ELECTION'S EARLY LOOK: Brief profiles of those who have taken out nomination papers for major offices in the annual town election, set for Saturday, April 1.
How many cheerleaders do you know who are 54 years old? Consider Diane Mahon, seeking reelection to the Board of Selectmen for a three-year term.
On the board since 1999, she leads cheers for the town as an enthusiastic public official and as assistant varsity cheerleading coach at Arlington High School.
3 key challenges
The three key challenges she says Arlington faces are, in this order, issues raised by public schools, the Mugar site and the current national political climate. Here is how says she would address each with an aim to improve Arlington:
-- Schools: "Arlington's growing school enrollment and the financial pressure that puts on both operating budgets and building space are among the challenges I hope to continue working on if reelected ....
"Last year, I served as cochair of Build Arlington's Future, which resulted in the successful June debt exclusion to address these very needs. As a member of the School Enrollment Task Force, I am working with others on the local level on a plan to address the Thompson, Hardy and Ottoson Middle School educational needs due to our rising number of students who are looking to Arlington for the best quality education they deserve.
"I am excited for the opportunity to work on future school projects regarding garnering community support for Arlington High School and Minuteman, as well as the needs of our other elementary schools as they arise."
-- The Mugar Site and other open spaces: "I have worked for many years on preserving the Mugar site, and with the most current 40B proposal looming over Arlington, it is one of my highest priorities to work as a selectman and with our town officials to ensure we find a way to maintain this valuable land as open space. I have worked with my colleagues to unanimously vote our opposition to this proposal which would damage the fabric of all of Arlington and the exacerbation of the already existing significant flooding conditions that affect all of us.
"I also look forward to continuing my work on seeking opportunities to preserve other Arlington open space parcels, whether through town funding, Community Preservation Act funding or other resources or grant opportunities that currently exist. I have many visions of what could be done in Arlington, and I hope to continue on in my capacity as a selectman in providing ideas on how we can all grow as a community into the future."
-- Working in the current U.S. political climate: "The need to maintain the community cohesion that we now have in the face of the divisive national political environment is another challenge facing all of us today and in the future. I have worked on many committees in the town as a Selectman and a private citizen on neighborhood and local issues. Over the span of my 20-plus years of public service, I have come to realize the importance of having vibrant civic engagement in our town.
"I feel one of my strengths is the ability to positively engage with others to work cohesively and effectively through local levels to help work toward continuing to make Arlington a welcoming and respectful community to everyone."
Why run again?
Asked why she is seeking reelection, Mahon wrote Feb. 4 that she wants "to continue helping all of Arlington's residents. This position has truly been one of the most gratifying, sometimes demanding, but always the most rewarding job in my desire to make Arlington the best place to work, live and raise a family."
Her role in last year's campaign to support debt-exclusion votes "has reinvigorated me to come full circle from where my community-service roots began, and that is in working to provide the best education we can for all of our kids regardless of the way they learn or any other needs they may have.
"Recognizing and facing the challenge of the opiate epidemics that is so prevalent -- not only throughout the state, but also in Arlington -- is another serious issue I want to continue to work on.
"Thanks to our town leaders, police chief and his department, I feel we have put in a program to address this issue with compassion, collaboration and the long-term necessary follow-up with the innovative programs we've implemented."
Continuing as a selectman, she wrote, would benefit the "civic engagement that has strengthened the Arlington we know today as a result of the many projects I have and will continue to hope to work on ....
"I truly feel I have many more contributions that I can make to Arlington, and I can honestly say I have the same enthusiasm to serve as a selectman as I had when I first started. I am truly honored to serve as a selectman and am always grateful to Arlington when they deem it fit to reelect me in that capacity."
Asked to detail her qualifications to be a selectman, she cited her current role as board chair. Further, since the 1990s, she wrote that her experience as an elected Town Meeting member for Precinct 14 "has afforded me the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge around the workings of our town government." Background as a cheerleading coach allows her to interact with student athletes and fellow coaches and listen to their hopes and concerns.
Last, she wrote, her day job as a professional court reporter in Massachusetts and Rhode Island "has given me great insight and knowledge regarding state and federal laws and their possible implications to our town."
The graduate of Arlington High School moved to Arlington in 1969 and first attended Hardy School while living on Egerton Road. She now lives near Ottoson.
No one beyond the two incumbents, Dan Dunn and Mahon, took out papers to seek reelection.
In the 2014 annual town election, Mahon and Dunn were reelected, receiving 3,121 and 3,226 votes, respectively. Bob Tosi Jr. lost, but not by much, 3,088 votes.
In 2011, Mahon and Dunn won, with 4,485 and 4,247 votes, respectively. Maria Romano received 3,065.
Campaign website: www.facebook.com/Diane.Mahon.for.Selectman
2017 town election: YourArlington information
June 13, 2016: UNANIMOUS -- Town voters say yes, yes, yes in all precincts
This news summary was published Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017
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