Board of Selectmen candidates had already spent more than $15,000 going into the final eight days of their campaigns
Veteran Selectman Debra C. Panetta, like most of her opponents in the Nov. 2 town election, worked hard to get elected. The 2,121 votes she received were second best among the 10 candidates who ran for the five seats on the board. But Panetta also waged the most expensive campaign for the voluntary, two-year term she will serve as the new Board of Selectmen vice-chair. With eight days left before the election, she had already spent $5,635.86 on post cards to voters, postage, newspaper ads and political signs, according to the campaign finance report she filed with the Saugus Town Clerk’s Office.
Two years ago, Panetta spent $4,752.76 on her campaign. She has already surpassed that amount and is expected to spend substantially more on this year’s race. Two more reports are due: one for a month after the election; another for the year’s end.
Overall, the 10 selectman candidates spent an aggregate of $15,447.36 with about a week left in the respective campaigns, according to a review of the Campaign Finance Reports documents posted on the Town of Saugus website (https://www.saugus-ma.gov/town-clerk/pages/campaign-finance-reports). The candidates raised $7,911.50 collectively. And their outstanding liabilities totaled $30,516.07.
Meanwhile, the seven candidates vying for the five School Committee seats raised $1,113.36 and spent $1,944.96, substantially less, on their respective town-wide political campaigns.
The three-candidate race for the Saugus Housing Authority involved no campaign money.
Here is a summary of the campaign finance reports that were due eight days before the election:
Debra C. Panetta was reelected with the second most votes (2,121) to win the vice-chairmanship of the Board of Selectmen for the next two years. During the period of Jan. 1 to Oct. 25, 2021, she raised $6,125 while spending $5,635.80. With the money spent on this year’s campaign, her total outstanding liabilities have increased to $25,169.58 – which includes $19,169.58 for campaign-related expenses for the period of 2011-2019.
Selectman Jeffrey V. Cicolini, who finished third in the selectmen’s race with 1,760 votes, had already spent $4,100 on his reelection through the period ending Oct. 25. That was for partial repayment of loans from two years ago and for election campaigns during the period of 2015-18. He had lowered his total outstanding liability to $382.82 and ended the period before the election with a balance of $1,198.27 in his campaign fund.
Saugus Police Officer Domenic Montano, who finished seventh in the selectmen’s race with 1,255 votes, had spent $1,041.22 on his campaign from the period of Sept. 1 to Oct. 25. More than $600 of that amount went toward signs from Sachem Signworks. He reported a negative balance of $500.33 in his campaign fund and outstanding liabilities totaling that amount of money.
Selectman Corinne R. Riley finished fourth (1,715 votes) in her reelection bid. She spent $1,004.06 – all of it on postcards printed by Connolly Printing in Woburn. She had a balance of $1,684.57 in her campaign account. Her outstanding liabilities total $2,450 from loans to her 2017 campaign, when she was defeated narrowly for the fifth and final seat on the board.
Selectman Michael J. Serino finished fifth (1,711 votes) in getting reelected to another term. Up through eight days before the election, he had spent $963.81 in campaign-related expenses – $557.81 for printing costs from Staples and the balance for postage. His outstanding liabilities total $1,000 from a loan to his campaign.
Leo M. Fonseca, Jr., who had finished 10th in the selectmen’s race with 727 votes, had spent $942.63 on his campaign flyers and yard signs. He had a -$942.63 balance in his campaign fund.
Saugus Animal Control Officer Darren McCullough, who finished eighth among selectmen (1,196 votes), spent $600 in campaign-related expenses. He reported campaign receipts totaling $1,140 from 12 contributors – including $100 from Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano, Sr.
Elizabeth Marchese, who finished sixth among selectmen candidates with 1,313 votes, had spent $586.50 on her campaign. She spent the money at Sachem Signworks. She reported no outstanding liabilities and no outstanding balance in her campaign account.
Former Saugus Animal Control Officer Harold Young, who finished 9th in the selectmen’s race with 879 votes, had spent $573.34 on his campaign. His outstanding liabilities total $573.34.
Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony W. Cogliano, Sr., received 2,446 votes to top the field of candidates for the second-straight town election. He raised $100 during the period of Sept. 1 to Oct. 26 to increase his campaign fund balance to $150. He reported no outstanding liabilities, and he had not yet spent any money on his campaign at the time he had filed his most recent report.
School Committee candidates
School Committee Chair Thomas Whittredge reported campaign expenditures totaling $623.50 for signs he purchased at Sachem Signworks. He listed no liabilities. Whittredge led the field (2,095 votes) for the second-straight town election, to earn the chairmanship again.
Challenger Leigh Gerow reported receiving $623,50 in campaign receipts from her personal money and spent it all on campaign signs and frames at Sachem Signworks in Saugus. She reported no outstanding liability. Gerow received 1,593 votes to finish sixth among School Committee candidates.
School Committee Member Ryan P. Fisher reported $489.86 in campaign receipts from his personal money and spent most of that money on campaign signs and frames from Connolly Printing of Woburn. Fisher received 1,816 votes to finish fourth among School Committee candidates.
School Committee Member Joseph “Dennis” Gould reported spending $208.10 on 10 lawn signs from Sachem Signworks of Saugus. He reported no outstanding liabilities. Gould received 1,666 votes to finish fifth in the School Committee race.
Former School Committee Member Vincent A. Serino received 2,030 votes to finish second among School Committee candidates, enabling him to earn the vice-chairmanship of the committee. He did not list any campaign receipts or campaign expenditures in his campaign finance report.
School Committee Member John S. Hatch received 1,852 votes to finish third in the School Committee race. He did not file a campaign finance report.
Veteran School Committee Member Arthur Grabowski received 1,161 votes to finish last in the School Committee race. He did not list any campaign receipts or campaign expenditures in his campaign finance report.
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The cost of running for selectman
Candidate/Votes Campaign Expenditures/Price per vote
Debra C. Panetta/2,121 $5,636/$2.66
Jeffrey V. Cicolini/1,760 $4,100/$2.33
Leo M. Fonseca, Jr./727 $943/$1.30
Domenic Montano/1,255 $1,041/.83
Harold Young/879 $573/.65
Corinne R. Riley/1,715 $1,004/.59
Michael J. Serino/1,711 $964/.56
Darren McCullough/1,196 $600/.50
Elizabeth Marchese/1,313 $587/.45
Anthony W. Cogliano, Sr. 2,446/0/0
Editor’s Note: The official vote totals and campaign expenditures were obtained from reports posted by the Town Clerk’s Office on the Town of Saugus website.