Reading, MA — The Democratic Town Committee hosted a “Meet the Candidates” night on March 16, featuring the three candidates for the two available seats on the Select Board. Each candidate made an opening statement and fielded questions from the gathered audience at the Reading Public Library.
Incumbent Mark Dockser is a 25-year resident of Reading who has served on the Select Board for three years after having served nine years on the Finance Committee. “I’m running for reelection because I believe I have made a positive difference in town,” Dockser shared. Dockser then highlighted some board accomplishments from the past three years, including navigating the pandemic, renewal of the RMLD payment agreement, and the hiring of a new town manager.
Dockser emphasized three themes he would like to focus on moving forward: acting as a compass leading the community, promoting financial stability, and advocating for the needs of senior citizens. When asked why he considers the building of a new senior center to be preferable over remodeling the current Pleasant Street Center, Dockser noted that seniors make up over 27 percent of the community and that many prefer to use senior centers in other towns due to the deficiencies of Reading’s current space, such as the lack of accessible bathrooms and limited rooms. In conclusion, Dockser shared a vision of a Reading that acts with “balance, civility, kindness, and pragmatism.”
Jackie McCarthy is the second candidate for election to the Select Board. McCarthy is a ten-year resident who currently serves on the Finance Committee. She shared her recognition that the town is run on the strength of its volunteers making critical decisions for their neighbors. “We share a common love for this place we call home,” McCarthy noted.
McCarthy indicated three priority areas for her in the coming years: how the town uses the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that balances need with sound fiscal management, empowering the new town manager to ensure the town delivers excellent services, and enhancement of communications between the town government and its residents. “I like to listen more than talk,” McCarthy commented. When asked, McCarthy shared that her capital priorities for the town include the Killam School, an assessment of the senior center, and water and sewer infrastructure upgrades. Her preference is to spend ARPA funds on “shovel-ready, sustainable projects.”
The final candidate for Select Board is Nancy Tawadros. Tawadros has lived in Reading for 18 years and believes that she has a strong ethic of “perseverance, hard work, and tenacity.” She shared that she would like to use her professional skills in people management to help shape and guide policies in town. She also highlighted her volunteer work with underserved populations. “I am ready to be the new voice and fresh perspective on the board,” Tawadros confirmed.
Tawadros indicated that three key issues facing Reading in the coming years are using the ARPA funds, a senior center, and the Killam School project. She stated that she would like to reinstate the Select Board office hours and that she would be a “good steward of override dollars.” Tawadros suggested creativity and outreach to local businesses with underutilized private parking when asked about downtown parking.
“Now is the time for me to serve (in town); not two years ago, it is today,” Tawadros concluded.
The “Meet the Candidates” event concluded with a few minutes of informal conversations between the candidates and attendees. Voters may view the complete “Meet the Candidates” night on RCTV’s YouTube channel. Voters will choose two of these three candidates to serve on the Select Board for three years at the election to be held at the Hawkes Field House at Reading Memorial High School on April 5.