© The Stoneham Independent

STONEHAM, MA - Election season is heating up early this year, as already Town Clerk Maria Sagarino has interacted with several local citizens exploring the possibility of challenging incumbents at the ballot box next April.

According to Sagarino, as of this Wednesday, at least two candidates had emerged to challenge Selectmen incumbents Robert Sweeney and Thomas Boussy in their almost certain re-election bids, while other contests are also likely in the town moderator and housing authority races.

Municipal elections this year will be held on April 7, and Stonehamites still have around three weeks to obtain nomination papers from the town clerk’s office.

“Nomination papers are available at the town clerk’s office and have to be taken out by Friday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. Any registered voter who wants to [run for office] has to return them by Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. with the signatures of 50 registered voters,” Sagarino explained.

“I personally feel that if even some small part of you wants to [seek public office], nothing should hold you back,” added Sagarino, who welcomes the pre-election activity thus far. “Usually, you see two types of people run. You see those who view the people currently doing the job as not [performing]…or you feel you can contribute something [the incumbents] can’t.”

This spring, local voters will cast ballots in favor of 18 public offices, including for two openings on the Board of Selectmen, two on the School Committee, two on the Planning Board, one for the Board of Health, and one for the Board of Assessors.

Citizens will also pick a town moderator, as well as decide on whom will fill one Stoneham Housing Authority, two Library Board of Trustee, and three constable positions.

As of this week, four potential candidates have emerged in the Board of Selectmen race, in which incumbents Robert Sweeney and Thomas Boussy will face challenges from Finance Board member Devon Manchester and local resident Erin Sinclair — who is currently the office manager for the selectmen.

Boussy, who is currently serving as the selectmen’s chairperson, is seeking his second full term in office. Sweeney, the senior member of the board, is seeking his sixth-term in office, but he has yet to return his nomination papers for certification.

The three other contestants in the selectmen’s race, in which two three-year terms on the board will be filled, have been certified by Sagarino as official candidates in the election.

For School Committee, both incumbents Marie Christie — the senior member of that board — and Shawn McCarthy have pulled nomination papers for re-election to a three-year term, but neither have returned them to Sagarino’s office. Town Moderator Larry Means has been certified as an official candidate for re-election, and he faces a potential challenge from former Finance Board Chairman John Carino. Carino, a Rebecca Road resident who squared off against Means in the moderator’s race in 2013, has not yet returned his papers for certification.

All incumbents for the remainder of the seats on municipal boards have at least sought nomination papers for re-election.

Sagarino is also reminding local residents that those wishing to cast a ballot in the municipal elections have until mid-March to register to vote. The town clerk’s office will remain open until 8 p.m. on March 18, which is the deadline for citizens to complete the necessary registration paperwork.

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