, Newburyport, MA

January 23, 2013

Amesbury fall election field begins to shape up

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — Looking ahead to November’s city election, the sitting city councilors have begun to contemplate their political futures and determine whether they will seek re-election.

Most of the councilors are still undecided over their exact plans, but Council Vice President Robert Gilday, District 4 Councilor Bob Lavoie and Councilor At-Large James Kelcourse each announced definitively that they would seek re-election this November and wouldn’t be pursuing bids for higher office.

Kelcourse’s announcement in particular came amid some speculation that he might challenge Mayor Thatcher Kezer in the mayoral election this fall. Kezer has announced he will seek a fifth term,

Kelcourse said he’d like to run for mayor some day, but that now isn’t the right time for him and his family.

“At some point in the future, I’d love to run for the office of mayor, but my focus is running for re-election this year,” Kelcourse said. “My business and my family are my priorities, as is my position as councilor at-large.”

The councilors won’t be able to officially declare their candidacy until nomination papers are available from City Hall this spring, but some are already giving it thought, particularly after Eric Bezanson of Whitehall Road became the first to express his intention to run for councilor at-large.

Kelcourse said he was excited when he heard Bezanson would be running and hopes other residents will follow suit.

“I think we need to have more people like Eric throw their hat out into the race; we need more people getting actively involved in city government,” Kelcourse said.

So far, nobody else has officially tossed their name into the mix, but the remaining councilors indicated they would make a decision in the coming months.

Of the undecideds, Councilor At-Large Allen Neale expressed the most optimism that he will run again. He said yesterday that he had not given it any thought, but said it was “highly likely” that he would seek re-election

Council President Anne Ferguson, District 2 Councilor Christian Scorzoni and District 5 Councilor Joseph McMilleon all said they were undecided over whether or not they would run for re-election, each saying they needed some more time to sort out their positions before making an announcement either way.

Ferguson, who is also a councilor at-large, said she has a number of projects on her plate that she wants to finish up before looking ahead to election season. Scorzoni said his decision would be contingent on how much progress is made on the green energy initiatives that he has been pushing, and McMilleon said he just needs more time to think about what he should do.

Voice mails left for councilors Donna McClure and Derek Kimball seeking comment weren’t returned by press time.

Under Amesbury’s city charter, councilor at-large candidates can be from anywhere in town, while candidates for district councilor can only run to represent the district where they live. There are six districts; each has one councilor.

Similarly, voters can only cast votes in the district council race where they live, but the councilor at-large race will appear on everyone’s ballots. To win election as a councilor at-large, a candidate has to finish in the top three in the race.

City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin said she has not finalized this year’s election schedule, but nomination papers would likely become available to interested candidates by the spring.

Historically, the deadline to submit papers and officially declare candidacy has been early to mid-August, meaning the undecided councilors and their potential opponents still have plenty of time to make up their minds.