This is the first in a series of articles profiling the candidates running for North Reading Board of Selectmen.
Selectman Steve O’Leary is up for re-election to the board this May. He was first elected to the board in 1988 and has only taken a few years off since then.
O’Leary grew up in North Reading and has raised his family in town. In addition to his 20-plus years on the Board of Selectmen, he spent 12 years on the Hillview Commission and plans to continue to “give back” to the town.
There are a lot of issues he would like to tackle in the coming years and still feels strongly about every one of them, he said.
“I still haven’t lost my passion for it all,” he said.
The wastewater project, long-term water needs, ensuring public safety and public health are just a few of those issues.
He would like to move the wastewater project forward to set the town up for both economic and commercial growth in the right areas of town, meaning the Concord and Main Street areas.
The proposal under consideration is to build a wastewater treatment facility in town and possibly tie some portion of it in with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) or the South Essex Water Sewerage District. This would be a $48 to 50 million project that could be five to 10 years away, O’Leary said.
He also mentioned the major parcel of land yet to be developed on Route 62 near the , which is an ongoing project.
Some projects are years in the making and he and other members of the board have a long-range vision, O’Leary said. It shows you how “slowly the wheels of government move,” he said.
O’Leary provides continuity and historical perspective to the board, he said. As a long-time resident and active community member, he knows where the town has been, what happened and “why we should or shouldn’t go there again,” he said.
According to O'Leary, as a professional bank examiner, he has a "clear understanding of budgets, mandates and compliance issues all of which bode well for ensuring sound management for the town."
He has two boys who went through the North Reading school system. In addition to working full time and volunteering his time on the Board of Selectmen, he coached his kids through soccer, basketball and baseball, which he calls “a valuable experience.” He has been contributing to the community in a different capacity for most of his life, and will continue to do so, he said.
The annual election will be on May 8.