James Wellock is set to become Lynn's new third assistant city solicitor (Gayla Cawley)

Lynn to Appoint New Assistant City Solicitor

LYNN -- As the city struggles to dig itself out of its financial hole, the law department is set to fill an assistant city solicitor vacancy at a nearly six-figure salary.

Mayor Thomas M. McGee has recommended that the City Council approve his appointment of James Wellock as the third assistant city solicitor, which would bring the law department to a full staff of four attorneys.

"Anything we do, we're always engaging the law department," McGee said. "They're always there for us, but they always need a full staff. It's a position that has to be filled and is necessary to allow the office to do the intensive work they do every day."

Compared to other similar-sized cities such as Lowell and Somerville, McGee said, Lynn has a very small legal team. He said Lowell has about 10 attorneys and Somerville has a similar amount.

If approved, Wellock would be hired at a salary of $98,632.

The Somerville resident was interviewed by the City Council on Tuesday night, with the panel choosing to take no action on the appointment. The city charter requires that the position be laid over for a period of seven to 21 days.

It's likely the City Council will vote on the appointment on Oct. 23.

Wellock has been the second assistant city solicitor for the City of Lowell since 2015 and plans to move to Lynn to satisfy the position's residency requirement. He has already given his notice in Lowell.

"I'm really excited to be joining the team in Lynn," Wellock said. "I think Lynn is charged right now. There's a lot happening in this area."  

Wellock was interviewed on the same night that Michael Bertino, the city's chief financial officer, appeared before the City Council to ask the panel to authorize borrowing $4.5 million to balance the fiscal year 2019 budget through a bailout loan, $500,000 more than anticipated.

The city has already had to borrow $9.5 million to balance its fiscal year 2018 budget through the legislation, a home rule petition that was approved earlier this year by the City Council, state legislature and signed off on by Gov. Charlie Baker. It allowed the city to borrow up to $14 million.

But George Markopoulos, the city solicitor, told the Council the position is needed. It has to be filled and the money is already budgeted for it. In addition, he said the job is not creating a new position, as in past years, there have been a first, second and third assistant solicitor to back up the city solicitor position.

City Council President Darren Cyr said there's been some discussion going on about whether or not to fill the position because of the city's budget issues and financial situation. But he said the city solicitor told him the importance of having an extra body in the law department because of the extra work they're taking on.

Markopoulos moved up to the city solicitor position after Michael Barry retired earlier this year. James Lamanna was subsequently promoted to first assistant city solicitor, replacing Markopoulos. Wellock would round out a department that also includes second assistant city solicitor Rick Vitali and has had a void in the position since January.

If hired, Wellock would be spending a lot of time in court doing litigation, and would also be focusing on quality of life issues, such as following through with enforcement on problem or nuisance houses and seeking fines, according to Markopoulos.

Wellock would serve an initial three-year term before he is up for reappointment.

Before working for the city of Lowell, he was a legislative aide for state Rep. John H. Rogers for three years and a part-time law clerk for a Boston legal firm for a year.

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