By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — Mayoral candidate Jennifer Kannan called on City Council hopeful Robert LeBlanc to drop out of the race as allegations of inappropriate behavior have dogged his campaign for more than a week.
LeBlanc, who is one of five candidates running for three at-large seats, in an email statement yesterday, said he would not drop out, calling the allegations false and criticizing Kannan for piling on.
Mayor Stephen Zanni, who is running for a second term, said LeBlanc should “do the right thing,” but stopped short of calling on him to back out of the race.
“He should drop out, for the good of the city,” Kannan, 48, said during an editorial board meeting with The Eagle-Tribune yesterday.
LeBlanc, 62, said that political opponents “peddled this story last time I ran for office.” He said the allegations have “zero credibility.”
“Once the shock wears off and people begin to think rationally I will be vindicated,” he said in the statement.
“The career politicians in Methuen want to get their hooks into the finances and development opportunities that are ripe for the picking for corrupt officials and their facilitators. They don’t want me on the Council because I will reveal real criminality. They know I cannot be corrupted. They need to knock me out. I am a fighter not a quitter. Had I done anything wrong I would have been arrested. I was not.”
Zanni, 69, a first-term mayor who served multiple terms on the City Council, did not urge LeBlanc to drop out of the race. “I really don’t have a comment at this point,” he said yesterday. “I think enough has been said and it’s up to him to do the right thing.”
No other candidates in the race have called on LeBlanc to quit. The Massachusetts Republican Party last week did call on him to drop out and urged the state Democratic Party to cut ties with him.
Kannan is prohibited from running for a fourth term on the City Council.
The Eagle-Tribune reported on Oct. 4 that LeBlanc was banned from the Greater Lawrence Technical School campus in 2005 and from all Barnes & Noble bookstores in 2002.
On Tuesday, WBZ-TV aired an interview with a former Greater Lawrence Tech student, Kevin Marr, who said LeBlanc stalked him on campus and at the Rockingham Mall in Salem, N.H., where Marr worked at the time. Marr filed a police report about the incident.
LeBlanc has said that to his knowledge he was never banned from Greater Lawrence Tech. The alleged stalking occurred when “I was 1,500 miles away (in Florida),” LeBlanc said yesterday. He has said the accusation was based on a “non-incident.”
He said the ban from Barnes & Noble was lifted long ago. He said the ban was the result of a run-in with a bookstore manager in Salem, N.H., after he fell asleep in the store and began snoring.
In November 2008, LeBlanc was charged with a single count of assault and battery for giving fellow attorney Pamela Saia-Rogers a bearhug in Lawrence District Court.
LeBlanc was placed on six-months pretrial probation in August 2010 and was told to send a letter of apology as a result of the incident.
He served as Methuen town manager from 1976 to 1981 and town councilor at large for two terms in the 1980s. Also running for councilor at large this fall are incumbent Joyce Campagnone and challengers Sharon Birchall, Daniel Grayton and James Jajuga.
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