Veno, Koepke will not seek re-election

Feb 8, 2018 by

Published in the February 8, 2018 edition

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — The annual town election just got a little more interesting with announcements this week by both Joe Veno and Julie Koepke that neither will seek re-election to their respective seats.

Veno is stepping down from both his seat on the Community Planning Commission (CPC), which would be a three-year term, and his seat on the North Reading Housing Authority, a five-year term, when his current terms expire in May.

There are two seats up for renewal on the CPC this year currently held by incumbents Veno and William Bellavance. As of press time, Bellavance had not pulled nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s office, but all candidates have until Tuesday, March 20 at 5 p.m. to return the minimum of 50 signatures of certified North Reading voters to ensure their name gets on the ballot.

Only one seat is up for renewal on the Housing Authority.

Koepke now joins Jerry Venezia in declining to seek re-election to the school board. Venezia announced on Jan. 16 that he was stepping down after he completed this term after serving on the board since 1999.

Political newcomer Richard F. McGowan pulled nomination papers for one of the two School Committee seats in January.

The annual town election is Tuesday, May 8.

Koepke served for one three-year term. In announcing her decision she told the Transcript, “I ran for School Committee to help better our great school system in North Reading. I feel that my experience as a parent and teacher enabled me to do that. I was able to actively participate in many discussions, like contract negotiations, the adoption of a new math curriculum, and school district capital improvements.”

Koepke added, “I walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for all of the people who make our schools inviting and exciting centers of learning.”

She offered her thanks to her fellow board members as well as Superintendent Jon Bernard and Director of Finance and Operations Mike Connelly “for your tireless work on behalf of our schools.” Koepke also thanked the town’s residents for their support. “It was an honor to represent you and advocate for our exceptional schools,” she said.

Veno will continue to volunteer

Although he is stepping away from his elected positions, Veno will continue to serve the town in numerous volunteer capacities as he is currently a member of five other appointed boards and committees in town.

Veno is a member of the Council on Aging, Commission on Disabilities, Recycling Committee and two veterans groups, the Veterans Memorial Committee and the Veterans Events Committee. A resident of the town for over 60 years and a 1964 graduate of NRHS, Veno saw active duty with the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War. “I’m also still a representative to Mystic Valley Elder Services,” he said. MVES is based in Malden and serves senior citizens in numerous communities, including North Reading.

Veno’s service to the town as an elected official dates back to 1994 when he was elected to his first of three consecutive three-year terms, serving until 2003. In 2003, he lost a three-way race for two seats on the board but ran again in 2004 and served two more consecutive terms through 2010. In 2010, he lost a three-way race for two seats, and in 2011 he lost with one seat up for grabs.

Concurrently, he was first elected to the Housing Authority in 2008 and re-elected for his current five-year term in 2013.

With a resume like this it would be an understatement to say that Veno enjoys giving back to his hometown.

As a member of the CPC, Veno said he enjoyed contributing to help shape ongoing changes taking place in town, particularly the footprint along the Route 28 business corridor.

“I was impressed with all the projects that I had input on,” Veno said, who was elected to his CPC seat as a write-in candidate. He had decided to do so after “no one had come forward to run” for the open seat on the board three years ago.

“I have just decided to sit back a little bit. I did 15 years on the Board of Selectmen, two terms on the Housing Authority and one term on the Community Planning Commission,” he said.

After 28 years of combined service to the town in elected positions and countless hours spent on numerous other volunteer committees, it’s safe to say that Joe has earned the time off to spend with his wife Diane and their children and grandchildren.

Other seats up for renewal

Two three-year terms are up for renewal on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbent Steve O’Leary has already pulled his nomination papers to retain his seat. Incumbent Selectman Kathryn Manupelli had not announced her intentions as of press time.

Incumbent Town Moderator John Murphy has also pulled his nomination papers to seek his 14th consecutive term. It is the only one-year seat on the ballot.

March 20 deadline

Tuesday, March 20 at 5 p.m. is the deadline for candidates to return their nomination papers to the office of the Town Clerk. Nomination papers must be endorsed by a minimum of 50 certifiable signatures of registered North Reading voters to be included on the ballot. Town Clerk Barbara Stats advises all candidates to obtain more than the minimum number of signatures by the deadline to cover any potentially disqualified signatures.

Once a candidate is certified as eligible to run for an elective office, the last day that candidate can choose to withdraw his or her name from the ballot is Thursday, April 5 at 5 p.m.

The last day a resident of the town can register to vote to participate in the May 8 annual town election is Wednesday, April 18 at 8 p.m. Town Hall will be open late on both of those dates to accommodate voters, as mandated by state law, Stats said. Early voting is not available for any local elections in the state, she added.

Candidates for any municipal office are required to file campaign finance reports on specific dates per the provisions of Mass. General Law Chapter 55. Those with questions about this process may contact the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance for assistance by phone: 617-727-8352, email: ocpf@cpf.state.ma.us or visit the website at www.mass.gov/ocpf.

For additional assistance the public may also call the Town Clerk’s office at 978-357-5218.

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