As state Sen. Steven Baddour was making his final remarks to colleagues yesterday, the race to replace him began heating up.
Baddour, a Democrat from Methuen representing the First Essex Senatorial District for the past decade, announced Monday that he was resigning in the middle of his sixth, two-year term to take a job with an international law firm. His final day is Monday.
Three people have taken out nomination papers to run for the seat, which represents Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, Merrimac, Haverhill, Methuen and part of North Andover.
Amesbury City Councilor Jim Kelcourse, unenrolled; Haverhill School Committee member Shaun Toohey, a Republican; and Democrat Sean Fountain, a member of the Methuen City Council, have all taken out papers, according to Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State Tom Galvin.
Candidates need to gather 300 signatures by May 1 to get on the fall ballot. So far, no special election has been planned.
Yesterday, Kelcourse said he is "90 to 95 percent sure" he will run for the seat and that as he goes around collecting signatures and talking to people in the district, he will make up his mind once and for all.
"I think I'll get a lot of support," he said, noting that he is running as an unenrolled candidate because "I find good in both parties ... People are looking for a good candidate who is representative of them, so I think it (running unenrolled) will work."
Kelcourse, 38, of 50 Monroe St., is a lawyer with a solo practice in Newburyport; he is in his second term as a city councilor. His family runs Larry's Marina. He is a graduate of Amesbury High School, where he was a football standout and went to Villanova University on an athletic scholarship. He later graduated with a law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law.