January 31, 2011

Local races shape up

Union Leader Correspondents
DERRY/LONDONDERRY -- All Derry council and school board incumbents will face challengers in their March bids for re-election, while in Londonderry very few incumbents have signed up to run again.
Derry Town Council Chair Brad Benson will ask voters to support him with a second term as councilor at-large, but he will be up against three challengers.
Doug Newell, who has twice run for town council but never been elected, is also seeking the councilor at-large seat.
Newell has served on two charter commissions, is a member of the Derry school district fiscal advisory board and is a founding member of the Alliance of Derry Taxpayers. He said he has started four successful businesses over the span of a 35-year business career.
“Business development is important and I know what goes on in the formation of a business,” Newell said. “I know how businessmen think and I know what might bring them to Derry and what might drive them away.”
Jeff Lawman, who recently ran for the school board, has also thrown his name in for councilor at-large. Lawman has spent 20 years in the quality assurance and reliability engineering industry.
“I have an entire career based on not discussing and philoso­
phizing about issues, but actually solving them,” he said. “If I don’t have an actual solution in mind, I don’t want to waste a bunch of people’s time talking about it.” 

Maria Lebel, wife of state Rep. James Webb of Derry, also filed her candidacy for councilor at-large. Lebel could not be reached for comment. 
Council Vice Chair Neil Wetherbee, who represents District 3, will also seek reelection in March. 
Shannon Coyle, wife of Councilor Kevin Coyle, will vie for the District 3 position. This would be the first public office for Coyle, who works as a police officer in Londonderry. 
“I’ve been watching the town council and its activities over the last six years and I just wanted to take my turn putting forth the effort to improve Derry,” said Coyle. 
“Not everything they’ve done is bad, but I think it’s time to do something a little different and I want to enter my opinion into the ranks of town and move it one step forward.” 
Kevin Coyle, who has one more year on the council, has filed his candidacy for a term on the school board. 
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, with one year left on the town council,” said Coyle. “I’m hoping to add a different voice to the school board. It’s been for a long time that the same people and their friends run and there’s never been some real competition. This year people will have a choice, which I think is good.” 
If elected to the school board, Kevin Coyle said he would fill out the remainder of his council term, with one year of overlap. 
Three others will also be running for two positions on the school board, including incumbent Wendy Smith. Current school board member Mark Grabowski decided not to seek reelection. 
Daniel McKenna, who has served on the school district’s fiscal advisory board for 5 years, will make his first run for a position on the school board in March. McKenna has twice served as a state representative and is a full-time law student. 
“I think the school board has done a good job over the past few years, but I think the next couple years will be challenging and important for the schools,” McKenna said. “I want to bring a new perspective and some new blood to the board.” 
Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien is also seeking her first term on the school board. 
As a homeschool parent, Prudhomme-O’Brien said she would bring a unique perspective to the board. Prudhomme- O’Brien taught her eldest daughter at home until high school and currently homeschools her 9-year-old daughter. 
“I have a right to have a say because not only am I a taxpayer, but as a homeschooler, I have an interesting perspective on what it means to educate children,” she said. “I think creatively because I’ve educated my daughters on 40 or 50 dollars every year.” 
In Londonderry 
The town’s filing period for both town and school positions began Jan. 19 and ended at 5 p.m. on Jan. 28. 
The terms of School Board members John Robinson and George Herrmann are expiring this March. 
Incumbent Robinson filed for re-election shortly after the filing period opened, School Board Clerk Lynn MacDonald confirmed, though Herrmann previously said he wished to take some time off from politics. 
Residents Glenn Douglas, Nancy Hendricks and Todd Joncas all announced their candidacy for school board over the past week. 
This year’s town openings include two three-year terms on the Town Council, two three-year terms on the Budget Committee, two three-year terms on the trustees of the Leach Library, and one threeyear term on the trustees of the trust funds. 
The terms of town councilors Paul DiMarco and Mike Brown expire this March, along with the terms of Budget Committee members Don Jorgensen, Dan Lekas and Mark Oswald. 
Neither DiMarco nor Brown is seeking another council term. DiMarco served a single town council term and previously was on the Planning Board, while Brown previously served on the Budget Committee, the zoning board and had been a town councilor for the past two terms. 
Three residents, Deborah Shimkonis Nowicki, Tom Freda and Joe Green, will vie for the two open council seats. 
On the Budget Committee, just one of the three incumbents, Dan Lekas, is seeking re-election. Residents Chris Melcher and Tom Dalton have also filed for Budget Committee. 
Seeking to fill two library trustee positions are John Velliquette, William Bringhurst and Karen Goodman. 
John Velliquette and Donald Moskowitz will vie for the sole opening on the trustees of the trust funds. 

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