Bettencourt seeks 4th term, other city races shaping up

File photoMayor Ted Bettencourt

[Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction in the year Joel Saslaw was elected to the council.]

PEABODY — It's turning into a robust election year for the Tanner City.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who pulled nomination papers last week to seek a fourth term in office, may once again go unchallenged, but the same isn't true in several other city races.

So far, there are contested races for city councilor in Wards 4, 5 and 6, as well as for councilor-at-large and School Committee.

After Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz announced recently he won't seek a sixth term on the City Council, two candidates have emerged for his seat. Margaret Tierney and Michael Geomelos have both pulled nomination papers. Tierney, a longtime library trustee, has previously run for an at-large spot on the council. Geomelos is making his first bid for office.

In Ward 5, Councilor Joel Saslaw is facing competition from James Jeffery and Andrew Diamond, both first-time candidates. Saslaw was first elected in 2013, prevailing in a heated race over Bob Croce.

Likewise, in Ward 4, Councilor Ed Charest has a challenger in Bukia Chalvire, chairwoman of the Republican City Committee.

Several candidates have pulled papers for the at-large seat being vacated by state Rep. Tom Walsh. In addition to Tom Rossignoll, now a School Committee member, the at-large race so far includes Ryan Melville, Stephen Collins III and Peter Bakula (who has previously run), along with incumbents Tom Gould and Dave Gravel. Councilors Mike Garabedian and Anne Manning-Martin had not pulled papers as of Thursday.

On the School Committee, Rossignoll's decision to run for councilor-at-large ensures at least one open seat, which has already drawn three candidates. Andrew Arnotis, who finished just out of the running in 2015, is vying for the open seat on the school board along with Laurence Aiello and Linda Quadros-Lopez. Longtime member Beverley Griffin Dunne has also pulled papers for re-election, while Jarrod Hochman has not.

Ward councilors Jon Turco, Pete McGinn and Jim Moutsoulas have all pulled papers, but do not have any challengers at this time.

On the light commission, Bill Aylward and Tom D'Amato are seeking re-election with challenges from Raymond Melvin and Laurence Olcott. No one has taken out papers yet for the five library trustee positions on the ballot.

'Extremely proud'

As for Bettencourt, he cited significant achievements during his first three terms in office while still ensuring Peabody remains an affordable place to live with all the services residents have come to expect.

“I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished during the past five years,” he said in a statement. “Our focus on economic development, education, public safety, quality of life and affordability has helped make Peabody one of the most desirable cities to live in all of Massachusetts.”

Bettencourt touts the new Higgins Middle School as the signature achievement of his administration to date. It is the largest construction project in the city's history.

He advocated for a new school during his first mayoral campaign, and since inheriting the project in 2012, has shepherded it to completion on time and on budget. The school opened to students last fall.

The mayor also points to other school capital and technology upgrades, the redesign of Peabody Square on the heels of overhauling Main Street, beefing up fire department staffing, opening a South Peabody trail network, pushing ahead on restoration of Crystal Lake, and taking over Tillie's Farm, as well as upgrades to city parks and other recreation projects.

Another highlight he mentioned is the memorial to Peabody's police and firefighters, which will be completed and dedicated later this spring. The dog park is also well on its way to fruition.

And then there are all the centennial celebrations of the past year, which will be capped off next weekend with a grand ball.

“I love this city and I love this job," he said.

Candidates have until July 21 to take out nomination papers from the city clerk's office. The deadline to return papers is July 25. The election is Nov. 7.

Staff writer John Castelluccio can be reached at 978-338-2677 or jcastelluccio@salemnews.com.

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