Candidates discuss the people who inspired them to run for public office
(Editor’s Note: We asked each of the Board of Selectmen and School Committee candidates a “fun question” to share something personal about their political motivation.)
Q: What person had the greatest influence on your decision to run for public office and what’s the best advice that he or she offered on how to serve Saugus effectively and with honor.
For the Board of Selectmen
Selectmen Jeffrey V. Cicolini: My mother Cam and father Vin inspired me to get involved in public service as they served Saugus in many volunteer capacities for decades. They instilled values in my sister and I and emphasized the importance of public service and being humble. My sister Joia and I have both picked up where they left off in giving back to Saugus, the only town we know and love!
Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony W. Cogliano Sr.: My Grandparents, Anne and Tony Cogliano were my greatest political influences. My Grandmother served on the Saugus School Committee and my Grandfather served on the Housing authority and planning board for years. He also ran for the Board of Selectmen in the 70s but came up six votes short. As successful as they were as businessmen and women they were equally as proud of the work they did giving back to the Town of Saugus. I remember them taking me to see their names engraved on plaques at numerous buildings in Town. To them, that was the highest honor and to me seeing my name on our Town Hall, DPW building, Public Safety building, SHS/MS, Veterans School, Belmonte School, Public Library and Senior Center is something I will value for the rest of my life.
Selectman Debra C. Panetta: I got involved in Saugus politics for several reasons, including the overcrowding of the schools and the issues surrounding unsustainable development. I was inspired by Janette Fasano, who conducted the Board of Selectmen meetings with professionalism, leadership, and compassion. I admire Florence Chandler, and the late Janet Leuci and Pam Harris for their knowledge, kindness, and courage.
My advice to anyone getting involved in politics is to listen to the residents, read the papers, and attend/watch board and committee meetings to learn about issues. If you don’t understand something, ask. For newcomers, Town Meeting is a great place to learn about issues.
I am honored to have served our Town for the last 30+ years (24-years in elected positions), and I welcome all questions and comments concerning our community. I am always here to listen.
Board of Selectmen Vice-Chair Corinne Riley: My father and I discussed my reasons in 2016 to get back into public office. I knew then it wouldn’t be easy, but my father encouraged me to do it anyway. He said it was in me to help make more voices heard. I narrowly lost, but I’m glad he believed in me enough to convince me to try. I won in the 2019 election, I just wished he had lived long enough to have seen it. Even when I ran for school committee, he always was my biggest supporter and teaching me if you wanted anything you believed in, you worked for it and you pursued it
Selectman Michael J. Serino: My uncle Christie Serino Sr., who was a former member of the Board of Selectmen, had the greatest influence in my decision to get involved in public service. When he ran for office, my job was to pass out campaign literature. He told me never forget where you came from and do your best for Saugus.
Leo M. Fonseca, Jr.: The greatest influence in my life has been my parents. In my decision to run for office I would have to point to my mother. She taught me to never settle, to challenge the status quo, and to fight for what I believe in. She instilled the qualities that I hold closest to my heart: honesty, integrity, and work ethic. If elected, I will strive every day to make her proud.
Elizabeth Marchese, a former School Committee member: Hands down my father, Jack. He has always supported me in every endeavor I have ever undertaken and has always pushed me to give my absolute best. He has taught me integrity, morality and that respect is earned not owed. He always says “Never forget where you come from Elizabeth and always remember you are no better than how you do for and treat others.” These are words by which I live.
Darren R. McCullough: My Dad, Danny McCullough has definitely had the greatest influence on me personally and politically. Every Saturday, he would have the Saugus Advertiser, Lynn Item, Boston Herald and the Boston Globe on the kitchen table. We would have political discussions with whomever was sitting at the table. He worked for the New England Telephone Company for 39 years as an equipment installer. He was a single dad raising six kids. He played hockey for Saugus High School, was a member of the Saugus/Everett Elks and was a Navy Veteran. He would say, always treat everyone with respect, listen and be honest.
Domenic Montano, a former Board of Selectmen candidate: Without sounding cliché, I would have to say the person(s) who had the greatest influence on my decision to run for public office is my parents. My parents raised 5 children who are all immensely successful. From Boston College, Merrimack and Salem State University graduates, to heads of accounting firms. They’ve raised a police officer and a special education teacher. My parents taught me that NOTHING is impossible. My parents were high school graduates, my father an immigrant from Italy. They did not have much but it was enough. I am so proud to be a MONTANO. I hope I am given the chance to continue my family values and community involvement as your Selectman.
Harry Young: He did not respond to this question.
For the School Committee
School Committee Vice-Chair Ryan P. Fisher: My dad, Paul Fisher, passed away when I was twenty-two. I wasn’t nearly done with him, and I’m constantly pulling snippets of wisdom from echoes of old conversations to help me face each day. He taught me that we’ll be gone far longer than we’re here, so while we can, we should at least be kind and help leave things in better shape. He was a high school English teacher, so I’d like to think he’d have had his sign up next to mine.
School Committee Member Joseph “Dennis” Gould: For who influenced me the most to run for public office, it goes back many years when my Cousin Carrol Gould McCarthy was a Town Meeting Member from North Saugus and led the effort to get the light at Central St. and Walnut St. She put her all into assisting her precinct/Town and it was inspirational. Unfortunately she left us way too early, but it was her energy, memories of her dedication that definitely inspired me to get involved.
School Committee Member Arthur Grabowski: He did not respond to this question.
School Committee Member John S. Hatch: As far as the greatest influence on my decision to run this time that was easy this time, my kids Andrew, Kendall, and my other boys Mike, Matt, and Collin. The other person who always supports and keeps me strong is my wife Wendy. I can only try to work as hard as she does, and look at every issue from all sides as she does.
School Committee Chair Thomas R. Whittredge: My Kids were the biggest influence for me to run for School Committee. I always thought that education in this town could look a lot different. Instead of complaining, I decided to run for office and become part of the solution.
Leigh Gerow: My husband Christopher had the greatest influence on my running for School Committee. He encouraged me from day one to throw my hat in the ring. The best advice he gave me to serve effectively and with honor was to be myself. He advised me to maintain my integrity and with that I’d be able to serve without any reservations. This advice has allowed me to show my true self and to be able to demonstrate to the constituents who I really am.
Former School Committee Member Vincent Serino: My father and mother had the greatest influence on me to run for office. My dad grew up in Saugus and loved this town. He traveled around the world but was happiest when he came back home to Saugus. They taught me to be honest and always tell the truth. They told me to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. My parents taught me about loyalty and what that means to our community and the people in it.