By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A political newcomer pulled nomination papers for School Committee last week.
Homestead Road resident Corrie J. Luongo pulled nomination papers for School Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 12, and is running for a three-year term. She is challenging School Committee Chairman Rich Sjoberg and Vice Chairwoman Stacy Dahlstedt in the April 12 Town Election.
Luongo’s decision to pull nomination papers has resulted in a contested School Committee race for the second straight year. School Committeeman Phil McQueen ran against committee member Kate DePrizio and Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville during last year’s election. DePrizio succeeded former School Committee member Tim Doyle, who decided not to run for a third three-year term.
The Villager emailed Luongo a series of questions about her candidacy, but she did not respond to the email. However, she announced her candidacy in a post that was shared on the Lynnfield Listens Facebook group.
“Well, it’s official, I pulled papers this morning to run for School Committee and I have already been contacted by the Villager for an interview, so cat’s out of the bag,” Luongo wrote. “I need 50 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot, so anyone willing to sign, please let me know. I am happy to come to your house pen in hand. Here’s to changing our kids’ schools for the better and having our voices heard.”
Luongo opposes the ongoing mask mandate for schools. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to give Commissioner Jeff Riley the authority last August to implement a statewide mask mandate for when students and staff are inside school buildings. Riley’s decision occurred less than a week after the Board of Health, School Committee and Select Board approved a local mask mandate for municipal buildings during a chaotic and contentious meeting.
Riley announced on Jan. 10 that he extended the state mandate through at least the end of February due to the Omicron variant surging in Massachusetts. Luongo criticized Riley’s decision to extend the mandate in a thread posted in the Lynnfield Listens Facebook group last week.
“I would pull all three of my kids from school if it was an option,” Luongo wrote. “This is beyond ridiculous at this point. When are people going to wake up and see the truth?”
Luongo added in a separate comment: “If I could convince my husband to leave this Godforsaken state, we would be long gone!”
After a resident emailed screenshots of Luongo’s comments to the Villager, the newspaper sent her a follow-up email asking Luongo to clarify or reaffirm her position about masks in schools. She did not respond to the email and subsequently blocked the Villager from viewing her personal Facebook page.
In the wake of the three boards approving the local mandate last summer, rumors have circulated around town that the advocacy group Lynnfield United would be supporting candidates looking to unseat Sjoberg and Dahlstedt. In addition to opposing mask mandates, Lynnfield United also opposed the equity audit of the school system after the group claimed it would lead to the district implementing critical race theory and The New York Times’ 1619 Project into the curriculum. The school system is not teaching either initiative in classrooms, and The Equity Process did not recommend either initiative be incorporated in the district’s curriculum in the Equity Report. Superintendent Kristen Vogel and Teaching and Learning Director Kevin Cyr presented the Equity Report to the school board last month.
Town Clerk Linda Emerson informed the Villager on Jan. 12 that Dahlstedt returned her nomination papers, and they have been certified. She is running for a second three-year term.
Sjoberg is running for a third three-year term on the School Committee. He was appointed as the committee’s chairman last April.
Select Board Chairman Dick Dalton returned his nomination papers to the Town Clerk’s Office last week, and they have been certified. He is running for a third three-year term.
Town Moderator Joe Markey has also pulled nomination papers. He is running for a fourth one-year term.
Housing Authority Board of Commissioners member Stephanie Petty has also pulled nomination papers, and is running for a five-year term.
In addition, Board of Assessors member Richard O’Neil Jr. has pulled nomination papers. He is running for a three-year term.
Three incumbents have yet to pull nomination papers for the April 12 Town Election. Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville is eligible to run for a second five-year term.
Library Trustees Vice Chairwoman Faith Honer-Coakley and Library Trustee Richard Mazzola are both able to run for three-year terms.
Candidates who pull nomination papers are required to receive at least 50 signatures of registered voters in order to have a their name appear on the ballot. The last day to submit nomination papers is Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m.