Fourteen members and five guests of the West Newbury Democratic Town Committee met at 11:30 am at the Annex of the Town Offices, 183 Main Street.
Chair Jim Sperelakis called the meeting to order at 11:30 am. He introduced guest Nancy Barry who has recently moved to town from Rowley, Ken Thompson, Boxford, Chair of the Boxford Town Committee and also a State Committee member for the First Essex and Middlesex State Senate district, and Lisa Forbush Umholtz of West Newbury, a frequent attendee at the WNDTC meetings, and who has not yet been voted in as a member. Later, state rep candidate Adrianne Ramos joined the meeting. Matt Chilliak, Campaign Manager for Rep. Seth Moulton, was also in attendance.
The first order of business was a proposed change of leadership. Jim explained that he has been chair for seven years, has now taken on the chairmanship of the 3T&2C organization and is very involved with the various fundraisers. Therefore, he is seeking to have someone else serve as chair of the WNDTC. Jim introduced the other current officers: Rob Phillips, Treasurer, David Belsky, Vice-chair, and Pat Skibbee, Secretary.
Jeanne Pucci moved to thank Jim for his long and excellent service, and to nominate David Belsky for new Chair; seconded by Pat Skibbee; David accepted the nomination and was voted in unanimously.
David Belsky nominated and Pat Skibbee seconded Becc O’Brien for new Vice-chair. Becc accepted the nomination and was voted in unanimously. Jim invited Becc to talk about her various activities on behalf of Democrats, which she did impressively.
Jeanne Pucci nominated Pat Skibbee to remain as secretary, Sue Dougherty seconded, Pat accepted the nomination and was voted in unanimously.
Treasurer Rob Phillips was nominated by Pat Skibbee to remain in that position. Michael Fosburg seconded. Rob accepted but explained that he plans to withdraw from the position in January, 2023. No one present volunteered to take over in January, but Barry Fogel (not present) has “been asked and didn’t say no." Rob was voted in unanimously.
Next, Rob gave the treasurer’s report. We have $1,557.00 presently. This led to a discussion of whether we want to keep funding the $1,000 per year Kathy Pasquina Civic Engagement Scholarship, or whether our funds are better spent donated to campaigns, especially in an election year, which 2022 is. Further discussion focused on other sources of funds: The summer brewery events which yield about $700 for our committee and annual donations. Annual donations have fallen off due to remote/Covid meetings. Also brought up was the annual difficulty in getting students to apply for the scholarship. Rob suggested expanding the student pool by offering the scholarship to students in all the 3T&2C towns, giving $500 per town and getting the cooperation of other towns to increase the amount. Jeanne Pucci reported that the WN Garden Club also has trouble getting students to apply for its scholarships. Jo Megna-Wallace stated that she has questioned the spending of our limited funds on the scholarship rather than on candidates. Jessica Azenaro suggested keeping the scholarship alive by offering it every other year or even every fourth year, but not annually.
Rob Phillips moved and Jeanne Pucci seconded a motion to suspend the scholarship for this year. A yes vote was unanimous.
Pat Skibbee encouraged the attendees and all members to contribute to the WNDTC by sending a check to Rob or contributing through Act Blue.
Pam Wool of Newbury presented and answered questions on the Fair Share Amendment which is #1 on the November ballot.
New Chair David Belsky moved and Becc O’Brien seconded that we formally endorse Adrianne Ramos for state rep. The yes vote was unanimous.
Matt Chiliak spoke about Seth’s re-election campaign, mentioned his apparently very conservative opponent Bob May, and explained that the congressman is participating in the coordinated campaign, and that Seth was going to be holding a town hall in Newburyport on Monday, October 17, at 6 pm at the City Hall, his first since Covid.
Jim introduced State rep candidate Adrianne Ramos, citing her family law practice, her work on immigrant issues, the fact that she has three children in the North Andover public school system, and that she and her husband own a childcare business. Adrianne spoke about the vital necessity of getting out the vote, that she has knocked at least 1,000 doors herself, her organization between 4,000 and 5,000. She said Groveland is the toughest town in which to make voter headway. Jeanne Pucci advised Adrianne to publicly counter the misinformation and encouraged letters to the editor. Becc O’Brien said Adrianne’s events are on our WNDTC website.
Jim Sperelakis announced to Adrianne (who had stepped out of the room as requested) that the committee had voted to formally endorse her for state rep and to donate $1,000 to her campaign.
The formal meeting adjourned at 1:22 pm. Attendees were invited to take yard signs/literature/post cards and cookies.
David Belsky thanked all for their attendance, participation and active campaigning.