AMESBURY — A candidate who was told Wednesday he was on the School Committee, to fill an unexpired term, found out later that day that he wasn’t.
David Haraske ran for a four-year seat on the committee in the fall but came up short at the ballot box. Former committee member Tim Kisieleski was also on the November ballot, but he was running for the District 5 City Council seat.
Kisieleski also ran unopposed for his position and was sworn in as a city councilor Jan. 2. His committee seat is now vacant.
Haraske received 1,231 votes in his School Committee bid and said he received an email from City Clerk Christine Dixon on Wednesday morning informing him that, because he had met the threshold of receiving more than 30% of the vote for the seat, he could be appointed to the vacant committee seat.
“In the City Election on November 5, 2019, you received 1,231 of votes cast, which would make you eligible for the vacant seat,” Dixon wrote. “Please let me know if you are still interested and able to serve. If not, please let me know as soon as possible so the position can be publicly posted and opened to applications.”
Haraske quickly wrote back to Dixon and accepted the position.
“It said they would like to offer me the seat on the School Committee,” Haraske said. “I thought, ‘Great.’”
But Haraske soon received another email from Dixon, who told him he might not have the job after all.
“I am so sorry,” Dixon wrote. “(The city’s law firm, KP Law) contacted me today and said we should be looking at the 2017 election, not 2019, since that’s when Tim was elected.”
Kisieleski ran for his School Committee seat in 2017, and since he won a four-year term, the 2019 election does not affect that outcome, according to Dixon.
Kisieleski also ran unopposed for his seat, and since there were no other candidates who met the 30% threshold, the position will need to be filled through an appointment by the City Council and School Committee.
“It is a complicated situation that I have not seen since I became city clerk” in 2017, Dixon said. “I was initially acting on information that was not complete. But I have heard back from three separate attorneys at KP Law on this matter and I now have a more complete picture and I have to go with what they said.”
Dixon said her office will post the School Committee vacancy and any registered city voter can apply.
“I am really sorry it didn’t work out for (Haraske) and I encourage him to apply,” she said.
Haraske said he would “absolutely” apply for the position.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Haraske said. “But I don’t believe there was any ill intent at work. It was just a misunderstanding. In the end, we have to do this correctly.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.