Decisions pending for potential candidates

WESTFIELD – Candidates have 12 days left before having to submit nomination papers for certification and the majority of hopefuls in the mayoral and City Council races have yet to submit the nomination petitions signed by 50 registered voters in the city.
A total of 29 possible candidates have pulled nomination papers, but only 12 of those potential candidates have returned the document for certification by the City Clerk’s office. The deadline for returning nomination papers is Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Three candidates have taken out nomination papers for both the At-large contest and a ward race, including two City Council incumbents, David A. Flaherty and Christopher Keefe, and a new contender, Mark Butler, who had taken out papers for both an At-large contest and the Ward 4 seat as well.
Flaherty, presently an At-large councilor is considering jumping into the Ward 6 race, while Keefe, currently holding the Ward 1 City Council seat is considering the option of campaigning for an At-large seat.
Flaherty won reelection two years ago by a slim margin in the crowded field of 14 candidates in the At-large contest, a contest that could be as equally crowed in the election this fall if all 14 potential candidates return nomination documents.
Keefe won the Ward 1 seat in a contest with Mary Ann Babinski in a race that was so close it required a ballot recount which Keefe won by 11 votes. Keefe would face Babinski again this fall if he decides to run for the Ward 1 seat. If Keefe decides to enter the At-large contest, Babinski, who has already returned her nomination documents which have been certified, will be unopposed for the Ward 1 post.
Only five of the potential 14 At-large candidates have returned their nomination papers which have been certified. Carl Vincent, who campaigned against Ralph Figy for the Ward 2 seat and who is currently a member of the planning board, is joined by several new faces to the city’s political scene including Muneeb Moon Mahmood and Rudolph Musterait.
Also returning papers for the At-large race are incumbents Brent B. Bean II and Dan Allie.
Former At-large Councilor John J. Beltrandi, challenger Steve Dondley, At-large incumbents Matthew T, VanHeynigen and Cindy C. Harris, as well as Flaherty, Butler, and Keefe and Mayor Daniel M. Knapik, who is not seeking reelection to a fourth term in the corner office, have all pulled nomination documents which they have yet to return.
Ward 2 Councilor Ralph Figy has returned his nomination papers as has Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell who could face both Butler and Katherine Z. Bentrewicz for that seat. If Butler turns in Ward 4 nomination papers it would require a preliminary election on Sept. 22 to reduce that field to two candidates for the Nov. 3, 2015 General Election. If Butler submits the At-large nomination, no Ward 4 preliminary election would be required.
In the Ward 3 race, incumbent Brian R. Hoose, who was unopposed in the election two years ago, is being challenged by Andrew Kevin Surprise. Neither candidate has returned nomination papers for certification.
Ward 5 incumbent, Robert A. Paul Sr., has returned his nomination papers and is presently seeking reelection unopposed.
The Ward 6 contest could also require a September preliminary if Flaherty submits papers for that City Council seat. Two members of the Planning Board, Vice Chairman William J. Onyski and Cheryl L. Crowe have returned their nomination papers which have been certified.

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