EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 22, 2008

With primary over, residents turn attention to local issues

With New Hampshire's presidential primary behind them, residents can now turn their attention to electing local officials and making decisions that have a more direct impact on their pocketbooks.

The filing period for town and school offices, including selectmen and school board posts, opens tomorrow. Incumbents will have to make up their minds on whether to run again, while other residents will decide whether to throw their hats into the political ring.

For $1, residents can sign up to run for paid elected positions. There is no charge to sign up to run for a planning board seat or other unpaid posts.

To become a candidate, a resident must be a registered voter and a legal resident of the town in which they are seeking office. Residents can sign up to run for local office at town clerks' offices and school district offices through Friday, Feb. 1.

Area town clerks are hoping the high level of interest among voters in this year's presidential primary will carry over to the local elections.

"I've heard people talking about the presidential primary, and in the next sentence, they're talking about the local elections," Atkinson Town Clerk Linda Jette said. "They're interested in politics, whether it's national or local."

Decisions made in local elections affect tax rates, town services and school districts, she said.

Windham Town Clerk Joan Tuck said many of the 503 new voters casting ballots in the Jan. 8 primary were young, including some in their teens.

"I'm wondering if they will turn out for the town election," she said. "They probably had more interest in the primary because the primary and the president are their future."

Local towns will hold Town Meeting and school district deliberative sessions starting next month. But the actual ballot voting won't take place until March 11. On that day, voters will elect local officials and decide on a wide range of warrant articles, including town and school budgets, zoning amendments, and proposals for major improvements to town and school facilities.

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