By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — Former state senator James Jajuga and recent college graduate Daniel Grayton are among the five candidates preparing a run for one of three at-large seats on the City Council.
Seven of nine incumbent councilors are expected to seek reelection this fall. Looking to challenge them are several familiar names in city politics — including former Council Chairman Jack Cronin and current School Committeeman Evan Chaison.
Candidates in the November city election have until July 26 to pull nomination papers with the City Clerk’s office. Those papers must be returned along with the required number of voter signatures by July 30.
So far, 14 people have pulled papers. The five candidates looking to run as at-large councilors, which represent the entire city, are Jajuga, Grayton, Sharon Birchall and incumbents Michael Condon and Joyce Campagnone.
Jajuga, 66, of 146 Forest St., has worked as a state trooper for 21 years and as a state senator from 1991 to 2001. He also served as the state’s secretary of public safety under Governor Jane Swift from 2001 to 2002.
More recently, Jajuga served as president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to 2012.
“I want to get involved again,” said Jajuga yesterday. “I think I have a lot to offer, a lot of experience and a lot of connections at the state level that can be beneficial for Methuen.”
Grayton, 22, of 31 Varnum Avenue, is looking to make his first run for public office.
The recent college graduate works as a regional field director for the Woburn-based Coalition for Marriage & Family, which Grayton described as a “pro-life and pro-family issues” advocacy group.
Grayton said the City Council has “lost touch” with Methuen residents, who must hold them accountable.
“The status quo isn’t working anymore at City Hall,” said Grayton. “I think it’s time for a fresh face, some new ideas.”
Birchall, of 8 McKinley Ave., works for Metro Credit Union and is a board member with the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council. Birchall said she also volunteers for a number of other community organizations.
“I want to bring it to the next level,” said Birchall. “I’m not really a spectator. I’m a hands-on person and I like to be involved. I know that the town of Methuen would benefit from a lot of the ideas I can bring to the table.”
Term limits will force both Councilor-at-large Jennifer Kannan and West District Councilor Jeanne Pappalardo off the City Council at the end of 2013. Kannan intends to challenge Mayor Stephen Zanni’s reelection bid.
Mayors, city councilors and School Committee members are limited to serving three consecutive two-year terms under the city charter. After sitting out one term, candidates are then eligible to run again.
There are two council seats apiece in the city’s East, West and Central districts. In each district, three individuals have already pulled nomination papers. The papers first became available May 29.
Pappalardo’s exit from the council leaves only incumbent Sean Fountain to seek reelection in the West District. Along with Fountain, who currently serves as council chairman, Savoian Drive residents Chaison and George Kazanjian have pulled papers. Chaisson is serving the final year of a six-year stint on the School Committee.
In the East District, incumbents Thomas Ciulla and Ron Marsan are joined by Thomas E. Firth III of 1 Currier St.
In the Central District, incumbents Jamie Atkinson and Lisa Ferry have pulled papers along with Cronin of 33 Richard Avenue. Cronin served as Central District councilor from 2006 to 2011 and also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011.