With three incumbent town councilors deciding not the seek re-election, highly competitive races are shaping up just days after the start of Braintree's election season.
Candidates have until Sept. 13 to pull papers to run in the election, and must return them with the requisite number of signatures by Sept. 17.
Though far from a final list, potential candidates have already pulled papers in all six districts. Six people have also pulled papers for the three at-large seats.
“I will certainly characterize this as a very active season with regard to council,” said Town Clerk Joseph Powers. “It’s fair to say that’s the big draw, for the at-large and district seats.”
As of Thursday, several incumbents had pulled papers to run again for seats, including District 1 Councilor Charles Kokoros; District 2 Councilor John Mullaney; District 3 Councilor Tom Bowes; and District 6 Councilor Paul “Dan” Clifford.
For the at-large seats, incumbents Charles Ryan and Sean Powers had pulled papers.
Notably absent from the list was District 4 Councilor Hank Joyce, who announced on Thursday that he will not seek reelection.
At-Large Councilor Leland Dingee has also said he would not run and has left his At-large position vacant. District 5 Councilor Ron DeNapoli has said who would not run for reelection after extended absences this year.
The openings have already created fierce competition for the seats. Four people have pulled papers for the District 5 vacancy, including Philip Baldassini, William Sweeney, Nick DiMartino, and Michael Owens.
Well-known residents Shannon Hume, current chair of the School Committee; and former Police Chief Paul Frazier are both contending for an at-large seat.
For Joyce’s empty seat, only Frank Boncaldo has so far pulled papers.
“I don’t recall this level of activity this early in the calendar,” Powers said. “We’re the third day in a [month-long] period to take out papers, it certainly is well above average.”
As exciting as the election is shaping up to be, Powers stressed that the focus should not be on who takes out papers.
“We’re a long way from the ballot being set. It’s not just who takes out papers but who returns papers,” Powers said. “This is the making of an active and aggressive campaign season. Time will tell if that will bear out.”
Regardless of the results, the 2013 election season will be the first time since the change in town government in 2007 that the council will have so much turnover.
Previously, the only change in the council's make-up was in a single at-large seat, where Sean Powers ousted incumbent Harold Randolph in 2009.
In 2011, all incumbents won reelection for their seats.
While the race for council seats will be hectic, Clerk Powers is hopeful to see as much interest in other government seats, especially for the School Committee.
According to Powers, Hume hasn't pulled papers to run again for School Committee, due to her running for Town Council.
Sarah Nichols, who filled the School Committee seat for Joseph Zarella -- who had filled it for Kelly Foley, may also pull papers but hasn’t yet done so, Powers said.
Though Nichols has served in the seat since February, she would not be considered an incumbent, Powers said.
For more information about the town election, click here.