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November 3, 2013

30 percent voter turnout predicted

METHUEN — Recent history shows around 30 percent of the city’s roughly 29,000 registered voters participate in municipal elections. On Tuesday, City Clerk Christine Touma-Conway expects a similar showing.

“I don’t see this being different than other municipal elections, based on the benchmarks we use,” said Conway.

Residents will elect a mayor, City Council, School Committee and other local offices. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voter turnout in the last municipal election two years ago was 31 percent. In all, 8,993 ballots were cast. There are now 29,111 registered voters in this city of 48,000 people.

Conway said there has been no significant uptick in voter registration activity this year. The demand for absentee ballots this election is also in line with 2011 — leading her to believe Tuesday’s turnout will again be around 30 percent.

In the race for mayor, voters will choose between incumbent Stephen Zanni and challenger Jennifer Kannan.

Zanni, 69, a retired teacher and school administrator, is seeking his second two-year term as mayor. He was elected mayor in 2011 after besting challenger Al DiNuccio by just 34 votes in a decision that required a recount.

Prior to running for mayor, Zanni was a councilor-at-large for six years.

Kannan hopes a similar path will lead her to the mayor’s office. The 48-year-old Realtor is wrapping up her sixth year as a councilor-at-large. Term limits will force her off the council at the end of the year.

The city’s next mayor will be tasked with overseeing the completion of the Methuen High School renovation and expansion. The $98 million project is slated for completion in the summer of 2014.

The next mayor may also decide the fate of the municipal Information Technology department. Zanni’s repeated failed attempts to privatize IT during his first term were opposed by Kannan and a majority of councilors.

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