Published in the January 21, 2016 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Nomination papers for the town’s May 3 annual town election became available on Tuesday and there was a steady stream of candidates at the Town Clerk’s counter in town hall on the first day as four incumbent board members have already stepped forward.
Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri and board vice chairman Michael Prisco both took out nomination papers to run for another term. The same scenario also happened with the School Committee, as Chairman Janene Imbriano and vice chairman Mel Webster both pulled papers for three–year terms.
Mauceri said he decided to seek another term because the next three years are critical for the town with a number of important initiatives that the board has started and needs to see through to completion.
The MWRA water supply project, with a target date of completion in 2019, is essential for the town’s future, Mauceri commented. And there’s the need to aggressively expand the town’s commercial property, the reason the town acquired the JT Berry property from the state.
“Those are two very critical projects for the future of North Reading. It’s clear we can’t meet all our goals in terms of needed infrastructure and meet our budget needs without additional revenue and that revenue can’t come from our residential taxpayers. It has to come from the expansion of our commercial properties. We need to pursue that with as much energy as possible,” Mauceri said.
“The next three years are important because these things are important and that’s why I’ve decided to continue,” he said.
Mauceri feels it’s “absolutely” the case that the board’s tone and atmosphere has improved in the last year and the Selectmen are more productive. “My goal is to continue to put effort into those critical areas: water, commercial development and infrastructure.
“We have to fix some things and we have to find the revenue to do it.”
Mauceri has lived in town since 1966 and has previously served on the School Committee, the Finance Committee and the Hillview Commission. As chairman of the Selectmen he is also a member of the Financial Planning Team, which has been very successful in fostering cooperation between the Fin Com, Selectmen and School Committee, especially at budget time.
Prisco obtained his nomination papers on Tuesday as well, saying he wants to devote as much of his free time as he can to the town’s economic development. “We have a lot of great ideas, but we need to create new revenue. That’s the number one reason.
“I kind of started us down that road and I want to see it through. The JT Berry center can be something special for the town in the future. That’s the number one reason why I’m running.”
Prisco agreed the MWRA is important, but felt the town hall staff, including DPW Director Dick Carnevale and his department know what needs to be done, “and they’re going to do an excellent job.”
As a secondary goal, Prisco mentioned wastewater disposal on Concord St., which is also important to the town’s development. “That’s why I was happy to get that $30,000 grant, which will give us seed money for a really strong analysis if we can make this happen or not.”
If elected, this will be Prisco’s third term. He feels in the past two terms he’s developed a strong knowledge of the town’s finances and he’s aware of the need for new revenue from commercial development in the future. “That’s the reason I pushed so hard last year to create the Economic Development Committee and get a plan in place.
“If you look at our trend, where the town has been spending its money, it’s been with the schools. But now it’s time to pay attention to other things that have been pushed aside and should be dealt with before they come back to haunt us,” he added.
He thinks the board has been more productive in the past year because more attention has been paid to the Strategic Plan. “That’s what is making us more productive,” he said. “We’ve all bought into it. Now that the school project is over, we can focus on other things going forward.” In the next few weeks he intends to press the board to schedule community workshops to explain the MWRA initiative.
Webster told the Transcript he’s running again because he wants to see the school project “finished right.”
Although not a member of the Secondary Schools Building Committee, Webster has been to nearly every meeting for the life of the project and he wants to be part of the close–out on behalf of the community.
“I want to continue to work with Brad Jones and Bruce Tarr to improve the funding that comes from the state level,” said Webster. There’s a report from the Chapter 70 Review Commission that basically says the state is half a billion dollars short each year in funding public education. “I want to stay on and help by working with Bruce and Brad” on this problem, he added.
“I have a strong feeling about education in the 21st century about adding more STEM and technology and coding courses to help our kids excel and to add courses on the arts side, too.
“I think it’s good to have a couple of people on the board who have been there a long time and know the history and aren’t afraid to provide a leadership role in the community.
“I feel strongly about the success of North Reading schools even though my kids are long gone and I want to continue to be a part of that for three more years.
Imbriano, the school board’s current chairman, is seeking her second term. She could not be reached for comment in time for this week’s deadline.
The deadline for filing nomination papers to qualify for the May ballot is Tuesday, March 15 at 5 p.m. At least 50 signatures from registered voters are required and it is advisable to submit more than 50 in case some are illegible and cannot be certified.
The following town offices are up for renewal on the May ballot:
• Two seats on the Board of Selectmen, held by Mauceri and Prisco.
• Two seats on the School Committee, held by Webster and Imbriano.
• Town Moderator, a one year post held by John Murphy
• Two seats on the Community Planning Commission held by Patricia Romeo and Warren Pearce.
For more information on the election or the election ballot, call the Town Clerk’s office at 978–357–5218.