Published in the March 23, 2017 edition
By Bill Laforme
NORTH READING – North Reading voters will have a contested selectman’s race awaiting them in the May 2 town election, with Andrew Schultz having announced his candidacy last week. Schultz, who has lived in North Reading since 2005 with his wife Leslie and two sons, is an attorney with offices in North Reading, Worcester, and Salem, New Hampshire. His nine-employee legal practice focuses on real estate and zoning, family law, and personal injury. Schultz graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in economics and in history, and he holds an MBA from the College of St. Rose and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law. Schultz also served a year as president of the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce. He reported that he resigned from the chamber’s board upon announcing for selectman. During his time as chamber president, Schultz said he was particularly proud of his work to bring Governor Charlie Baker to the chamber’s annual meeting on March 30. Another accomplishment he cited was helping to organize the upcoming Town Day event on June 11. This is Schultz’s first bid for public office. When not with his family or law firm, Schultz has spent a fair amount of time in the past training for marathons – he’s run in nine of them, including in the fateful 2013 Boston Marathon, where he was about a mile from the finish line when the bombing occurred. In a conversation this week with the Transcript, Schultz said that he has been thinking about filing for selectman for several months, and that some friends and colleagues had approached him about running from time to time. He added that his decision was set earlier this month at March 13 special town meeting, when incumbent Selectman Jeffrey Yull, now running for re-election against Schultz, offered an amendment to revise a warrant article involving the ongoing restroom facility planning at Arthur Kenney Field. Specifically, Yull offered a proposal to spend $50,000 designing restrooms to be added onto the existing building at the field, one used for storage and by the athletic teams. The school committee, athletic facilities committee and other selectmen had instead been seeking $50,000 to finish design on a new facility that could be then put out to bid with an exact price to be considered at the June town meeting. Yull’s motion did not pass. “I was just not impressed with what I saw at Town Meeting,” said Schultz, adding that the motion had undermined months of work by numerous town residents and that other selectmen had not had a chance to consider the idea. If elected selectmen, Schultz said that he understands the feelings many voters may have on the costs of the project, but added that he still supports spending the money now to add a concessions stand to the restrooms project because of ever-increasing construction costs. “We don’t want to kick the can any further on that issue,” said Schultz. Another key issue in Schultz’s campaign is bringing sewerage service to the commercial area of Concord Street. By doing so, he said, the town could potentially attract much larger commercial properties, such as hotels, greatly increasing its tax revenues in the process. From there, he added that the town could potentially invest in sewerage in the Route 28 commercial area. He added that future revenues generated by the 450 future residential units at the Berry Property would help finance the sewerage project, and that the town’s future water connection with the MWRA further makes this possible. Schultz predicted that investing in sewerage in the commercial areas would pay for itself in the form of higher tax revenues, and he emphasized that he is not calling for sewerage to be installed in the residential areas. He added that ultimately, he would love to see development on Route 28 that makes it possible for example for families to dine at a local restaurant and then walk to a nearby business for ice cream. “It’s good to get new ideas out there,” said Schultz. “The big thing is, I’m a candidate for small business.” On other issues, Schultz said he would have likely voted against the proposal to bring a medical marijuana facility to North Reading, particularly the proposal that did come up before the selectmen last month. He added that he doesn’t care what people do at home with marijuana, but emphasized his concern about the prospect of vehicles making marijuana deliveries in town and transporting large amounts of cash and product. He also said that North Reading could use more event space, as well as more restaurants to encourage residents to spend more of their time and money in town. “Let’s keep the dollars local,” said Schultz. He added that the town is business friendly in general, but has not wisely used its commercial spaces in the past. “I think we need new blood on the board,” said Schultz. “We need people with a business acumen.” Schultz said that North Reading currently has a 13% commercial tax base.” Since entering the race last week, Schultz reports that he’s had a positive reaction from residents, and he emphasized that he intends to avoid any negative campaigning. “I want to talk about what I can do for the town. I want this to be a positive campaign,” said Schultz. To learn more about Schultz, look up Andrew Schultz for North Reading Selectman on Facebook.