Published in the February 25, 2016 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — In a dramatic announcement midway through Monday night’s Selectmen’s meeting, member Michael Prisco announced that he has reconsidered his earlier decision to seek re–election to the Board of Selectmen. Prisco announced that he now will not seek a third term on the Board.
Back in January, Prisco pulled papers for another term on the first day they became available. At the time he said he wanted to continue devoting time to the town’s economic development, including an upcoming decision to join the MWRA for water supply.
But during the “Public Comment” portion of Monday’s meeting, Prisco read a prepared statement that said the following:
“Many of you know that back in January I pulled election papers to seek re–election to the Board of Selectmen. I was excited to continue my dedicated efforts and hard work to keep making our town a better place for our kids so someday they can raise a family here.
“In this folder I have over 150 signatures ready to go. I was ready to go. But unfortunately, a few weeks ago something transpired that made it clear to me that am not in support of the leadership direction this Board wants to go in so to keep the peace I felt that this is the time for me to move on and end my tenure on the Board.
“So with that said, I am officially announcing that I will no longer be seeking re–election to the Board of Selectmen. However, I will be submitting a citizen activity record for appointment to the Economic Development Committee. This is one area I would like to continue to give my full attention and commitment. The EDC is one objective the full Board and I agree is a key area for the long–term health of our town, so I hope I can obtain your full support for appointment,” Prisco concluded.
Prisco’s announcement appeared to catch his fellow board members by surprise. Audience member Deanna Castro, 9 Bridle Way, said she knew Prisco’s announcement was coming and she felt it’s “a sad day for North Reading.”
“We need every capable, successful, forward thinking and strategic person with the ability to move the town forward,” she said. Prisco has made significant contributions to the town, she said.
Later in the meeting, member Kathryn Manupelli said she respects his decision but she hoped he would reconsider. “I know we’ll see you in another capacity.”
Chairman Robert Mauceri said he would support Prisco’s continued efforts on the EDC. “I’m sad you’ve come to this conclusion.” He wished Prisco would stay on but he respected Prisco’s decision.
Wallner pulls papers to run
Since there are two Selectmen’s seats up for renewal in the May 3 town election, Prisco’s announcement creates an open seat on the Board of Selectmen with less than three weeks before the deadline for filing nomination papers on Tuesday, March 15.
Mauceri also declared his candidacy for re–election back in January. Late Tuesday afternoon, Richard Wallner, 57 Lakeside Boulevard, pulled nomination papers to run for Prisco’s vacancy. Wallner is chairman of the Economic Development Committee.
Prisco’s additional comments
Prisco’s original statement alluded to differences about the “leadership direction” of the board, comments he elaborated on in an interview the next day.
After six years as a member, Prisco said he wanted one opportunity to serve as chairman and met with Mauceri on multiple occasions to seek his support. “Bob felt he could not grant me his support,” said Prisco.
He said most other towns rotate their chairmanship, which is a healthy situation because it avoids complacency. “I think that’s what we have here, complacency at the meetings.” Prisco said he wanted to re-energize the board and reorganize the agendas with “forward thinking” action items.
Prisco said he’s often “frustrated” with the lack of progress at the meetings and he feels the board is stagnant. He said the only way he’d reconsider is if he has Mauceri’s support for chairman.
“We can’t get anything done unless we have productive Board of Selectmen meetings,” Prisco stated.
Mauceri had no further comment on Prisco’s decision. “It was a decision Michael made on his own.”
He said he was disappointed because for the last year the board has functioned smoothly and there has been a lot of progress.
Mauceri pointed out the election hasn’t happened yet and only time will tell what will happen when it comes time to reorganize.
“I’m sorry it occurred, I don’t know how to rectify it at this point. I would appreciate it if Michael changes his mind.”