Mayor Jim Fiorentini
Strong Leadership in the Pandemic
This past year was a time that shook the world. In Haverhill, it was a time that brought out the spirit of community and commitment from all of its residents.
Over 8,000 Haverhill people were infected with Covid-19, several hundred were hospitalized, and over 100 Haverhill residents lost their lives. Without any precedent for how to respond to such a catastrophe, Mayor Fiorentini – and good people throughout the City - stepped up and did the tough jobs to keep our community going.
Without hesitation, Jim Fiorentini shifted from normal business to crisis management and within just a few days had all city resources – including residents – working to preserve the City.
Organized Volunteers & Partnerships
Mayor Fiorentini knew the keys to controlling the spread of the disease - before there was vaccine - were testing, contact tracing and isolation. As a result, Haverhill performed at least 100,000 tests of Haverhill residents and employees. Over 7,500 people tested positive, and each time Jim had them followed up with contact tracing by our Public Health Department.
Mayor Fiorentini partnered with the local teacher’s union - the Haverhill Education Association - to form a crew that located PPEs so every nurse and CNA in Haverhill went to work with the proper equipment. Mayor Fiorentini organized a great group of volunteers - including school bus drivers, school monitors and residents - who delivered masks to nursing homes, hospitals and 400 families who had to work away from home but did not have the proper equipment.
All over the city, people and organizations answered Jim’s call for food drives and donations. Before the arrival of CARES Act funding, Mayor Fiorentini created a COVID fund and raised money for food pantries so that no one in Haverhill would go hungry.
When the Federal government released CARES Act money, Mayor Fiorentini made his top two priorities food and shelter, because in addition to hunger, hundreds of Haverhill families were unable to pay their rent. Jim feared an avalanche of evictions would trigger an avalanche of homelessness, and he was determined not to let that happen. Jim pooled City money, Federal block grant money and CARES Act money to provide rent relief and save 276 families from being evicted.
Mayor Fiorentini is very proud of Haverhill’s restaurants and calls them the best restaurant zone north of Boston’s North End. In the past 10 years, city restaurants have doubled from 100 to 200 eateries - employing over 1,000 people. Jim believes keeping these restaurants running is a key element to keeping Haverhill’s economy strong.
Even before the pandemic, Mayor Fiorentini had eliminated red tape to set up one of the best outdoor dining ordinances in the state. During the pandemic, Jim pushed things further. Within days, he had a rapid-response program in place that included online permitting, funding approval, Building and Fire Inspection, Police coverage, and DPW installation of barriers. Mayor Fiorentini expanded the outdoor dining district citywide; provided grants to restaurants, and set up parklets and barriers to expand outdoor dining to virtually all restaurants.
As a result, Mayor Fiorentini assured that all Haverhill restaurants survived.
Distributed Life-Saving Vaccine
When the vaccine became available for Haverhill, Mayor Fiorentini set the goal to have 50% of Haverhill fully vaccinated by July 4, for an historic holiday celebration. And he succeeded!
To accomplish this, Jim formed a Public Health TaskForce that included all of the area’s medical providers. Over 100 Haverhill residents also volunteered - doctors, nurses, retired nurses, EMTs and 20 members of the Fire Department - were trained and ready to vaccinate.
When the state’s sign-up program failed, Mayor Fiorentini set up a Haverhill Help Line that was especially useful for people without computers.
Ten volunteers fielded calls, told people where vaccine was available and if they had no computer, signed them up. This Hot Line team took over 2,700 calls and helped over 1,500 people get vaccinated. The Call Center was an incredible team effort by the Recreation Department, Human Services, the Citizens Center, and the Council on Aging, Recreation & Veterans Services.
Today, almost half of people have been fully innoculated, and the work continues to increase with more children and adults being vaccinated every day.
Protected Our Children
As soon as schools closed and education moved online, Mayor Fiorentini acquired and distributed notebook computers to every child enrolled in Haverhill schools. Jim also knew that if Haverhill children were going to return to in-class learning, he needed to make school buildings safe. He had all school windows inspected and capable of being opened. To meet the new air quality standards under covid, Mayor Fiorentini had every classroom tested and brought up to the new standards. He authorized millions of dollars to check and repair every classroom HVAC system, and had all classrooms ready for children to return by mid-March.
As Mayor Fiorentini said in his March 2021 “State of the City Address”:
“Thanks to the sacrifice and hard work of our citizens, we stand to emerge from this pandemic better and stronger than ever. Because of all of you, the future of our city is bright and the state of our city is strong.”
Jim Fiorentini has the experience, knowledge and commitment to lead Haverhill into a more promising future and deal successfully with whatever challenges occur.