WAKEFIELD — Paul R. DiNocco and Michael J. McLane will face off in the race to fill a nine-week vacancy on the Town Council.

The Special Town Council Election will be held on Tuesday, February 22 at the Galvin Middle School from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At yesterday’s deadline, no one else expressed a desire to run for the open position created by the October death of Councilor Peter May.

DiNocco, a Wiley Street resident, is a former longtime town councilor (and selectman before the board’s name change) who opted not to seek reelection last April.

McLane, of Fairmount Avenue, served as an elected assessor back in the early 2000s.

Nomination papers signed by at least 50 registered voters were due into Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran’s office yesterday at 5 p.m. Both candidates’ collected signatures have been certified.

By the time the Special Election takes place, the winner will serve just nine weeks before the April 26 Annual Town Election. The winner of the Special Election could then enter the Annual Town Election as an incumbent.

The Town Council voted 6-0 on December 15 to call the Special Election. DiNocco took out nomination papers for the seat the next morning. McLane pulled nomination papers on December 29.

 

Under Massachusetts General Laws, when a vacancy occurs on a Board of Selectmen (or Town Council) the remaining members must call a Special Election if petitioned to do so by 200 registered voters. That happened earlier this month when a petition was turned in and certified by the Town Clerk’s Office.

At their Nov. 8 meeting, the remaining six members of the Town Council had listened to the advice of Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran and voted 5-1 against calling a special election, with the next regular Town Election just months away. Only Councilor Edward Dombroski favored calling a Special Election to fill the seat.

But the following week, Pierce Avenue resident Kristen Henshaw pulled petition paperwork to force a special election.

Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio pointed out that the Feb. 22 date would also fall during school vacation, minimizing disruption at the Galvin Middle School, which is the town’s centralized polling place for the entire town.

The Feb. 22 Special Election means that Wakefield will see three elections in the first four months of 2022. On Jan. 25, voters will go to the polls to vote on a new Northeast Metro Tech vocational school, followed by the Special Town Council Election a month later. Then there’s the Annual Town Election on April 26.

Maio said that the town did look at the possibility of combining the two special elections. But the Northeast Metro Tech School Committee set the date for the district-wide Special Election on the school. In addition, the hours of that election are limited, and the potential for confusion on the part of voters was something the town wanted to avoid, Maio said.