Published in the May 4, 2017 edition
By BILL LAFORME
NORTH READING – Andrew Schultz and Scott Buckley became the town’s newest elected officials on Tuesday evening, bringing to an end the only two contested races in this year’s election.
Schultz defeated incumbent Selectman Jeff Yull by an 1,160-462 vote margin, carrying all four districts in town by a sizeable margin. Schultz, an attorney, is a former Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce president who focused on building up the town’s commercial base for the long term during his campaign.
Schultz’s first Board of Selectmen meeting is expected Thursday when they briefly meet to re-organize the board. In a statement after the polls closed, Schultz thanked Yull for his six years on the Board of Selectmen. “We all should thank him for his public service,” said Schultz. “And I think the voters of North Reading for the faith they have shown in me, and I look forward to serving as your selectman.” Schultz also thanked his campaign team, including chairman Sean Delaney and treasurer Francine Coughlin.
After the election results were posted, Yull also congratulated Schultz and all the candidates who ran this year. “I enjoyed the two terms, I’ve given my all to the community,” said Yull. “I do hope that (Schultz) will be his own man and that he will speak on behalf of the people and be able to bring to the table some of the things he promised he would.”
In the School Committee race, Buckley defeated Laina Simone by an 846-739 margin. This was Simone’s second bid for School Committee, following a 2016 campaign that saw her lose by only 14 votes.
In a conversation with the Transcript after the votes were counted, Buckley said that as somebody who had grown up in upstate to New York and moved to North Reading as an adult, “it was just so humbling to be elected to an office in the town I’ve chosen as a home. It’s amazing, just to be accepted by this community.” Buckley, an attorney who serves on the town’s Community Impact Team, added that “my first task is to step up and learn.” One thing he said he hopes to focus on is creating a better school budget for next year, expressing disappointment in this year’s budget – particularly for not including a new Team Chairperson position that he said could save the district a lot of money on its out of district special education costs. “I completely believe it would pay for itself,” said Buckley of that position. Another area of concern in the schools that Buckley cited is class size, calling them “somewhat excessive,” especially in areas like high school math and science.
Buckley and Simone ran a cordial campaign, and both candidates were quick to praise each other on election night. “I cannot thank her enough for the way she conducted herself during the campaign,” said Buckley, adding that she had been an eloquent, polite, and completely professional opponent.
In joining the school committee, Buckley is also replacing Chairman Cliff Bowers, who announced his retirement earlier this year. “I cannot thank him enough for the work he has done for our community over the years, “said Buckley, adding that he was “honored to be joining a wonderful school committee.”
Elsewhere on the ballot, town voters also approved a question banning the commercial sale of marijuana products in North Reading, by an 1,102-504 margin.
In the uncontested races in town, Moderator John Murphy received 1,243 votes to 408 blanks, Chris Hayden was re-elected to the Community Planning Commission with 1,194 votes and 461 blanks, and Michelle Mawn was re-elected to the housing authority with 1,197 votes and 459 blanks.
The town clerk’s office reported that 1,663 out of 11,008 enrolled voters participated, with a 15.1% participation rate.