By Seth Daniel
Forget the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby – another local horse race is about to take center stage, and it has nothing to do with horses.
The City Election officially kicked off last Wednesday when nomination papers became available. Nomination papers are required for a candidate to get on the ballot, and potential candidates must gather a number of signatures from registered voters in order to become eligible to run.
Nomination papers are due into the Election Department in July.
This week saw no fewer surprises than what has already been seen in this early election, with several people pulling papers that weren’t on the radar screen before last week.
In the at-large race, many have already made their intentions known.
Incumbents Bob Haas, Dan Rizzo, George V. Colella, Tony Zambuto and John Correggio have all taken out their papers.
Amazingly enough, Correggio took his papers out and received five times more signatures than necessary in just one day. His papers were turned in and certified by last Thursday.
So far, challengers in the race include Richard Penta of Beachmont, George Rotondo (currently the Ward 4 councillor), and Al Terminiello Jr. of Eastern Avenue.
One surprise in the field is former politician Ed O’Hara of Beach Street.
O’Hara first held office in the 1960s. He has been on the School Committee, on the City Council, was a City Council president, and ran the most successful mayoral sticker campaign the city has ever seen.
He said he’s throwing his hat into the race because he doesn’t like what he sees.
“I’m getting a little worried as to what’s going on,” he said, noting that he’s been going through the current budget with a fine-toothed comb. “I can’t understand how we’ve found ourselves in this position…I love this city, and my family’s been here since 1901, and I’m worried and concerned. I don’t see any change.”
From the oldtime political figures to the brand new candidates, this year’s race looks to have it all.
In Ward 4, Councillor George Rotondo is hanging up his ward councillor hat and going for an at-large bid. Two newcomers are vying for the position so far.
Ricky Freni of Madison Street has been the first to throw his hat into the ring, and took out papers last week. He made his announcement in the Journal on April 15, noting that he has been a resident of the ward for 10 years.
His campaign is based on getting back to the basics, saying he wants to concentrate on Ward 4 first.
“Together, we can rid the neighborhoods of drug dens, junkyards and all that is ugly in our ward,” he wrote in his announcement.
Prior to last week, it was assumed that he would have no competition, but Joe Lavino of Rand Street has emerged as a serious candidate in the race.
Lavino, reached by phone this week, said he is definitely in the race and he has a lot of good ideas that he will be sharing in the coming weeks.
In the city voter list, he is listed as a pharmacist.
Ward 2 has also emerged as a race with quite a political fight looming.
Historically the lowest voting ward in the city for some time, this time around there are already three candidates, including incumbent Ira Novoselsky.
Challenger Steven Morabito of Florence Avenue emerged last year as a serious challenger to Novoselsky’s incumbency. Having been active in the Revere Beautification Committee and a manager at Johnnie’s Foodmaster, Morabito has campaigned on bringing change to the ward.
That race has been going on for some time, but last week, Francis Davis Jr. of Arlington Avenue also jumped into the race.
Davis is a former Marine and a former Boston schoolteacher who has lived in Ward 2 for 14 years and put two kids through the Revere schools. He said he is from a diverse background and is willing to be a voice for everyone.
“I like the neighborhood and I like the diversity here,” he said. “I come from a diverse background myself. My mother was Sicilian and my father is Irish and my wife is Dominican…I really don’t want to get into politics; I want to get into helping people in the neighborhood.”
Like other new candidates, Davis said he was going to try to keep things simple and to focus on the ward and not City Hall.
“My motto is going to be ‘Let’s keep things simple; Let’s keep things honest. It’s time for change,’” he said this week.
In the other wards, there don’t seem to be any challengers yet who have pulled papers.
In Ward 1, there has been some postulation that Leah Singer might make a run against incumbent Jim Kimmerle, but nothing concrete has emerged.
Likewise, in Ward 6, former candidate Victoria Laws has been seen around City Hall, but she has yet to pull papers or announce a candidacy. Incumbent Councillor Charlie Patch Sr. has pulled his papers and is already embarking on his re-election campaign.
In Ward 3, it has long been said that incumbent Arthur Guinasso would have competition in former Ward 3 Councillor Brian Vesce. Nevertheless, Vesce has yet to take out papers for any run.
In Ward 5, it appears Councillor John Powers will run unopposed.
Meanwhile, on the School Committee, things have been much more quiet than in the council races. So far, only two incumbents have pulled papers – Donna Wood Pruitt and Fred Sannella – and two challengers, Mathew Cogliandro and Joe Nichinello. However, there have been several other challengers who have been discussing a run for the committee, so this race may become a lot more crowded before July.