Over the coming weeks, Andover News is publishing profiles of the candidates running for select board, moderator and school committee in the 2023 Andover Town Election on March 28 to help voters make decisions. You can also view all Andover News election coverage.
Responses are from a questionnaire sent to all candidates in February and, in some cases, have been edited for length and clarity. First up is Kevin Coffey, a first-time candidate who will challenge incumbent Laura Gregory for a seat on the Andover Select Board.
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Family: Deirdre, my wife of 39 years, is a middle-school ELL teacher in Lowell. Our son, Brian, is an energy consultant advising the US DOE on efficiency regulations. Our daughter, Caitrín, is a VA hospital rheumatologist. We have four grandchildren, with a fifth due in May.
Education: Mechanical Engineering and Management degrees from MIT in 1984.
Campaign Website: https://www.kevincoffey.org
Occupation: After a career leading international technology businesses, I now work as an independent consultant and investor supporting other business leaders.
More about Kevin Coffey: My mother was a career educator—a special education and honors English teacher, counselor, principal, and district program leader—who gave me a deep appreciation for the challenges and importance of strong schools. That, together with the daily observations and questions that come home with my teacher-wife, make school performance a priority for me. My father came up through a sheet metal trade union before managing mechanical contractor operations; he taught me to dig in and get my hands dirty, building an addition on our house, rebuilding my first car engine, and changing my own brakes and oil. I am a thinking doer.
Qualifications for Office
What prompted you to run for public office?
Concern that the rate of increases in Town spending and property taxes are unsustainable and that far too few questions are being asked about the priority and effectiveness of the “investments” we are making. Our Town leaders should have clear goals and measures, better plans for maintenance and replacement of assets without need of special additional taxes or debt, and far more understandable and interactive communications with residents.
Experience relevant to serving in elected office:
Leading business organizations working across cultures and around the world throughout my career has taught me how to build teamwork and consensus even while making tough tradeoff decisions.
What differentiates you from your opponent?
I am very engaged and attentive, do my homework, and ask lots of probing questions. A natural contrarian, I “argue the opposite” as discipline to better understand all sides of an issue.
Anything else Andover voters should know about your candidacy?
I have never run for elected office and do not intend to make politics a second career. I want to bring my perspective, problem-solving abilities, work ethic, and people focus to the Select Board to improve our Town, then get out of the way so the next passionate citizen can contribute.
On the Issues
Andover News asked candidates a series of questions on issues facing the board or committee they are running for, as well as general issues the town is likely to face during the candidate’s term.
Select Board Issues
What are the most important issues facing Andover that the select board will need to address in the next three-year term?
• Financial sustainability. We all want a strong school system and other great Town programs but seniors, young families, and small businesses alike are increasingly feeling the burden of rapid tax increases.
• Setting priorities, goals, and metrics for the Town leadership team that ensure alignment to community expectations.
• Rebuilding confidence and trust with genuine listening, clear information, full disclosure, candor and honesty, and squeaky-clean ethics.
What other select board issues are important?
• Financial strength, education, and important social services are allies, not enemies. Only a sound financial footing creates real possibility to debate, choose, and act meaningfully on our priorities.
• Good initial work was done by the past Town Governance Study Committee, but more debate is needed to find a Town decision-making structure to serve us well for the decades ahead.
Building a new Andover High School
If the school committee were to vote on a recommendation for a new Andover High School to town meeting today, how would you vote? Why? What new information could or would sway your vote in the opposite direction?
While investment in effective education of our next generations is critically important to me and is surely a defining part of Andover, the school building committee has not disclosed any cost estimate for the project and has not shown the linkages between priorities in the proposed building and key elements of the education plan required to improve the education of our students.
We undoubtedly need to make a significant investment in the high school sometime soon to overcome real deficiencies there, but without more candid discussion, I cannot at this time say that the current proposals would improve educational outcomes and would thus be a good investment of taxpayer money.
Courtesy photo submitted by Kevin Coffey.
Key Dates For The 2023 Town Election
The town election is scheduled for March 28. The last day to register to vote in the 2023 Andover election is March 18, 2023. You can register to vote online or by visiting the Town Clerk’s office.
March 15, 7 pm at Memorial Hall Library: Andover/North Andover League of Women Voters’ Candidates Forum
March 18: Deadline to register to vote in the March 28 election.
March 21: Deadline to submit a vote by mail application.
March 28: Election Day. Polls open 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. (completed mail-in ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day).