As voting was underway in town elections Tuesday afternoon, Andover teachers held signs outside polling places asking for better wages and for their contract to be solidified.

"We would like to have more meetings with the School Committee so we can get to this decision sooner and focus on the return of students," said Matthew Bach, the president of the Andover Educator's Association.

The association previously had asked the committee to do "open negotiations," allowing for taxpayers to see the process unfold, however, the committee declined to do so, Bach said. So, teachers rallied outside polling places Tuesday to let residents know what they are fighting for, he said.

Teachers and staff across the district have been without contracts for this current school year. They started negotiations in February 2020, then put contract negotiations on hold because of the pandemic, Bach said. However, negotiations resumed this past February and have not lead to an agreement yet, he said.

The two sticking points for teachers are wages, especially for instructional assistants, and teacher's duties, Bach said. The School Committee is asking teachers to do too much "clerical work," he said.

"We want to keep teachers' time, energy and resources on our students," Bach said.

The polls were otherwise quiet Tuesday, as only incumbents running unopposed had their names on the ballots.

Only 99 voters had cast ballots in the first precinct by 3 p.m., said Jim Redmond, the precinct clerk. Typically that's the precinct with the highest turnout because voters all live within walking distance, however, even the sunny warm weather couldn't entice voters to talk a walk to the Cormier Youth Center, he said.

At Andover High School fewer than 400 people had cast their ballots in the four precincts by 3 p.m., said Randall Hanson, an Andover elections official and former Town Clerk. 

"Elections are important no matter what," Hanson said. "You make a choice by either coming or not coming to vote."

Christian C. Huntress and Ann W. Gilbert are running for the two Select Board seats. Tracey E. Spruce and Susan K. McCready are running for the two School Committee seats. Melissa M. Danisch and Eric Stubenhaus are running for the two Trustees of the Punchard Free School seats.

Sheila M. Doherty is on the ballot for town moderator, and Marilyn M. Fitzgerald for the Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical School District Commission. Daniel T. Grams is running for the Housing Authority.

Results of Tuesday's election were not available by press time. 

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