The election of five new city councilors in November 1969 made City Manager Charles Gallagher’s tenure in office uncertain. Gallagher, who had worked for the city for 33 years, was elected City Manager in December 1966 after a long stint as city treasurer. The end came when Gallagher resigned as City Manager on August 11, 1970. City Auditor Leo Morris was made “interim” City Manager pending a formal search and selection process.
An appreciation of Gallagher’s plight appeared in a Lowell Sun column:
[Gallagher] did not boldly push himself into the public eye. He conceived of himself as the instrument by which the broad outline of policy set down by the council would be implemented. With division becoming even more hardened on the council, this became a near impossible task . . .
Five candidates received serious attention during the search process. They were interim manager Morris; James Sullivan, who had been fired as Cambridge City Manager in June 1969; Kenneth Sheehan, the manager of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who had received two votes when Gallagher had been elected; Richard Bowen of Andover who had served as manager in Andover and Porstmouth, NH; and Charles Zettick who was a former Lowell City Planner.
Sullivan was elected City Manager on September 31, 1970 by a five to four vote. Voting for Sullivan were Mayor Richard Howe and councilors Paul Tsongas, Brendan Fleming, Armand LeMay and John Mahoney. Voting for Morris were councilors Leo Farley, Sam Pollard, Ellen Sampson and Phil Shea. Sullivan’s salary was $25,000 plus, for the first time for a manager, the use of a city-owned car.
In an interesting twist, Charles Gallagher was elected to the city council in the next election. He was reelected to the council in 1973 but lost his reelection bid in 1975 and did not again seek public office.