NORTH ANDOVER — Two newcomers are vying for an open School Committee seat in Tuesday’s election, with a 19-year-old not far removed from being in high school up against a mother with two young girls in the school system.
Mark Mezzina, 19, and Zora Warren, 38, will bring different perspectives to the School Committee when one or the other succeeds Christine Allen, who decided in January not to seek a third, three-year term.
“I think it’s good to have as many different perspectives on the School Committee as possible,” Mezzina said Friday. “Mine’s different and unique, but I think it would add to the discussion. I don’t want everyone to have same voice, same opinion. You need a student. Coming from a different perspective as the rest of the School Committee members, I think that would add value to the School Committee.”
Mezzina is a 2011 graduate of Austin Preparatory School. He attended Covenant Christian Academy in Peabody during his middle school years. Before that, he was home-schooled. In the fall, he attended the University of South Carolina, but transferred to the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
He has three sisters in North Andover public schools.
Last summer, he worked on former School Committee member Karin Rhoton’s effort to win a seat in the state House of Representatives. Rhoton, a Republican, lost in the general election to Methuen Democrat Diana DiZoglio.
Warren, the mother of two daughters, said a parent’s and a former teacher’s point of view is important for the committee.
“I bring to the table a variety of perspectives, teacher, parent, member of the community, taxpayer,” she said. “If elected to the School Committee, I’d be the only member who comes at it with an educational background, which I think adds value to the a variety of perspectives already on the School Committee.”
Warren has lived in North Andover for 10 years, she said, and her husband is from the town.
Both candidates want to improve the School Committee’s transparency and communication with the community. Mezzina said he thought better communication could have smoothed some of the controversy surrounding the switch to so-called standards-based grading.
“Had they made more of an effort to listen to the community earlier on, they could have avoided a lot of the problems they had with that,” he said.
Warren pointed to her effort to get the School Committee to create an email listserv, which allows residents to sign up to automatically receive emails with School Committee agendas and packets ahead of each meeting.
Selectman Rosemary Connelly Smedile, first elected to the board 12 years ago, is unopposed for a fifth three-year term. Smedile owns and operates Connelly Real Estate and served on the Finance Committee before her election to the Board of Selectmen.
This is the first time Smedile has not had an opponent.
Also unopposed is Housing Authority board member Mary Beth Soucy, who is running for a full five-year term. Soucy was appointed to the Housing Authority board to replace her mother, Helen Soucy, who died in May 2008. She was then elected to fill the remainder of the term.
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Vote Tuesday North Andover polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All voting takes place at North Andover High School, 430 Osgood St.