~The Advocate Asks~
Editor’s Note: For this week’s interview, we sat down with Precinct 1 Town Meeting Member Sue Palomba to talk about her involvement in Saugus local government. The first time she ran for public office in the 2017 town elections, she finished ninth in a field of nine candidates for the Board of Selectmen. But that didn’t discourage her from getting involved. She says she finds great joy in serving her neighborhood and her town as one of five Town Meeting members representing Precinct 1 and would recommend it as a worthwhile experience for any civic-minded town residents who are considering getting involved in local politics. Sue was born in Avellino, Italy and moved to the Bronx, N.Y. with her family when she was six months old. She is the oldest of four siblings and the daughter of Felice & Emma Ciardiello, who moved their family to Wakefield, where Sue grew up. She graduated from Our Lady of Nazareth Academy, Wakefield in 1984. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management (1988) from Merrimack College. She has been involved in real estate for many years and is the founder and president of Mango Realty, Inc. She and her husband, Americo Palomba have been married for 33 years. He is a master electrician. They have lived in Saugus for 22 years and have two daughters. Rosa Resigno Palomba, a 2009 Saugus High School graduate, graduated from Suffolk University (2013). She is a real estate agent and runs the Rockport office of Palomba Realty and Mango. Melisa Palomba is a 2012 Saugus High School graduate who received her bachelor’s degree from UMass-Boston and is currently enrolled in a nurse practitioner program at Northeastern University and will be graduating next May. Sue has been active in community affairs. She’s been a longtime volunteer at the Saugus Senior Center. She’s been a member of the Saugus Everett Elks, serving as Exalted Ruler also known as President. She’s a parishioner and Chorus Member at the Blessed Sacrament Church along with St. Margaret’s Church. She is also a member of the Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE). She also serves on the Saugus Cable Television Board of Directors. Highlights of this week’s interview follow:
Q: A lot of people, after losing a selectmen’s race in their first try at politics, might not run for public office again. But you didn’t get discouraged.
A: I wanted to get involved and contribute to my community by serving in local government.
Q: The next time, you decided to run for a different office.
A: The whole process of running for selectman was interesting to me. I met so many good people in Saugus and wanted to make a difference and get involved in some way. That’s why I ran for Town Meeting.
Q: Please highlight some of your involvement in the community.
A: I always liked going to the Saugus Senior Center. I started volunteering and serving lunches there. From there, I went to help out on Bingo games. I call the Bingo numbers on Wednesday and still do that now. I love the Saugus Senior Center. It’s always been very special for me. It’s been an important part of my life in Saugus. It’s there that I met Bill and Janet Pothier. They thought I was a good leader and asked me to join the Saugus/Everett Elks. I’m still at the Saugus Senior Center and it’s close to my heart.
Q: What did you expect when you ran for selectman the first time?
A: Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I was out there campaigning, holding signs and getting my family and friends involved by helping me. Running for office was a lot of fun. And I wanted to continue to be involved in local government in some form. Town Moderator Steve Doherty encouraged me to get involved. Al DiNardo asked me to serve on the Saugus Cable TV Board. I was honored and then I ran for Town Meeting.
Q: After running for Town Meeting and getting elected, what do you think?
A: It’s nice for everyone who gets involved in local government. It’s important for people to get involved and get to know their town. It’s what makes the community special. Everyone has got an opinion and different viewpoints. And everyone’s opinion matters.
Q: What’s the best thing you have gotten out of your experience on Town Meeting?
A: Learning how the government runs in the Town of Saugus. I have learned a lot of things about my town. And being able to help the people in Precinct 1 – my neighborhood – the people I represent. Being a representative of Precinct 1 helps me get more involved in my neighborhood. Precinct 1 has a suburban feel to it, lots of trees and conservation land. We have Prankers Pond and Stackpole Field. I love Stackpole Field. From where I live, I can walk to Town Hall and the Saugus Public Library, and I can walk to Blessed Sacrament Church, where I am a member of the Women’s Guild and Choir member.
Q: What has been the most fulfilling part of Town Meeting for you?
A: Listening to people and learning about our town’s challenges and then moving forward in a collaborative effort to address those challenges.
Q: What’s the toughest part about being a Town Meeting member?
A: Making sure you have all of the facts before you make a decision. Voting is an important aspect to the community and town. Voting can make a big difference. But on any issue, there’s always “the other side” to consider. And I don’t want to discourage “the other side.” I want to make sure all sides are heard. One of the pleasures and responsibilities is being able to facilitate public debate on important issues.
Q: Are there some veteran Town Meeting members who have been like mentors to you, offering advice and guidance on how to be a better member?
A: Yes. There have been a few: Pam Goodwin (Precinct 5), Bill Leuci (Precinct 4) and Ann Devlin (a former Town Meeting member). And, of course, Steve Doherty was the one who encouraged me to get involved. It’s very hard sometimes to get involved, especially when you have a full time career and a family. But the more I got involved, the more I wanted to get involved. This is something I really wanted to do. I was president of the Student Council in my freshman year of High School
Q: Do you see yourself serving on Town Meeting 10 years from now?
A: Definitely! I love it.
Q: Any advice to people considering a run for one of the 50 Town Meeting seats in next year’s town elections?
A: If you are going to run to serve on Town Meeting, take it seriously. It’s one of the most important positions in town government. You vote on the town budget and a lot of important issues facing the community. Do your homework and take it seriously.
Q: Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
A: My thoughts on why it can be fulfilling if you are considering being a Town Meeting member? Those quaint sayings about town government being a pure democracy are true. There is no higher authority in town. To have the right to participate, you must be a registered voter of the town, and you must attend the Town Meeting. If you do not get involved, how can you justify blaming anybody but yourself. And if you run and get elected, either we agree or disagree on the issues. But we must respect everyone’s opinion.