By: Tom Duggan – August 20, 2013
North Andover firefighter and first term West End Councilor Sean Fountain is seeking a second term on the city council. There are two open seats representing the West End on the city council. There are three candidates seeking the position meaning one of the three will be eliminated in the November municipal elections Fountain, former school committeeman George Kazanjian, and former at-large councilor and school committeeman Kenneth Willette are all seeking to be elected in the West End.
Though only in his first term on the city council, Sean Fountain was elected president of the council. He says he brings a different kind of leadership to the city council and has no problem calling things the way they are.
“I think I have shown over my term that I am not afraid to speak out and represent the residents of Methuen with a strong voice. I am the one councilor who has put the most resolutions forward and proposed changing old ordinances. I believe in progress, and I’ve worked pretty hard to make sure the policies and ordinances in Methuen are up to date for what we need to move the city forward.”
TRYING TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO
Fountain says that he was surprised when he took office two years ago how negative and back-biting Methuen politics is at city hall. He says he doesn’t tolerate what he calls “the insider mentality” when it comes to getting things done.
“Methuen employees, elected officials and board members are very resistance to change and progress,” Fountain said.
“They want to go along with status quo, and I‘m one who thinks things need to be changed. Obviously, we need more voices and more participation out there to move the city forward, but that’s not easy when people inside are doing everything they can to keep everything the same. I think what I was surprised about the most when I first took office was discovering that Methuen is a very cut-throat arena for politics. It’s its’ very unforgiving and dangerous to try and make changes. That’s what you are up against if you want to make change and I am willing to take on that fight but a lot of people get discouraged and you can hardly blame them given what goes on behind the scenes.”
A DIFFERENT TONE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
Fountain says that presently, the conflicts with Chief Solomon and the Methuen Police Department have all but gone away, something he credits the current council with.
“I think the Chief Solomon case is over, finally. I know there is still a contract issue that hasn’t been settled yet, but I am pretty sure that will be resolved shortly. The wounds from the past have healed in that regard, there are new people on the council now and there’s new blood now and we needed to get past that issue. I think we did that. The police department is functioning with pride and dignity and I am proud to see how the police department has developed over my term. This council deserves a lot of credit for that.”
“I think the services that the Methuen Fire Department provides and the outreach they do in the community is beyond what most departments do. They are very involved in community with youth and the elders. They are a tremendous asset and as a firefighter myself I want to make sure they have what they need to protect my family and the families of everyone in Methuen.”
As for the still unresolved city attorney issue, Fountain said that the city currently engages in the services of a private law firm. “We have a private law firm in place now assuming those duties and the council is reposting the city solicitor position, I would say in the next few weeks.”
Asked what he thought was the most important item in the city budget, Fountain said taking care of the seniors.
“I think that obviously the senior center and programs for the elders are fully funded through every budget cycle. That’s an area where we need more funding and need to get more services to the seniors. We need to look out for youth, too. The seniors got us to where we are now and youth are the future we have to look to, so that is my priority in the next budget cycle if I am lucky enough to be reelected.”
“I have worked hard for more programs to help out with the youth commission, youth sports organizations, and I have tried to keep public safety at a funding level that services the city well. I’ve also spent a lot of time on school issues, making sure the schools have adequate funding and the resources they need. If the voters see fit to return me to the council this year, I want to continue doing that.”