Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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March 13, 2014

Making their case

Sky-high property taxes dominated Monday night’s candidates forum at Memorial Hall Library, with the two candidates for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen sparring over how to treat seniors on fixed incomes.

“Property taxes are incredible,” said Jodi Oberto, 46, a sales rep with a manufacturing firm. She recounted a conversation she had last weekend with an elderly couple who told her that after living in town for years, they had to sell their home because they couldn’t afford the $20,000 property tax bill.

She favored giving seniors a break so they can stay in town.

“They (senior citizens) don’t have children in schools,” she said. “They’ve done their part. They’ve paid their fair share. Maybe a percentage of what they pay can be reduced. We should do anything we can do to reduce their burden to make their lives easier.”

But Mary O’Donoghue, 57, a local Realtor, disagreed.

“I don’t like a proposal that singles out a group for a tax break or special attention,” she said. “It’s not addressing the issue. We need to look at the big picture. We’re all in this together. We have to do what’s best for everybody.”

The two candidates are vying to replace Selectman Mary Lyman, who has opted against seeking another term. The election is March 25.

The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Andover/North Andover and televised by Andover-TV, was attended by about 30 people, who wrote questions on index cards that were then handed to moderator Heather McNeil.

In addition to the candidates for selectman, unopposed candidates were also allowed to speak and answer a few questions. They included School Committee candidate Joel Blumstein, Town Moderator incumbent Sheila Doherty, and Housing Authority candidate Jack O’Donohue.

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