Published in the September 2, 2015 edition


LYNNFIELD — Richard Carman was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Registrars by a 3-0 vote of the selectmen Aug. 17.

Four candidates were nominated for the post by their respective political parties, three from the Lynnfield Democratic Town Committee (LDTC) and one from the Lynnfield Republican Town Committee (LRTC).

Nancy Fox of 6 Hawkes Ln., Wallace McKenzie of 4 Debston Ln. and Peter Perlmutter of 7 Thomas Rd. were the nominees from the LDTC. Carman, of 72 Bourque Rd., was nominated by the LRTC.

Carman, of 72 Bourque Rd., will serve with Town Clerk Trudy Reid as well as Robert Casoli and Kendall Inglese. Reid was present during the interviews and in response to a comment about the make-up of the committee, she said only the Town Clerk has the option of being an unenrolled registered voter on this committee. The three remaining posts must be filled by residents who select a political party when they register to vote.

Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford commented, “There is currently our Town Clerk, one Democratic member and one Republican member. I don’t know why it’s a board of four; that doesn’t make sense to me. You’d think it would always have an odd number.”

Nancy Fox

Nancy Fox is a retired educator with over 40 years of experience in the field and a graduate of Salem State University. For the past seven years she has served as a volunteer at the Lynnfield Senior Center. Married with two grown daughters and one grandson, she told the selectmen that each year for the past several years she and her daughters have funded two college scholarships.

“I’ve been involved in government and politics my whole life. I love it,” Fox said.

Peter Perlmutter

Peter Perlmutter has lived in town for almost 30 years. “I’d like to be on the Board of Registrars because I value the vote, I value the integrity of the vote and the importance of the vote,” he said.

“In the past I worked for the city of Pittsfield and the state of Massachusetts in the area of employment and training. I worked with a social science researcher in the areas of employment and training, justice and housing and transportation. I owned my own business for over 25 years, which I sold seven years ago,” he added.

Wallace McKenzie

“I’ve always had an interest in government and elections,” Wallace McKenzie told the selectmen. He holds a bachelor’s from WPI and an MBA from RPI. He worked in the private sector for most of his career, including Converse, the sneaker manufacturer, and Oracle. He said “business intelligence” was his primary area of expertise, mixing data analysis and technology. He also started a company with two partners, which they built to 80 people before selling it.

McKenzie pointed out a statistic he felt was relevant based on the most recently available numbers from 2013. “In Lynnfield, we always think of ourselves as a Republican town but it is actually 20 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican and an astounding 60 percent independent,” he said, adding, “I think the Republicans might actually be ahead of the Democrats right now.”

“I understand the value of the vote. I’ve voted in elections without any contested races,” he said, adding he has managed campaign races “from town meeting member to state senator. I’ve served as a statewide field director for governor’s races and I’ve served as co-state director in presidential races. I understand the value of working with town clerks and the whole watch process, down to notifying when you are going to have counters and observers,” he said.

He has had experience with recounts, including a race for Worcester City Council where he coached the head of the civil engineering department at WPI. “It wound up being a paper ballot recount in which he won by 27 votes,” he said.

McKenzie said he has also scheduled “multiple voter registration drives” including within his own family, noting that his youngest child just turned 18 and he made sure she registered. “I don’t know whether she registered as a Democrat. She did not want to tell me,” he said.

Three years ago, McKenzie entered the public sector. He is currently the business intelligence director for the state’s Executive Office of Education.

Because he is now a state employee, he inquired with the state Ethics Commission about whether there would be a possible conflict of interest for him to serve on the Board of Registrars.

An hour before the selectmen’s meeting he was told by an Ethics Commission attorney that “in the broadest possible sense” there could be a conflict of interest “because the group that I manage produces reports for each of the cities and towns in the 407 (school) districts,” he said. However, if the Board of Selectmen did appoint him to the post it could be resolved if they voted to “classify the Board of Registrars as special municipal employees.” This is an action the selectmen have taken in similar situations such as volunteers on other boards in town. If McKenzie chose to “forego” his salary no such vote would be necessary, he said.

Richard Carman

“Politics doesn’t come in to play when it comes to registering voters and observing the vote. You have to be neutral and I bring that to the table,” Richard Carman told the board.

He has lived in Lynnfield since 1991. Carman said he has been involved with the town’s Republican Committee and also served as the master of a Masonic lodge. He is also a Shriner.

During his career he worked for New England Telephone, which merged with AT&T and he ended his career with Fidelity Investments.

“Each one of the those jobs I had to deal with people, I had to resolve problems,” he said. At AT&T he dealt with marketing and contracts and at NET he was an engineer, he said.

‘A difficult decision’

The selectmen thanked each of the candidates stepping up to fill this vacancy. Selectman Chris Barrett said, “It’s difficult to choose one because we have people stepping forward who want to give back to their community. It’s a difficult decision. If we nominate one I hope the others remain dedicated to their community.

Reid commented, “They always can work elections.”

Barrett subsequently nominated Carman.

Selectman Tom Terranova agreed with Barrett that it was a difficult choice. “This is very tough because you are all very well qualified. I really must say that I was blown off my chair by Mr. McKenzie’s background. You’ve done so much. I think you’d be best suited for the position.”

Since Barrett’s motion remained on the floor, Chairman Crawford asked Terranova if he would like to offer a second. He replied,”I can’t. I’m sorry.”

Crawford said, “I appreciate everybody coming here. It’s always hard when you have a group of people willing to do something and you have to pick one. I’d be happy to second Chris’ motion.”

The vote to appoint Carman was unanimous.

Personnel board interviews

The selectmen also started the process of interviewing candidates for the town’s Personnel Board, which has been inactive for a number of years.

Crawford said nine residents had expressed interest in serving on the board and they would be conducting interviews over the course of two or three meetings. The first slate included Gerry Shulman, Katy Shea, Michael Walsh, Wayne Shaffer and Denis Ritchie. Due to scheduling conflicts, Shaffer and Ritchie could not attend the Aug. 17 meeting and would be invited to a subsequent meeting.

Crawford said Walsh subsequently opted to withdraw his application. Shea gave an overview of her qualifications to the board but concluded by stating that she had decided that she could best continue to serve the community at the grassroots level as a neighborhood activist and keeping up with her blog, Lynnfield Initiative for Transparency.

Shulman has lived in town for over 40 years and outlined his extensive background as a self-employed lawyer and his vast volunteer experience which often involved managing people, along with his service in the U.S. Army as a battalion clerk.

Shulman has also served as the president of two temples, in Peabody and Everett, and was chairman of a Soviet Jewry Committee that brought over 100 Russian Jewish immigrants to the U.S. during the Soviet refusnik era. Among his responsibilities was ensuring these immigrants found jobs and housing.

Currently semi-retired, Shulman is the vice chairperson of the town’s Housing Authority and the chairperson of the Housing Authority Expansion Committee.