ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Michael Coller is running for Saugus selectman.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — A private investigator and author of two controversial books is seeking a spot on the Board of Selectmen.
Given his law enforcement and investigation background, Michael Coller said he feels confident he can thoroughly research anything that comes before the board and make a well-informed decision in the town’s best interest.
“If you all have the same feelings to vote as one body, what’s the difference between having five different selectmen or just one,” said Coller. “I’m not challenging anyone on the board but I think finer points could be brought out. I’m hoping to create a little more degree of independence.”
Coller is on the Conservation Commission and Library Board of Trustees. He was born and raised in Saugus and graduated from Bridgewater State University with a degree in management.
He has worked as a security professional for 23 years, focusing specifically on large retail firms, criminal investigations, asset protection, and firearm licensing.
In his spare time, he enjoys writing. He takes pride in a series of books he’s working on, the Bruno Johnson series. He’s currently working on the third installment, which follows the main character, a private investigator, as he returns home to uncover political wrongdoings in local government.
Characters in the second book “Bruno Johnson: Against the Grain,” include Missiles, known for her “voluptuous breasts years ago (which) were worthy of being dipped in bronze. However, they now look like tube socks with baseballs sunk in the bottom;” Alisa, “a tiny peanut sized gal with what appeared to be fried eggs for breasts;” and Sue the Moo, who is “as big as a cow with four wrecking balls attached to her body. Two stuck on her chest and the other ones jammed in the seat of her pants.”
Coller maintains that while the plot of the books may mirror local politics, the similarities are “purely coincidental.” He admitted he changed the names of characters in his book to protect the identities of real people but called his work fictional.
Like himself, he said Johnson is a character who refuses to knock on doors; he just opens them.
“I surely have the creativity to research what I need to research to come to a sound decision that will benefit the town,” he said. “This town shouldn’t be a stepping stone. I’m looking for a balance between property taxes and commercial taxes. As far as a new high school, it’s only going to help our property values. I don’t have children in the schools but I support a new high school. It’s going to help our town.”
If elected, Coller hopes to contribute to the revitalization of the town’s waterfront and Cliftondale Square.
“I went to Saugus High School with some of the people who own businesses (in Cliftondale Square),” he said. “It’s not as prominent as Saugus Center with the library and Town Hall. I think it’s gotten kind of dreary while Saugus Center is more welcoming. It needs some work. When I grew up here, it was as busy or busier than Saugus Center.”
Last year, a study of the square using a $10,000 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative grant found that 72 percent of the square’s businesses are independently owned. With more than 192,000 square feet of commercial space, the 66 existing businesses are underutilized, with some retail stores seeing fewer than 30 customers a day.
Coller worked as a commercial fisherman in Saugus, Gloucester, and Boston while putting himself through college and said he has an understanding for the importance of improving the waterfront area.
Town Clerk Ellen Schena said potential candidates can take out papers to run for office in July. Board of Selectmen candidates will be required to obtain 50 signatures and return the papers by Sept. 19.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.