SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 8, 2012

Councilor says he won't vote to hire nonresidents

By Bethany Bray STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — SALEM — City Councilor Michael Sosnowski has a new, self-imposed rule: no voting to hire nonresidents for city jobs.

Sosnowski, Salem’s Ward 2 councilor, was the only person to vote against Mayor Kim Driscoll’s recommendation for a new purchasing agent, Whitney Haskell, at the last council meeting.

Sosnowski’s reason? Although well-qualified, Haskell lives in Marblehead.

Sosnowski said he has every confidence in Haskell — “She’s going to be perfect for the job,” he said — but voted against hiring her out of principle.

“In reading her résumé, there’s no question she’s qualified for the position,” Sosnowski said. “... I think Salem is going to be well-served.”

However, Sosnowski said his new personal rule on confirming appointments is: “If you come from Salem, you’re going to get a yes. If you’re not from Salem, you’re going to get a no.”

There is no residency requirement for any position with the city of Salem, according to Jason Silva, chief aide in the mayor’s office.

Driscoll recommended Haskell last month to replace Purchasing Agent Tom Watkins, who left to become purchasing director for the town of Andover.

The position involves overseeing the purchase of all supplies, goods and services for the city, as well as ensuring compliance with city guidelines and state laws regarding purchasing.

Haskell previously worked as a legal analyst in the office of the Massachusetts inspector general, researching and resolving procurement issues.

She has also worked as a law clerk in Lynn District Court and interned at the Salem law firm McGlynn and McGlynn and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

She has a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law. While at the University of Maine, she worked as an extern at the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.

Haskell’s term goes through Feb. 1, 2014. Watkins, who left in August, started as an aide in the mayor’s office in 2006 and was named purchasing agent in 2010.

Sosnowski could not be reached for further comment on Friday. At the council meeting, Sosnowski said he spoke with Haskell beforehand to explain his vote against her.

Several other councilors spoke in favor of Haskell, saying she’s highly qualified.

After the vote was taken, Haskell thanked the mayor and council for her appointment.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.