NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New Bedford City Councilor at Large Brian Gomes said he has pulled nomination papers to run for his current position as well as mayor, after a social media post questioned his use of the term “City Rep.” on the form at the city’s election office.

Carlos Pimentel Felix posted on his New Bedford Live Facebook page on Wednesday a photo in which Gomes, when signing out nomination papers that day, wrote “City Rep.” as the position for which he was seeking nomination.

“Did you know that there’s a new elected position here in the city? According to 30-plus year incumbent, Brian K. Gomes, there is now a ‘City Rep’ position folks can run for,” Felix wrote. “There is obviously no such position, and Councilor Gomes continues to play electoral games and embarrass himself. Come on, Councilor, step up and be honest with the people what office you wish to seek! Step up, or step down!”

Gomes called into WBSM’s SouthCoast Now program on Thursday afternoon to respond to Felix’s claims, and told hosts Marcus Ferro and Chris McCarthy that he’s “not trying to mislead people in any way.”

“When I took my papers out yesterday and put ‘city rep,’ it’s because I’m not sure what I’m running for yet,” Gomes said. He had previously told WBSM that “everything is under consideration” with regards to this coming fall’s election.

“What I was trying to say with ‘city rep’ was a representation of the city,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues to be discussed, and it shouldn’t be an easy run. This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life, because I’m being pulled by both sides.”

Gomes went on to say there are a number of issues in the city that need to be discussed, such as Parallel Products looking to expand recycling operations in the New Bedford Business Park, the development of a planned Advanced Manufacturing Campus on Hathaway Road, and crime in the city.

“Someone has to challenge what’s being done in this city right now,” Gomes said. “Everything is not perfectly fine.”

Gomes said there was nothing wrong with how he went about collecting signatures.

“I have not done anything unethical, I haven't done anything illegal,” he said. “My papers say what they say on them.”

“I have papers out right now and am getting signatures for both mayor and city council, and I'll decide in the next 10 days or so, after speaking with my family (which to run for),” Gomes said. “I’m just sick and tired of trying to make Gomes look like he’s an ass, or he doesn’t know what’s going on. He knows very much what’s going on in this city.”

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Gomes has run for mayor previously, mostly recently in 2019 – but it was not entirely intentional. He had submitted papers to run for both mayor and councilor at large, but did not formally withdraw from the mayoral race with a notarized form, causing him to still be on the ballot in that race while not actively seeking the office.

“We won’t run into the problem that we ran into four years ago, that was not intentional either,” Gomes said Thursday. “I had never been in that situation, and that was just human error. This time we know exactly what we’re doing, and we’ll let the people know what we’re doing.”

“Right now, I don’t think I should be torn up because of the way I took out my papers,” he said.

Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito said that there was no issue with Gomes using the term “City Rep.” on the sheet, because that list is “unofficial.”

“We have an unofficial list we keep when candidates pull papers that I use to track contact info, etc. and I can also share with the media/public,” DeBrito told WBSM. “Once a candidate pulls papers, they fill out the statement on the nomination papers stating their name, address, office running that they then sign prior to getting signatures to be certified.”

“My office has nothing to do with that process as it’s the candidate making the statement. Our concern is when the papers are returned to be certified the signers knew what they were signing for and we confirm them to be registered voters,” he said.

“For example, someone could sign the unofficial list stating they are pulling papers for city council but decide to use them to run for mayor if they filled out the statement prior to getting signatures,” DeBrito said.

If he does opt to run for mayor, Gomes would potentially join six other candidates vying for a chance to unseat Mayor Jon Mitchell, who is seeking a sixth term, if all who took out papers return them with the required number of signatures. That list includes Nathan Almeida, Evan Ziedenburg, Ryan Duarte, Michael Janson, Xavier Cardona and Jesse Soares.

It could also include City Council President Linda Morad, but will not include former Mayor Scott Lang, who said on SouthCoast Now Thursday morning that he won’t be running for mayor this year.

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