By Mark E. Vogler
Some candidates for political office in Saugus announced months ago through social media and word of mouth that they would be running for public office in this year’s town elections. The political campaign in Saugus usually begins in late July when nomination papers become available at the Town Clerk’s Office. Not everybody who pulls papers winds up running, though their decision to take the papers home usually fuels political speculation that they are potential candidates.
With the filing of nomination papers with the Clerk’s Office this week (Tuesday, Sept. 19), the political campaign is actively underway – although the complete list of candidates who will be on the Nov. 7 election ballot won’t become official for a few days, until the Clerk’s Office certifies the signatures of the 115 candidates. “We’re hoping to certify all by the end of the week (Friday, Sept. 22),” Town Clerk Ellen Schena said Wednesday (Sept. 20). But with 28 residents submitting nomination papers for a seat on the nine-member Charter Commission, it could be early next week before all of the signatures have been checked and certified.
With the listing of candidates nearly set, two major themes are already emerging in this year’s political races – continuity in elected town leaders and confidence in the town’s current form of government. There are two major questions registered voters will be asking themselves in Town Election 2023:
Are they satisfied with the current elected leadership in Saugus Town Government?
Are they happy with the current form of government or do they want to see changes made in the Saugus Town Charter?
All incumbent Board of Selectmen members, School Committee members and Housing Authority members returned their nomination papers this week. In addition, 47 of the 50 incumbent Town Meeting members plan to run for another two-year term. Saugus voters will decide whether they are happy with the way their elected leaders are performing.
Overshadowing this year’s traditional election races is the Charter Commission question, which has been spearheaded by Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano. Since late last year, he has been outspoken on his desire to see major changes in Saugus’ form of government – particularly in the town manager form of government. Cogliano has said he would support Saugus changing from a town to a city. And if that’s not possible, he advocates having the town manager be elected rather than appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Cogliano has also said he would run for mayor if Saugus became a city and that he would be interested in being a future town manager if Saugus remains a town.
If the signatures for all of the candidates submitting nomination papers are certified, here is how the races will shape up:
Board of Selectmen: Board Chair Cogliano, the top vote-getter in the past two elections, and his four colleagues – Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta and Selectmen Jeffrey Cicolini, Corinne Riley and Michael Serino – are all seeking another two-year term. There are three challengers running against them: Sandro Pansini Souza, Sebastian DiModica and Michelle Raponi.
School Committee: Committee Chair Vincent Serino and his four colleagues – Leigh Gerow, Joseph Dennis Gould, John Hatch and Ryan Fisher – are all seeking another two-year term. They face a serious challenge from former School Committee Chair Thomas Whittredge, the top vote-getter among School Committee candidates in the previous two elections. Whittredge resigned early in his last term to spend more time with his children after his wife’s death. Also seeking a seat on the School Committee are challengers Stephanie Mastrocola and Brian Kohr.
The Saugus Housing Authority: Incumbent Housing Authority Members Maureen Whitcomb and James Tozza are seeking another four-year term. Challenger Nicholas Melanchook is running against them.
The Charter Commission: This is clearly the marquee race on this year’s local election ballot. Twenty candidates are competing for the nine seats. They include some of the most powerful, influential, most experienced and best-known names in Saugus local government over the past 30 years and some promising new faces on the political landscape. The candidates are Anthony Cogliano, Anthony Speziale, Frank Federico, Julie Mitchell, Robert Camuso Sr., Thomas Traverse, Lori Gallivan, Judy Worthley, Eugene Decareau, Donald Cicolini, Peter Rossetti Jr., Kenneth DePatto, Stephen Doherty, Richard Thompson, John O’Brien, Assunta Palomba, Peter Manoogian, Matthew Parlante, Michael Serino, Jeanette Meredith, Vincent Serino, Debra Panetta, Robert Long, Maureen Whitcomb, Joseph John Vecchione IV, Lawrence Mingolelli, Christopher Tarantino and Ryan Fisher.
Town Meeting races: 47 of the 50 incumbent Town Meeting Members have filed nomination papers, indicating an interest in running for another two-year term. There are 21 challengers this year. For the first time in several elections, there will be competition for the incumbents in each of the town’s 10 precincts. Here is the precinct by precinct breakdown.
Precinct 1: All five incumbents are running: Susan Dunn, Anthony Arone, Mark Bell, Sue Palomba and Christopher Jones. There are two challengers: Stacey Herman-Dorent and John O’Brien.
Precinct 2: Four incumbents are running: Christine Moreschi, Robert Camuso Sr., Peter Rossetti Jr. and Christopher Riley. They face four challengers: Joseph Malone, Matthew Parlante, Yves J. Lamite and Jeannie Meredith.
Precinct 3: All five incumbents are running: Arthur Connors, Jr., Richard Thompson, Daniel Schena, Rick Smith and AnneMarie Tesora. There are two challengers: Leonard Ferrari Jr. and Mark Victor Sacco.
Precinct 4: All five incumbents are running: Glen Davis, William Leuci, Robert Northrup, Maureen Whitcomb and Stephen Doherty. There are three challengers: Andrew Whitcomb, Stephanie Shalkoski and Robert Long.
Precinct 5: All five incumbents are running: Pamela Goodwin, Jaclyn Hickman, Ronald Wallace, Brenton Spencer and Mary Migliore. Mark Panetta is the lone challenger.
Precinct 6: All five incumbents are running: Elisa LeBrasseur, Jean Bartolo, Allen Panico, Kevin Currie and William Brown. Karen Rakinic is the lone challenger.
Precinct 7: All five incumbents are running: Stefano D’Anna, John Chipouras, Robert Palleschi, Michael Paolini and Stephen McCarthy. Frank Federico is the lone challenger.
Precinct 8: Four incumbents are running: William Kramich Jr., William Cross III, Thomas Traverse and Anthony LoPresti. They face three challengers: Arthur Grabowski, Kristi Talagan and Darren McCullough.
Precinct 9: Four incumbents are running: Katrina Berube, Judith Worthley, Robert Strasnick and Daniel Kelly. They face two challengers: John Cottam and Linda Bell.
Precinct 10: All five incumbents are running: Martin Costello, Darren Ring, Peter Manoogian Sr., Carla Scuzzarella and Peter Delios. They face two challengers: Steven C. DiVirgilio and James Tozza.