Challenges to incumbents Judith Flanagan Kennedy in Lynn and William Lantigua in Lawrence and a three-way race to replace a retiring mayor in Beverly claim top billing in local elections this fall.
Other mayoral bouts of note are being waged in two cities where incumbents — Donna D. Holaday in Newburyport and Carlo DeMaria Jr. in Everett — are running to stay in office.
In all, 14 area communities will be electing mayors Nov. 5. Preliminary elections will be held this month where needed to trim fields to two contenders.
Kennedy, who narrowly unseated Edward J. Clancy Jr. four years ago to become Lynn’s first female mayor, is battling City Council president Timothy Phelan in her bid for a second four-year term.
Kennedy proved herself a formidable campaigner with her 2009 upset, but Phelan has been the top vote-getter in seven of his nine elections as councilor at large, and his eight years as council president have given him high visibility.
“It’s August and there is campaign signage exploding all across the city,” said School Committee member Patricia Capano.
“The last election four years ago was decided by 27 votes. My prediction is it’s going to be just as close this election.”
In Beverly, Mayor William Scanlon announced in April he would not seek reelection after serving for 18 years. Candidates include Michael P. Cahill, formerly a state representative and City Council president; three-term Ward 2 Councilor D. Wesley Slate Jr.; and Euplio R. Marciano, who lost bids for mayor in 2007 and 2011.
Two years ago, Cahill narrowly failed in a bid to unseat Scanlon, losing by 353 votes. But Slate enjoys visibility from his tenure on the council, where he is vice president.
“The conventional wisdom coming into the contest is that Cahill is the favorite,” said Ward 3 Councilor Jim Latter, who has not taken sides. “But Wes will run a credible campaign. If he is able to close the gap and be competitive . . . that’s why we have the election cycle.”
Five candidates seek to unseat Lantigua in Lawrence: state Representative Marcos A. Devers, a former City Council president; Councilor at Large Daniel Rivera; Nestor DeJesus, who lost a bid for councilor at large in 2011; Juan Manny Gonzalez, a Lawrence firefighter and first-time candidate; and James Patrick O’Donoghue, also a first-time candidate.
Lantigua won a 10-way race in 2009 to become the state’s first elected Latino mayor.
But his first term has included state and federal investigations and two recall bids. Most recently, state officials last week sued Lantigua, alleging that he and his campaign staff committed campaign funding violations.
In Everett, DeMaria is dueling two challengers: Ward 5 Alderman Robert Van Campen and Ward 1 Alderwoman Millie Cardello. The race comes at a critical time in Everett, with the city engaged in a high-profile competition to land a casino.
In Newburyport, Holaday faces two challengers in her bid for a third term: Councilor at Large Richard E. Sullivan Jr. and Ward 2 City Councilor Gregory D. Earls.
“It’s a very hard race to handicap,” said Councilor at Large Barry Connell.
“We have an incumbent mayor who has performed well and two individuals, who, in the case of Greg Earls, has served many years on the City Council, and in the case of Dick Sullivan, has a name that is widely recognized in political circles.”
Sullivan is son of the late mayor Richard E. Sullivan and the brother of Christopher Sullivan, a former city councilor and interim mayor.
In other races, Woburn Mayor Scott D. Galvin, seeking his third two-year term, is opposed by John P. Flaherty, a local philanthropist, and former state representative Patrick M. Natale.
Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk is being challenged by Mac Bell, a former city councilor and longtime business owner.
First-term Methuen Mayor Stephen N. Zanni is vying with Jennifer Kannan, a three-term city councilor at large and local real estate agent.
Amesbury Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III faces three challengers in his quest for a fifth term: former selectman James N. Thivierge, who has lost previous bids for mayor, including in 2009 and 2011; and first-time candidates C. Kenneth Gray and Jeff Hoover.
In Salem, Mayor Kimberley L. Driscoll has two opponents in her bid for a third four-year term. The challengers are Kenneth Sawicki, who lost to Driscoll in 2009, and Cedric Ashley Jr., a political newcomer.