NEWBURYPORT — Ward 4 Councilor Charles Tontar announced his bid for councilor at-large this week, opening up the race for Ward 4 councilor in the November election.
In an email to The Daily News, Tontar, who has been the Ward 4 councilor for six years, said he recently retired from his job as an economics professor and has decided to use his extra time to represent more of the city's residents.
Using his teaching career and six-year tenure as chair of the council's Budget and Finance Committee as examples, Tontar said being an at-large councilor would give him more of an opportunity to bring his "unique perspective" to various city projects and fiscal issues.
"As an at-large councillor, I believe I can more effectively voice an important economic and fiscal perspective on these issues as we work to find the best possible outcome for current and future residents of Newburyport," Tontar said in the email.
So far, three challengers have pulled nomination papers for Tontar's seat in Ward 4: Clete Kijek, 12 Walnut St.; Paul C. O'Brien, 483B Merrimac St.; and Christine Elizabeth Wallace, 474 Merrimac St.
Those who have also pulled papers to run for councilor at-large are incumbents Barry Connell, Joseph Devlin, Afroz Khan and Bruce Vogel, and challengers Robert Germinara, Paul C. O'Brien and Byron J. Lane.
Councilor at-large Gregory Earls did not return phone calls Thursday on whether he plans to seek re-election.
Earlier this month, Ward 5 Councilor Larry Giunta and Ward 6 Councilor Thomas O'Brien announced they would not run for re-election in November.
In Ward 5, Anthony J. Pettigrew of 1 Lavalley Lane and James J. McCauley of 27 Storeybrook Drive have pulled nomination papers to run for Giunta's seat.
In Ward 6, the race for O'Brien's seat so far includes Sarah Hall of 8 Arthur Welch Drive, Mary E. Zinck of 6 Laurel Road and Byron J. Lane of 14 Hart Road.
Papers have been pulled by all of the remaining incumbent ward councilors: Sharif Zeid (Ward 1), Jared Eigerman (Ward 2), Heather Shand (Ward 3).
Nomination papers are available in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 60 Pleasant St. Candidates must obtain signatures of 50 registered Newburyport voters and return them by Tuesday at 5 p.m. for certification by the clerk.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.