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Morse to begin search for new city solicitor

Date: 1/25/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Mayor Alex Morse will be launching shortly a formal search for the replacement for City Solicitor Elizabeth Rodriguez-Ross who announced her resignation in a letter to Morse on Jan. 18.

Morse told Reminder Publications that while he has a particular skill set in mind, he does not yet have a candidate for the position.

The mayor said he is looking for "somebody with good communication skills" as well as organizational prowess.

"This is one of the most challenging positions in the city," he explained.

The city solicitor "is the legal mind of the city," Morse added. The solicitor advises the mayor, the City Council and department heads on legal issues.

As such, a city solicitor must not only have considerable legal experience, but also understand the city charter, he added.

The solicitor must also be an able negotiator, Morse said. The city is currently in labor talks with the police and firefighters unions and will also be negotiating with the Department of Public Works employees.

The City Council must confirm Morse's choice, but he does not anticipate any problems there as many councilors believe the mayor should be allowed to pick his own team.

He noted that Rodriguez-Ross was confirmed by a vote to 11 in favor and four opposed.

Rodriguez-Ross will remain on the job until Feb. 1. Attorney Elizabeth White, who works as a city attorney, will become the acting city solicitor on Feb. 4.

Rodriguez-Ross has been the solicitor since Jan. 3, 2012. In her resignation letter, she wrote, "Though this year has had challenges, I am proud of what I've been able to accomplish at the Law Department. I made progress helping other city departments comply with city and state law. I revamped the Law Department's protocols to better track our caseload and improve efficiency of services. I have also saved Holyoke thousands of dollars by maintaining cases in house. I am most proud of my staff at the Law Department and our growth together."

She cited undefined "personal and professional reasons" for the resignation.

Morse said in response, "While I am saddened to see Attorney Rodriguez-Ross resign, I understand and respect this difficult decision she has had to make. There is no doubt in my mind that she has played an invaluable role in the progress made by my administration over the past year, and I cannot thank her enough for her service to our city. The city of Holyoke is lucky to have had such an excellent and qualified attorney on its side, and I have no doubt that she has set the bar high for whoever will take her place. I wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors."

The solicitor must be a resident of Holyoke and is paid a yearly salary upwards of $74,000.

Interested applicants are encouraged to send letters of interest and resumes to: Personnel Administrator, Robert Judge, at City Hall, 536 Dwight St., room 7, Holyoke, MA 01040, by Feb. 8.