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Municipal Candidates Pull Papers

February 5, 2019

Monday marked the start of the municipal election season for Leominster and Fitchburg with city clerks from both cities making available nomination papers for candidates for the Nov. 5 municipal elections.

In Leominster all the seats on the city council and school committee are open.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, four prospective candidates pulled nomination papers.

So far, Mark Bodanza, who is the incumbent for the council’s Ward 4 seat, has pulled papers. Incumbent Ward 2 School Committee Ronnie Hould also pulled papers on Monday, as did Pauline Cormier, who currently hold the City Council’s Ward 2 seat.

Cormier could face a possible challenge. Divine Blackman also pulled papers Monday for the city council Ward 2 seat. Blackman, according to her LinkedIn page is a Worcester State University graduate earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and media studies. She, according to her LinkedIn page is a customer care supervisor for Comcast Cable.

Also pulling papers on Monday, were Isabelle Alera, who will defend her Ward 3 School Committee seat, Sue Chalifoux Zephir, who wants another two years as a At-large City Councilor, and Brandon Robbins, who will run for At-large School Committee member. In 2107, Robbins just missed winning a seat on the City council when he finished fifth for one the four at-large seats on the City Council.

In Leominster, city council and school committee candidates seeking at-large seats must collect at least 200 signatures -- with no more than 75 coming from each ward -- according to the City Charter.

City council and school committee candidates who want to represent a specific ward have to receive at least 50 signatures from the ward they want to serve, according to the charter.

All municipal seats are elected to two-year terms.

One city councilor and two school committee members were elected to their first terms in 2017. At-large City Councilor Thomas Frank Ardinger will be defending his seat for the first time, as will School Committee Members Wendy Anderson, who is holds one of three at-large seats and Isabelle Alera, who represents Ward 3 on the School Committee.

In Fitchburg, all 11 City Council seats and three seats on the School Committee are open.

Four potential candidates pulled nomination papers as of Monday at 2 p.m.

At-Large city councilors Marcus DiNatale and Anthony Zarrella took out papers to run for re-election.

Robert Pooler, who applied for the seat vacated by Dean Tran, pulled papers for At-Large councilor Monday. He is a member of the city’s Lions Club and the holiday decorating committee, according to his campaign Facebook page.

Jorge Rodriguez took out nomination papers to run for the Ward 2 seat, which is currently held by Paul Beauchmin. Rodriguez is a minister and senior usher at New Life Spanish Christian Church and serves on the city’s Council on Aging.

Ward 3 Councilor Joel Kaddy could also face a challenge. Joseph Bowen, who serves on the city’s Cultural Council and works at UMass Medical School in Worcester, pulled nomination papers.

Incumbents and new candidates will need to collect 50 signatures from voters for their names to appear on the ballot, according to the city clerk’s office. For those running to represent a specific City Council ward, they will need to collect signatures from voters who live in the ward.

Councilors and mayor serve two-year terms while School Committee members serve four years.

Mayor Stephen DiNatale was elected in 2016 after serving as state representative for the 3rd Worcester District. He won re-election in 2017 against Alexander Vera.

The 2017 election brought new members to the City Council. Zarrella and Sam Squailia were voted in as At-Large councilors. Elizabeth Walsh and Marisa Fleming, both former School Committee members, won open seats for Ward 5 and Ward 6.

In February 2018, city councilors voted for E. Thomas Donnelly to fill the seat Tran left to become a state senator. Donnelly had come in sixth pace in a crowded race for At-Large councilor in the 2017 municipal election.

Candidates for the 2019 municipal election in Fitchburg and Leominster can take out nomination papers for the next six months. The deadline to file them with collected signatures is Aug. 6 by 5 p.m.

The last day to file nomination papers with statement of candidacy with the City Clerk is Aug. 20.

The City Clerk will post the list of candidates on Aug. 21.

There is no limit of when campaigning can begin, according to the clerk’s office.

If needed, a preliminary election will take place on Sept. 24.

For residents who want to participate, the last day to register to vote in the municipal election is Oct. 16. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 4.

City Editor Cliff Clark contributed to this story.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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