METHUEN — Barring a late entry, just two candidates will run in the upcoming mayoral election — incumbent Stephen Zanni and challenger Jennifer Kannan.
Only Zanni, Kannan and Morgan Drive resident Joseph Leone have pulled nomination papers for mayor. But yesterday, Leone told The Eagle-Tribune he will not run for office. Instead, Leone endorsed Zanni’s bid for a second two-year term.
“I’ll see what I can do to help him get re-elected,” said Leone, a former city councilor now serving as vice chairman of the Methuen Community Development Board.
Potential candidates in the Nov. 5 municipal election have until Friday at 5 p.m. to obtain nomination papers from the city clerk’s office. Those papers must then be returned with the required amount of signatures by July 30.
With four days to go before Friday’s deadline, 17 residents have pulled papers for nine City Council seats. The field of potential candidates for the six available seats on the School Committee remains at 11.
In a press release announcing his decision not to run for mayor, Leone wrote that he shares “with many Methuen residents a high level of disappointment and frustration with how Methuen government has at times operated, but I believe that Steve Zanni deserves another term to continue the progress he has made for the citizens of Methuen.”
Leone, 66, credited Zanni with economic development in the city and progress with the Methuen High School expansion and renovation project. Leone is a member of the city’s building committee that oversees the school project.
“The mayor has done a fine job in keeping the Methuen High School project on time and under budget, and deserves an opportunity to see that through,” Leone wrote.
Leone’s endorsement of Zanni comes one month after Zanni’s previous challenger, Al DiNuccio, threw his support behind the mayor. Zanni defeated DiNuccio in the 2011 mayoral election and took office in January 2012.