By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — The fall election field is beginning to take shape, as new candidates in multiple City Council districts have emerged to challenge the sitting councilors.
Nomination papers became available at the City Clerk’s office on Thursday morning, and so far seven candidates have pulled papers, signaling their intent to run for office. Out of those seven, four were newcomers while three were incumbents.
Perhaps the most intriguing development came in District 4, where longtime city counselor Bob Lavoie will be challenged by newcomer Daniel Talbot of 15 Maple St.
Lavoie has been a city councilor since 2005 and will be running for his fifth term in office. Reached on his cell yesterday, Lavoie said he wasn’t acquainted with Talbot but was happy that other citizens were getting involved in city politics.
“The council members that I’ve been acquainted with have always encouraged other people to run,” Lavoie said. “I’m happy for the competition, and I’m looking forward to debating with any other candidate who gathers enough signatures.”
The District 6 councilor race has a new entrant, as well. Dave Haraske of 8 Moody St. pulled papers on Thursday, signaling his intent to challenge incumbent Derek Kimball should he run for re-election.
Kimball, who has served two terms on the City Council, said he’s still undecided at this point on whether he will run for re-election. Right now, his focus is on the upcoming budget season, and he hasn’t given the election much thought at this point, he said yesterday.
“I’ll definitely make a decision after the budget, once we’ve worked through the busy season,” Kimball said.
A third candidate entered the mayoral race early this week when local technology executive Ken Gray of 60 Merrimac St., Unit 912 announced he would be challenging Mayor Thatcher Kezer in this fall’s election. Jim Thivierge of 106 Friend St., who has run several times for mayor, announced he would be running once again back in February.
Kezer has not yet pulled nomination papers, but he has said on multiple occasions that he plans to run for a fifth term and is looking forward to a competitive race with Gray and Thivierge.
In the Councilor-At-Large race, councilors Jim Kelcourse and Allen Neale both pulled nomination papers, as expected. Kelcourse announced back in January that he would be seeking re-election, while Neale said at that time he was still undecided but it was “highly likely” he would run again.
Around that same time, newcomer Eric Bezanson of 115 Whitehall Road announced he would be running for at-large city councilor after he attempted to pull nomination papers from the city clerk’s office before they were available. He hadn’t yet as of yesterday afternoon, according to the clerk’s office.
One big question mark at this point is how deep the at-large field will get. City Council President Anne Ferguson has not publicly announced her plans, and more candidates could potentially emerge between now and July’s deadline to pull papers.
District 1 councilor Robert Gilday has previously said he intends to run for re-election, but has not yet pulled papers. District 2 councilor Christian Scorzoni and District 5 councilor Joseph McMilleon both said they were also still undecided as of yesterday, and District 3 councilor Donna McClure could not be reached for comment.
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. There are three at-large councilors.
The deadline to pull nomination papers from the City Clerk’s office is July 26 at 5 p.m., and candidates will have until July 30 at 5 p.m. to turn their papers in to the Board of Registrars for certification of signatures. At least 50 signatures are required for mayoral or councilor at-large candidates and at least 25 signatures for district councilor.