By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — The number of potential challengers to Mayor Stephen Zanni’s re-election bid rose to three last week when former city councilor Joseph Leone confirmed he is contemplating a mayoral run.
“I’m thinking about it,” said Leone on Friday. “Right now I’d say I’m 50-50. I’m also interested in seeing who runs. ... I am considering it, but I haven’t finalized anything.”
Leone, 66, served two terms as an East District city councilor from 2006 to 2009. The construction consultant and project manager drew attention earlier this month when he posted a “Leone (for) Mayor” campaign sign on his personal Facebook account.
“It’s my original campaign sign when I ran for City Council that I just Photoshopped a bit,” said Leone. “If I do run that’ll be the sign.”
Residents will elect a mayor, city councilors, School Committee members and other offices in November. City Councilor Jennifer Kannan and 2011 mayoral candidate Al DiNuccio have already expressed interest in challenging Zanni for mayor this fall.
Leone said he will likely make a decision on his election plans in the next month or so after talking with family members. If he does not run for mayor, Leone said he will consider running for the Methuen Housing Authority board.
Two seats on the housing board are up for grabs this fall as incumbents Robert Sheehan and Kathleen Mulligan will be forced off the board at the end of the year due to term limits. Elected officials in Methuen 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.
Former city councilor Jack Cronin has also expressed interest in running for housing authority.
Leone said he would run for East District council only if incumbents Tom Ciulla and Ron Marsan don’t seek reelection. On Friday, both Ciulla and Marsan said they will run again. “They’re both doing a good job,” said Leone.