Greater Lowell Tech School Committee vacancy

Mike Lenzi, one of the Lowell representatives to the Greater Lowell Technical High School, has submitted his formal resignation from that school committee to be effective October 11, 2012. Lenzi, who had purchased a home in Dracut earlier this summer, was expected to resign at some point. Who will succeed him and the method to be used to choose that successor have been the subjects of speculation and discussion for some time.

This week’s Lowell city council packet contains a memo from City Solicitor Christine O’Connor that reviews the procedure which is contained in a 1967 agreement among the member communities (Lowell, Dracut, Tyngsborough and Dunstable) that was codified by the state legislature in Chapter 94 of the Acts of 1967. Here’s the relevant section:

If a vacancy occurs among members elected by the city of Lowell . . . the local school committee members from the said city and the members of the city council, acting jointly, shall appoint a member to serve until the next regular biennial city election, at which election a successor shall be elected to serve for the balance of the unexpired term, if any.

The memo goes on to say that the mechanics of the selection process are not established by the statute although it is clear that the successful candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast by the combined city council and school committee. With nine councilors and six school committee members (you can only count the mayor once), there is a body of 15. A majority of that would be 8 votes.

Mayor Patrick Murphy has filed a motion for this week’s city council meeting that “requests the city council adopt formal process of interviewing and selecting candidates to fill any vacancy on the Greater Lowell Technical High School Committee.”

The last time I recall a mid-term vacancy of a Lowell representative to the Tech School Committee I believe was when John Reid resigned (I haven’t had time to research all the particulars). At that time, two candidates, George O’Hare and Terry Ryan, emerged. As far as I know, there was no formal application procedure. Instead, the two candidates lobbied the city councilors and school committee members on their own. On the night of the selection, the council and school committee all gathered in the council chamber, and each member announced the name of his or her candidate. In that case, O’Hare received a majority on the first ballot and has served on the Tech School Committee ever since.