EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 20, 2013

Candidates questioned about commuter rail

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — The controversial issue of bringing the commuter rail into town was just one of several issues which was discussed at the board of library trustees’ Candidate’s Night last night.

Eleven candidates were on hand last night, including three running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbent John Sherman and challengers Bruce Skofield and Joyce Ingerson were asked by the audience their thoughts on the possible expansion of the commuter rail into Plaistow.

“At this time, I don’t think we’re ready to look at what’s being proposed,” Ingerson said. “However, I do think it’s important to watch the studies and see what happens. We need to listen to the town and let them tell us what they think is right for the town.”

Skofield said he is skeptical of bringing the commuter rail into town.

“I think it needs a lot more review and I want to be on the board to go over this and be a part of that decision,” he said.

Sherman said he is in favor of studying all the options for bringing the commuter rail into town, but is wary about a layover station in Plaistow.

“We will see what the study produces but if the layover station turns out to be in Plaistow, it will be a difficult portion of the project to accept,” he said. “That might be a showstopper, if that turns out to be what the recommendation says.”

The three candidates also made their pitch for being the best person for the job.

Skofield said keeping people in Plaistow would be one of his major goals.

“I’d like to see Plaistow as a nice place for people who are retiring, but at the same time, keeping young people around so they can help us grow,” Skofield said.

Ingerson cited her years of experience on various town committees as one of the reasons she is best qualified for the Board of Selectmen.

“I have a lot to bring to this board, but what is important to me is to represent what the people want from this town,” she said.

Sherman said he hopes the community will let him continue serving the board as he has since 2001.

“I really care about this town and I think we’ve done a lot of great things over the last twelve years,” he said.

Four out of the five candidates for the town’s other contested race appeared at the forum. James Peck, Jane Query, Michael Schosser and LuAnn Blair all are running for two three-year terms as library trustees. Douglass Kimball was not at the forum.

Blair spoke about making the library more technologically savvy.

“I would like the library to transform from a place dedicated to print to moving into the digital age,” Blair said.

Peck said his years on the Budget Committee would translate well into a treasurer position on the board.

“I have a strong budgeting background and I have the time and desire to be an advocate for the library,” he said.

Schosser said libraries will remain important even as more people research information from home.

“Even with computers, there is always going to need someone who will need assistance,” he said. “The library might change, but the fundamentals of it will never change.”

Query said the library is a vital part of the town’s culture and history.

“Having a healthy, vibrant library in the community is one of our most important resources,” she said.

Also appearing at the forum were unopposed candidates Shem Kellogg for the Planning Board and John Moynihan for the Conflict of Interest Committee. Tricia Holt and W. David Gerns, who are running for four open spots on the Budget Committee, also spoke.