Published in the January 28, 2016 edition


NORTH READING — There’s still six weeks left for candidates to pull and return nomination papers for the May town election, but it looks like North Reading may have something this year it hasn’t had in quite a while.

A contested race for School Committee.

Apart from an odd situation in 2013, when there were three write–in candidates vying for attention, you have to go all the way back to 2003 to find a contested, three–way race for two seats on the school board.

A contested school race appears to definitely be in the cards this year, as Laina A. Simone, 7 Deerfield Place, obtained nomination papers for a three–year term on Friday.

Simone will be running against incumbents Mel Webster, the committee’s current vice chairman, and Janene Imbriano, first elected in 2013 and seeking her second term.

Simone and her husband have been residents of town for 15 years and have two daughters, one in the eighth grade at the Middle School and one in the fourth grade at the Hood School. Simone has spoken at School Committee meetings in the past in opposition to the proposed PARCC achievement tests. She provided this statement to the Transcript.

“My husband and I chose to make North Reading our home not only because of the excellent reputation of the schools, but also because of the strong sense of community here. Prior to becoming a mother, I was a senior level account executive working with software engineers for over 10 years. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to stay at home with my daughters since that time. Staying at home has afforded me the opportunity to be very active in my children’s education. I have been a member of the Hood School Parents’ Association for the past eight years and have been on the Parents’ Association Board serving as Co-Enrichment Director for the past four years. Each year, my partner and I are tasked with locating, scheduling and facilitating age–appropriate programs for individual grades as well as for the entire student body. This process begins over the summer and continues throughout the year.

“One of my former partners was current School Committee member Julie Koepke, someone with whom I have worked very well. I have also served on the Middle School Parents’ Association as a Board Member for the past two years on the Enrichment team. I am a familiar face to many of the children and staff at the Hood School as I have volunteered in countless classes in the library and have been in the classrooms every chance I get. When my daughters were in the Girl Scouts, I was the infamous “Cookie Mom” for both of their troops, responsible for managing, distributing and reconciling every order our troops received.

“People who know me know that I am very passionate about education. I have testified, along with many members of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association including MTA President Barbara Madeloni, at both the Massachusetts State House as well as in front of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education about the issue of overtesting. I believe these experiences, as well as having children currently in the North Reading School System, will help me to bring a fresh perspective to the School Committee.”

Murphy to run for re–election

Also this week, John Murphy pulled nomination papers for re–election to his 12th one–year  term as Moderator.  The town moderator presides over Town Meeting and appoints members of the Finance Committee.

In contrast to past years when election papers often went begging until the final days, most candidates have come forward early this year

In addition to Webster, Imbriano, Simone and Murphy, incumbent Selectmen Robert Mauceri and Michael Prisco have also pulled papers to run for re–election.

That leaves only the Community Planning Commission to be heard from, where Warren Pearce and Patricia Romeo are up for re–election, both to three–year terms. There are no vacancies on the Housing Authority this year.

To qualify for the May 3 annual ballot, candidates must submit the signatures of at least 50 registered voters to the Town Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. Candidates are urged to submit more than 50 in case some are illegible or can’t be certified or duplicates.

The last day to register to vote in the town election is Wednesday, April 13 at 8 p.m.