Voters meet prospective School Committee candidate Kayla Biagioni-Smith

Voters Donna Gill and husband Joe met prospective School Committee candidate Kayla Biagioni-Smith (right) on Saturday.

TEWKSBURY — Be­low-freezing temperatures couldn’t keep Tewksbury voters away from a drive-by signing event last Sat­urday to help prospective candidates for local office fill up their nomination forms.

Hosted by Select Board Vice Chair Jayne Well­man, more than 60 people stopped by to support their fellow residents in their quest to be added to the ballot for the April annual town elections.

“The weather is a bit unfortunate,” said Select Board member James Mac­key, citing single digit temperatures, but he expressed his enthusiasm at the high turnout.

Newly registered voter Henry Pestana explained why he showed up to sign nomination forms.

“My mom told me as a new voter I should get my­self involved in local politics and make a change in my community.”

Several prospective can­didates brought their no­mination forms to the event and took the opportunity to talk with residents about their vision for Tewksbury’s future. Residents are not considered candidates until they have returned nomination paperwork to the town clerk’s office with 50 valid signatures of Tewks­bury voters.

Jomarie Buckley, a re­cent Wilmington transplant, pulled papers to run for Select Board.

“I’m very excited to be running to support my new hometown and get to learn more about Tewks­bury,” she said.

She hopes to focus on community infrastructure and supporting growth in town without impacting taxpayers.

Cody Smith grew up in Tewksbury and recently moved back home. An el­ectrician with construction experience, he came out on Saturday to fill up his nomination form with hopes to take incumbent Jay Delany’s seat on the Planning Board. Smith said he was driven to run by a desire to get more involved in the community, citing the October special Town Meeting decision to change the Plan­ning Board term from five years to three years.

“[Three years] is a lot easier,” he said. “It al­lows you to cycle more people through and makes it easier to commit.”

A mother of two students in Tewksbury Pub­lic Schools, Kayla Biagi­oni-Smith is hoping to bring an operational perspective to the School Committee. A risk analyst at John Hancock by day, she wants to focus on balancing budgets and improving policies, and, if elected, is looking forward to the new su­perintendent hiring pro­cess and updating the “slightly outdated” school curriculum.

In addition, Biagioni-Smith has worked in her professional career to open up opportunities for women, people of color, and veterans.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said, “but I’m not one to say no to a challenge.”

Dustin Weir, a longtime Town Meeting attendee, is seeking to stand on the other side of the podium as town moderator, filling a one-year unexpired term vacated by former moderator Todd Johnson’s election to the Select Board.

“Participating in government is important on the local level. I see it as a responsibility,” he said. “At this particular time it’s important to be a ‘moderate moderator’ to facilitate a neutral discussion.”

Nicole Burgett-Yandow was impressed by the “very steady flow of people” at the event. A nurse practitioner with over 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, she is hoping to bring her medical background and in­fectious disease knowledge to the Board of Health to fight the CO­VID-19 pandemic.

Other residents who have pulled papers for open seats include Jere­miah Delaney for Plan­ning Board; Patricia Meuse for Shawsheen Regional Technical School Commit­tee; Richard Russo for School Committee; Su­san Amato for Board of Health; Jayne Wellman for Select Board; and Joseph Frank, Julie Naugh­ton, and Sue Peder­sen for Board of Library Trustees.

Voters were enthusiastic about the slate of potential candidates and praised their willingness to brave the freezing cold.

Said resident Chrissy Con­way, “I’m so excited for the candidates and grateful people have stepped up to run.”

“This is community buil­ding at its finest,” said Beth McFayden while husband Jay added that he’s “excited for the number of people willing to volunteer their time to serve the community — and stand out in the cold.”

“This is a good collection of [prospective] candidates… this is why we came out in two degree weather,” said resident Jason Wala­zek, who hopes that newly elected officials will focus on open space issues in 2022.

“The town is really lucky to have passionate people who care so much,” shared voter Madhu Narayan.

On Thursday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m., Town Clerk Denise Graffeo and the Tewks­bury Public Library will be holding a virtual workshop for residents to learn more about how to run for elected office.

Residents interested in running for local office have until Feb. 11 to pick up and return nomination forms with the signatures of 50 registered Tewksbury voters to Town Hall.

The annual town election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Residents may re­gister to vote through Fri­day, March 11, 2022. For more information, please visit tewksbury-ma.gov/town-clerk or call 978-640-4355.

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