Is there a lot of interest in succeeding Henry? Oh, yeah

July 16, 2009
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By Seth Daniel and Joshua Resnek

The opening in the city clerk’s position won’t remain unplugged for very long if several candidates already jockeying for the position have anything to say about it.

Already, some five candidates have stepped forward either formally or informally.

First in line is Ashley Melnik, who has worked as an assistant city clerk in retiring City Clerk John Henry’s office for six years and as a part-timer there for many years before that.

Henry has been touting Melnik as the most qualified candidate for some time, indicating that she knows the office and its functions, and she is a lifelong Revere resident.

“Ashley is still eager and interested in becoming the city clerk,” said Henry. “She’s very savvy from an information technology point of view and has brought the office into the 21st century. She knows the functions of this office.”

However, she isn’t the only one seeking the job.

A short list of candidates at the moment includes Melnik, City Assessor and local Certified Public Accountant John Verrengia, local Attorney Larry Simeone, City Sealer of Weights and Measures Robert Cronin and even Councillor at-Large Bob Haas.

On the record and publicly, Verrengia has put his name in the mix and has the solid support of Council President Dan Rizzo.

“The only thing I can say at this point is I would like to take a look at it and certainly I would consider myself a candidate at this point,” said Verrengia this week.

Council President Rizzo said he would be beating the drum for Verrengia, whom he said is a lifelong Revere resident, a former ZBA member, a former Chamber of Commerce president and a longtime Sunday school teacher.

“I’m surprised, quite honestly, that I don’t have 10 of my colleagues with that same opinion I have,” said Rizzo. “I’ll put my candidate, John Verrengia, up against anybody. I don’t think any candidate has a lock on it. I will be vociferously voicing my opinion about John Verrengia.”

The longest-serving councillor, George V. Colella, has put his support behind Melnik. He said she is the most qualified and the only one dedicated solely to the job.

“I don’t think it can be anyone who would want to take this job and keep another job as well,” said Colella. “It doesn’t mix, and it won’t happen.”

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, some councillors said there are two other candidates vying for votes.

One of them is Simeone, a local attorney who has been a controversial figure at times in representing developers before city boards. Simeone, who lives in Boxford but is a native of Revere, keeps an office on Broadway and frequently appears before the council and other city boards.

Councillors said he had been “burning up the phone lines” over the last few months. However, he told the Journal that he might not be interested.

“I really have no comment at this time,” Simeone said, adding, “At this point, I can’t tell you if I’m interested in the job or not.”

Nevertheless, there is supposedly a lot of support for Simeone on the council, and most agree that he has five, or perhaps six votes already.

Meanwhile, a late entry into the discussion is Haas, who is said to have been tossing his name around the circuit. It was noted that if he were appointed city clerk soon, he wouldn’t be in the crowded councillor-at-large race this November, eliminating a heavy competitor for those on the council who are seeking an at-large seat.

“Of course I would be interested in the job, but I’m surprised that anyone would say I’m actively seeking the position,” he said this week.

A few councillors said they would drop their current allegiances immediately if Haas were to ask for their vote. One councillor said he would vote for Haas “in a heartbeat”.

Other councillors weren’t satisfied with the process.

Councillor George Rotondo – as has been his mantra – wanted to make the process more professional and less political. He said he would like to hear formal declarations from candidates and he would like to see their resumes. He said he would also like to see the council draw up a job description and a list of qualifications.

“What we’re talking about right now is favoritism,” he said. “It’s not professional. We’re talking about the second most important job in the city, and we’re leaving it up to political favoritism. Until I have all the resumes before me, I will not make a decision. That’s why we need a human resource person at City Hall, like Bob Haas had when he was mayor.”

And speaking of the mayor, he wants to be left out of the process entirely, saying this week that he didn’t want to even talk about Henry’s successor.

“I want nothing to do with the appointment, and I will not get involved in that appointment,” Mayor Thomas Ambrosino said. “As I don’t like the council getting involved in my appointments, I will not get involved in theirs. Whomever they choose, I will work with.”

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