Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

March 20, 2014

Fiscal experience gives O'Donoghue the edge at polls

Andover voters will face just one race when they head to the polls on Tuesday. But it’s an important one.

It’s a critical time for residents of the town. Taxes and spending have become a major concern for many. But it’s as much about how the taxpayers’ money is being spent as it is about the amount of money being spent.

Townspeople have begun to question the way town business is done. And that in itself is a great thing.

Both candidates seeking to replace Mary Lyman on the Board of Selectmen realize the town’s financial house must be a priority. They both agree that spending must be reined in.

On one side, Mary O’Donoghue has the experience to do the job. She has spent 12 years on the Finance Committee and knows the town’s financial situation as well as any official in town. In her time on the board, she’s questioned spending and hardly provided a blank check for town projects.

In fact, she at one point voted against the youth center construction, not because she doesn’t support Andover’s youths, but because the town lacked the full financial package to pay for the entire project.

She’s concerned the town is taxing to its full levy potential. If the town taxed below the levy limit, homeowners would see an immediate savings in their property tax bills, which could average more than $10,000 in a year or two, she argues.

Jodi Oberto, meanwhile, offers a truly fresh perspective. She’s never held elected office, having unsuccessfully campaigned for state senator as an Independent in 2010. The last government meeting she attending was last May’s Annual Town Meeting. She couldn’t be more of an outsider. And that’s part of her appeal.

Oberto is simply a married, working mother of two school-age children who has watched her taxes steadily rise and believes it’s time to speak up. She sees herself as a voice of the people and wants to be part of the solution, part of getting the town living like the average citizen — within its means.

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