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Tufts Graduate Sworn In

Tufts Graduate Sworn InNot even a torn knee ligament could stop James Fiorentini’s door-to-door campaign to become the mayor of Haverhill, Mass. Haverhill, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.12.04] James Fiorentini likes to joke that he began and ended his mayoral campaign in the snow. The 56-year old Haverhill city councilor began a marathon door-to-door campaign last year during the snows of March - long before his rival even announced interest in the mayor's office. In November, during the season's first snow, the 1969 Tufts graduate finished his campaign in triumph - winning election as the next Mayor of Haverhill.

"This is what we call the easy part," Fiorentini told the Lawrence Eagle Tribune of his campaign and hard-fought win. "The hard part comes next."

Facing a $4 million budget gap, the new mayor takes office at a challenging time in Haverhill's 174-year history.

"I'm going to need your forgiveness in advance," Fiorentini said during his victory speech. "We're going to need to make some very tough decisions to get us back on track."

Among the Tufts graduate's plans: revitalize the city's downtown area and streamline Haverhill's government.

"Fiorentini, a lawyer who has served on the City Council for the past eight years, is proposing to consolidate and reorganize city departments and negotiate reductions in the city's health insurance costs with employee unions," reported the Tribune. "His economic development plan calls for steering new development away from the city's rural outskirts and into the city center, where he wants to ‘spark a renaissance' through an initiative to redevelop the city's abandoned shoe factories using state and federal grants."

But the Tufts graduate knows he will need a lot of help.

"I've proposed a citizen volunteer corps," he told the Tribune. "I'm going to need all of you to join. We need to put aside our differences and work together - we need everyone rowing in the same direction."

The new mayor should have a lot of support following a marathon campaign that sent him knocking on more than 8,000 doors across the city.

"I don't think I've ever seen anybody work as hard in an election as Jim Fiorentini," former mayor James Waldron told the newspaper.

Using fliers, mailings, a website and his door-to-door approach, Fiorentini blanketed the city. He was on his feet so much that he even tore a ligament in his knee - which resulted in the candidate's only real campaign break.

Outfitted with a brace and two weeks of rest, the Tufts graduate was back pounding the pavement.

"My doctor said, ‘I can get you to November'," Fiorentini joked with the Tribune.

The brace - and the Tufts graduate's campaign - worked, giving Fiorentini a four-to-three margin of victory and his first-ever term as mayor.

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