Wood decides against Statehouse run | Haverhill news

HAVERHILL — The special election field to replace former state Rep. Brian Dempsey will feature at least four candidates, but one veteran city politician is calling off a run.

Ahead of the Aug. 29 deadline to get papers and signatures certified for the race, School Committeeman Scott Wood announced Wednesday that he has decided not to run for the 3rd Essex District seat in the House of Representatives.

Eva Montibello, a consultant and CEO of Speaking Out Safely, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse, domestic violence and bullying, has also taken out papers to run for the Democratic nomination in the race’s Oct. 10 primary, joining Wood’s School Committee colleague Paul Magliocchetti and City Councilor Andy Vargas.

Shaun Toohey, Wood’s staunchest political ally on the School Committee, is the lone candidate who has taken out papers for the Republican nomination.

The deadline for prospective state representative candidates to submit nomination papers with the signatures of 150 registered city voters to City Clerk Linda Koutoulas for certification is Tuesday, Aug. 29. The deadline to file certified nomination papers with the secretary of state’s office is Sept. 5.

Citing the health of his mother, Cheryl, who underwent a recent surgical procedure, Wood said he will be looking to assist her in her extended rehabilitation and on his work with the School Committee, where he has sat for nearly 14 years since his election at age 19 in 2003.

Then a student at Fisher College in Boston, Wood remains the youngest person ever to win election to municipal office in Haverhill, a year younger than Dempsey was in 1987 when he won his first term on the City Council.

“I am deeply proud of what our public schools have achieved and the leadership I have been able to offer to bring about positive change and real progress,” he said. “However, my first priorities always have to be my family and loved ones.

“My place, very simply, is with my family and particularly with my mother during this difficult time,” said Wood, adding that the thoughts and prayers of city residents have given him much strength during all of this, and have left him “humbled and grateful to call Haverhill my home.”

Shortly after Dempsey announced he was resigning from the Legislature and his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee to accept a lobbying position with ML Strategies, Wood said he was mulling a potential run for Dempsey’s seat, the only House seat located entirely within the city of Haverhill.

On Wednesday, Wood stated that Dempsey’s shoes will be “almost impossible to fill.”

“He gave his all to serving our community, and as I thought about running, I knew that I simply couldn’t give a state representative race the dedication it deserved,” said Wood. “Elections come and go, and this time I have to stand this one out in order to do all that I can to help my mother and family through this particularly tough time.”

While a close political ally of Toohey, Wood was noncommittal Wednesday when asked whether he had decided on an endorsement leading into the Oct. 10 primary.

“I will see who all the candidates are after the deadline,” said Wood.

Follow Peter Francis on Twitter @PeterMFrancis