By GAYLA CAWLEY
SWAMPSCOTT — Two incumbents are vying to retain their seats on the School Committee.
Suzanne Wright and Gargi Cooper could face a challenge from Melissa Camire, who also pulled nomination papers for a chance to fill one of the two open seats.
Wright and Cooper are running for a second, three-year term on the school committee.
Candidates have until March 3 to obtain nomination papers and until March 7 to return them. Fifty certified signatures are required for a candidate to appear on the ballot. The local election is April 25.
Wright said she decided to run because she is enjoying the whole process of being on the committee. She said it took almost a full year to get up to speed after initially being elected.
“Now, I feel we’re working really well as a committee,” Wright said. “It’s been really rewarding.”
If re-elected, Wright said she is looking forward to some new projects, including seeing a new school get built. School officials intend to submit a statement of intent to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by April. Officials are seeking state support for one or several new school buildings in Swampscott, which would be for a new elementary or middle school.
Wright said she wants to be a part of the continuation of the mental health initiative in town. Two new programs were recently unveiled at Swampscott High School, aimed at providing a supportive environment for students suffering from mental or emotional health concerns. Wright said she wants to see those programs introduced at the middle school. She also wants to see a comprehensive technology plan for the entire district.
Cooper said she decided to run for a second term because she believes in her tenure, the committee has created transparency between the school department and the community.
“I feel that we have made positive movement on many initiative(s) that help unite resources for the town and the school department,” Cooper said in an email. “The school department underwent a large amount of changes over the past three years during my term and I am proud that during this process a lot of important initiatives have occurred, including a new facilities director that has helped unite the school and town on improving our aging facilities.
“I believe continuity is also important in our school department and feel that I will help continue this positive momentum,” she said.
Camire could not be reached for comment.
uAmy O’Connor, vice-chair of the school committee, also spoke about the importance of continuity on the board, and endorsed her fellow members. If Wright and Cooper win, she said it would be the first time in more than 10 years that there is consistency on the board.
“With all the turnovers in school leadership in the past decade, Swampscott can’t seem to maintain any traction,” O’Connor wrote in a text message. “Hopefully, we will this time … We’ve had so many (superintendents) and principals. This is traction we need. We are in the midst of making difficult decisions.
“If you had asked me two years ago if I would support their re-election, I’m not sure what my answer would have been,” O’Connor said. “It was a slow start. But I can say categorically that I support them now. We disagree on a lot, but it is great discourse and positive friction. Each one of us is pushing the others to be our best.”
There is one open seat on the Planning Board. Angela Ippolito, chairwoman of the board, is running for a second five-year term.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to run again for another term,” Ippolito said. “I love the work that we do on the planning board. I think it’s really important.”
Ippolito said the planning board is the authority for site plan review. She said the board manages the town’s zoning bylaws and any change comes before it. The board doesn’t look at zoning as putting restrictions on what a developer can do, but rather as trying to encourage the right type of development in town.
She said the board also develops and executes a master plan. The town’s master plan was completed last spring, and will be implemented over a 10-year period. Many municipal departments and boards have responsibility for various parts of the plan, but the planning board coordinates and oversees the process, she added.
Ippolito said she also wants to continue to work on spearheading the town’s effort to purchase White Court, the former Marian Court College, and utilize the property for a public use. The 6.2-acre site is owned by the Sisters of Mercy.
“We are doing all those things finally,” she said. “I feel that it’s a board working really well together.”
As reported in The Item on Wednesday, Naomi Dreeben and Laura Spathanas, chair and vice-chair of the Board of Selectmen respectively, have announced they will be running for a second, three-year term. Both said they want to continue to see town projects move forward, as part of their reason for running.
There are four other open seats in town, and all of the incumbents are running. As of Thursday afternoon, no challengers have pulled papers. Only Michael McClung, town moderator, has returned his papers and is guaranteed to appear on the ballot, according to Town Clerk Susan Duplin. He is running for a second, one-year term.
William Sullivan is running for another three-year term on the Board of Assessors. Martha Dansdill is trying for another three-year term on the Board of Health.
Duplin said local elections usually average about 20 percent voter turnout.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.