuillan as solicitor, starting a flawed six-month search process that ultimately did not yield a new solicitor. Several councilors said they could not vote for either of the two finalists because of the problems with the search.

Ciulla takes over as vice-chairman from former Councilor Michael Condon, who decided last summer not to run for reelection.

Both Atkinson and Ciulla were the only nominees for their positions.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to


December 27, 2013

Jajuga won’t run for council chair

By Douglas Moser

METHUEN — Councilor-elect James Jajuga pulled his name from consideration for chairman of the City Council next year, leaving two candidates in a potentially close contest.

Jajuga, who was elected to his first term last month, said business at his consultancy has been picking up and he did not feel he could apply the time and attention to chairing the nine-member council. As of now, that leaves councilors Jamie Atkinson and Sean Fountain, who served this year as chairman, lining up votes.

“I’ve been very busy and getting busier and I don’t see a let up, so I can’t devote the time I need to the chairmanship,” Jajuga said yesterday.

Jajuga, who owns Jajuga Associates, had lobbied for support after the election last month, but said yesterday he sent an email to councilors bowing out of the race for chairman. He said he has decided whom to support, but declined to divulge the name.

Atkinson, who will start his second term when the council is inaugurated Jan. 4, said he has reached out to councilors asking for their votes for chairman, though he would not say on the record how many have committed their support.

“I would say I’ve gotten a good response,” he said.

Fountain did not return a phone message seeking comment yesterday.

Atkinson currently has four councilors – Ron Marsan Thomas Ciulla, Daniel Grayton and himself – who have publicly announced their support.

“The only person who has asked for my vote is Councilor Atkinson, and I said I would consider it,” Marsan said. “And I guess I will back him. No one else has asked for my vote.”

Grayton said he was looking for a change of tone from the last two years. “He’s going to be a strong leader. As chairman he’s going to promote respect, civility and debate. It’s something that’s been lacking over the last couple of years,” Grayton said.

Ciulla, who is looking at vice-chairman, also backed Atkinson. “He came to me first,” Ciulla said. “Jimmy dropped out of the race, but the kid has the time, and he wants to open up the search for city solicitor. He sold me on that. I definitely want a city solicitor. That’s probably the most important thing for me.”

Joyce Campagnone has also expressed interest in vice chairman. She did not return a message seeking comment.

“I’m doing very well. I think I’ll be very happy,” Ciulla said. “Hopefully my colleagues will put me in a leadership position.”

Jajuga is a former state senator, retired State Police lieutenant and former state secretary of public safety. He is one of three people, including Greyton and George Kazanjian, joining the council Jan. 4. Fountain, Atkinson, Marsan, Campagnone, Ciulla and Lisa Yarid Ferry won reelection last month.

Ferry and Kazanjian did not return voice messages.

Councilors Michael Condon, Jennifer Kannan and Jeanne Pappalardo did not run for reelection.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to

admin posted at 2014-1-18 Category: Uncategorized

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