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Filling a vacancy with a vow

GETTING HER CHANCE New School Committee Member Leigh Gerow
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New School Committee member Gerow promises to “work as hard as I can for the children and parents of Saugus”

  For the first time in more than two and a half years, a woman will serve on the five-member School Committee. Leigh Gerow – who received 1,593 votes, the sixth highest total in last November’s town elections – fills the vacancy left last week by the resignation of School Committee Chair Thomas R. Whittredge. Whittredge, who was the top vote-getter in the last two School Committee races, stepped down from the two-year position to spend more time with his two children after his wife died last Thanksgiving.

  “I’m honored to take Mr Whittredge’s position and I’m glad he’s able to take the time he needs to be with his family,” Gerow said in a brief statement to The Saugus Advocate.

  “I surely can’t fill his shoes but I’ll work as hard as I can for the children and parents of Saugus,” she said.

  One of the first orders of business expected when the School Committee meets next week is to elect a new chair to fill the remaining 18 months of Whittredge’s unexpired term. School Committee Vice-Chair Vincent A. Serino is the most-likely replacement, as he finished second in last fall’s School Committee race with 2,021 – 69 votes behind Whittredge. As a courtesy, the top two vote-getters in local elections usually assume the chair and vice-chair positions.

  School Committee Member John Hatch finished with 1,846, followed by Ryan Fisher (1,807) and Joseph “Dennis” Gould (1,661).

  During last fall’s campaign, Gerow cited her experience as a sign language interpreter and local Girl Scout leader as invaluable if she were elected. “I am motivated to run for this position because of the gap I see in representation on the board,” Gerow said in her candidate’s announcement.

  “I believe I would bring a unique set of qualifications to the position of School Committee Member. As a Mom, I understand the needs of children in the school and as a Sign Language Interpreter, I am sensitive to students with a range of abilities and communication styles,” she said. “In addition, I currently serve as a Saugus Girl Scout Leader for grades K-2, working directly with our youth and can transfer these experiences to my work with the School Committee. I have experience advocating for children and have worked with Town Meeting members to ensure a safer Town Hall.”

  Originally from Somerville, she graduated from Somerville High School in 1993 and from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language (ASL)/English Interpreting in 2000.

  She’s lived in Saugus for six years with her husband Christopher and their seven-year-old daughter Lilly. She has worked as a freelance ASL Interpreter for 21 years, working primarily at Boston University for the past 12 years.

  “Our educational climate is changing and along with it, our population of students,” Gerow said. “It is vital to me that we create a safe and fair learning environment for students from all backgrounds. I would work passionately to make sure that every child is recognized and their needs met,” she said.

  Gerow finished sixth in the School Committee race last fall – 68 votes behind Gould. But she finished 429 votes ahead of last place finisher and veteran School Committee Member Arthur Grabowski.

  Back in 2017, Saugus voters elected four women to the School Committee.

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