By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — School Committee may be the race to watch this fall, as eight residents have pulled papers to run for three seats.
Yesterday was the final day to take out papers to run for office in Salem. Candidates must return their papers to City Hall, with the required number of signatures, by 5 p.m. Tuesday to make it onto the ballot.
Multi-candidate races are also taking shape for all but three City Council positions, with eight people vying for four at-large seats. Just three councilors are unopposed: Todd Siegel in Ward 3, Josh Turiel in Ward 5 and Joseph O’Keefe in Ward 7.
The School Committee has attracted the biggest field, with three seats up for election and eight possible candidates.
Incumbents Janet Crane, Lisa Lavoie and Brendan Walsh are all seeking re-election. Five residents have pulled papers to challenge them: Patrick Schultz, owner of Howling Wolf Taqueria on Lafayette Street and a former Salem High School teacher; Rachel Hunt, head of the Salem Academy Charter School; Katherine Casiglia, a dental hygienist and Saltonstall School parent; Richard Johnson, an editor and Saltonstall parent; and perennial candidate Kenneth Sawicki.
A preliminary election will be held Sept. 17 to narrow the number of candidates to two for each seat up for election.
The crowded School Committee race comes on the heels of the controversial vote the board took earlier this month to end Saltonstall’s extended-year calendar. Lavoie voted to keep the 190-day schedule, while Walsh and Crane voted to end it.
Schultz, Hunt, Casiglia and Johnson all spoke in favor of keeping the extended-year calendar at the board’s heated meeting on July 15.
For City Council, it’s looking like Ward 4 and Ward 6 will have preliminary elections.
Incumbent Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan has moved to the at-large race, leaving an open seat. Three newcomers are vying to fill it: Gina Flynn, David Eppley and Sean O’Brien. In Ward 6, incumbent Councilor Paul Prevey has pulled papers, as well as Beth Gerard and Sawicki.
In addition to his bids for School Committee and Ward 6 councilor, Sawicki has also pulled papers to run for mayor and councilor at-large.
It’s looking like residents will have several choices for the four councilor at-large positions, as well. Incumbent Councilors Ryan, William Legault, Arthur Sargent and Thomas Furey have all pulled papers, as well as Norene Gachignard, a former School Committee member; Paulette Puleo; Elaine Milo and Sawicki.
Councilor-at-large Kevin Carr announced earlier this spring he will not run for re-election due to work commitments.
In Ward 1, former at-large councilor Steven Pinto has pulled papers to challenge incumbent Councilor Robert McCarthy. In Ward 2, Heather Famico, niece of former Councilor Frances Grace, has pulled papers to challenge incumbent Councilor Michael Sosnowski.
Kim Driscoll, Salem’s mayor since 2006, is running for re-election. In addition to Sawicki, several political outsiders have pulled papers to run against her: William Russell Burns III, Cedric Ashley Jr. and Elvis Alvarez. Scott Herwig, who took out nomination papers earlier, has withdrawn, according to the City Clerk’s office.
Burns, a Warner Street resident who works in marketing and sales, took out nomination papers yesterday.
There will be a preliminary mayoral election if more than two candidates return nomination papers.
The final election will be Nov. 5.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.