By Jonathan Phelps
---- — PEABODY — Former City Councilor James Moutsoulas is dropping out of the special election for the city’s state representative seat due to a “technicality.”
Moutsoulas, 66, a Democrat, said yesterday that while his nomination papers were certified by the city clerk’s office on Jan. 24, his name will not appear on the March 5 primary ballot. The secretary of state’s office would not accept the 220 signatures that he collected because the forms did not include his party designation.
He said there is no way to correct the error because the city’s Jan. 22 deadline to collect 150 signatures has passed. This means the Democratic candidate for the April 2 special election will be School Committee member Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne.
Moutsoulas, who served as the Ward 3 councilor for 12 years, said he is disappointed about the oversight.
“I am beside myself about this,” Moutsoulas said. “I had my signs already made, I had my fundraisers all set and had over 100 people ready to volunteer for this election.”
He has ruled out running a sticker campaign, he said.
The city’s representative seat was left vacant by the November death of Rep. Joyce Spiliotis. The 12th Essex House district is exclusive to Peabody, although it includes only wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 and precincts 1 and 3 of Ward 5.
The electoral lineup should assure three candidates in the final election on April 2. City Councilor Dave Gravel, at present unenrolled — meaning he is not affiliated with any party — is assured of a spot on the ballot.
Two Republican candidates Greg Bunn and Leah Cole must slug it out in a March 5 primary.
“I did a lot of good things for the city, and that is what I wanted to do as state rep,” Moutsoulas said, noting his zoning and business experience. “I was going to use my talents and background to help the city of Peabody.”