The gloves have come off in the two-way race for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen, as the candidates are swapping charges over competency and qualifications.
In advance of Tuesday’s town election, Jodi Oberto, a manufacturing sales representative, said her opponent, local Realtor Mary O’Donoghue, is part of Andover’s old boys’ network whose 12 years on the Finance Committee have led the town to overspending and high taxes.
But O’Donoghue countered experience is just what the town needs now.
The selectman’s race is the only contested seat on the town ballot. The successful candidate will replace longtime Selectman Mary Lyman, who has declined to seek another term.
“I was at Old Town Hall on Saturday speaking to an older woman who was so glad to see me she gave me a hug,” said Oberto, a 47-year-old, married mother of two children in the local schools. “She said I’m going up against someone who’s been around a long time, almost like the good-old-boy network — they want to keep their own in there.”
Added Oberto: “She’s been on the Finance Committee for 12 years and has been part of the decisions that have us in the situation we’re in now. People will either like her because she’s been around, or they won’t because she’s been around. She’s definitely backed by the old-boys’ network.”
In response to the claim she is part of an old-boys’ network, O’Donoghue, 57, replied: “The level of this conversation is not very high. She is saying whatever she can to hurt me because she has no campaign.”
“If Jodi had been listening to Finance Committee meetings over the years, she would have heard a clear message, that we need to rein in spending,” said O’Donoghue, who works for William Raveis Real Estate on Bartlet Street and has two grown children.