By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Two new candidates for City Council have taken out nomination papers, expanding the election field and potentially signaling more contested races in the fall.
Paul Sickorez of 13 Riverfront Drive has pulled nomination papers in District 1, where he will face off against council Vice President Robert Gilday should he choose to run for re-election. Gilday is still undecided.
Then in District 3, David Moavenzadeh of 21 Paige Farm Road has pulled nomination papers of his own to potentially challenge incumbent Donna McClure, who has announced that she will be running but is undecided whether she will run as a candidate for District 3 or for councilor at-large.
Since nomination papers became available in Amesbury last Thursday, 13 candidates have visited City Hall to take papers out and begin gathering signatures, and out of those 13, seven are newcomers while the other six are incumbents.
Not all of the incumbents who have pulled papers have decided they will be running for re-election. Earlier this week, council President Anne Ferguson said that while she has pulled papers, she is still trying to decide whether she has another term left in her, and right now she is leaning toward stepping down.
Ferguson added that she has been discussing the elections with a couple of like-minded individuals and is confident that even if she does decide to retire, at least one or two candidates will step forward in her place.
District 5 Councilor Joseph McMilleon is also still undecided, though he said he took out papers so that he’d be prepared if he did decide to run again.
So far the only contested district race that has been confirmed is in District 4, where incumbent Bob Lavoie will be facing off against newcomer Dan Talbot of 15 Maple St. Both Lavoie and Talbot pulled their papers on the first day they were available and Lavoie has said he is looking forward to an exciting and competitive race.
If McClure ends up making the jump, the councilor at-large field would expand into a contested race as well. Incumbent candidates Jim Kelcourse and Allen Neale have both pulled papers already, along with newcomer Eric Bezanson of 115 Whitehall Road. By city law, the councilor at-large race is a citywide election, with the top three vote-getters earning a spot on the council.
The District 6 race could be contested as well if incumbent Derek Kimball decides to run for re-election. Newcomer David Haraske of 8 Moody St. has already pulled papers, and Kimball said he will make his final decision after the council gets through the busy budget season.
So far the only district where nobody has pulled papers is in District 2, and incumbent Christian Scorzoni said he is still unsure if he will run again.
No new candidates for mayor have stepped forward within the past week. Last week, Ken Gray of 60 Merrimac St., Unit 912 and Jim Thivierge of 106 Friend St. each pulled papers; and while Mayor Thatcher Kezer has not yet pulled papers, he has said on a number of occasions that he will seek a fifth term.
Even though the preliminary election isn’t until Sept. 17, the mayoral candidates have already begun campaigning in earnest. Since announcing his candidacy last week, Gray has reportedly already held more than half a dozen “meet the candidate” events, including one in the Point Shore neighborhood on Wednesday night that was attended by more than 25 people.
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.