This month, Andover News is publishing profiles of the candidates running for select board and school committee in the 2024 Andover Town Election on March 26 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. Today’s profile is from Ellen Keller, who is one of four candidates running for two open seats on the select board.
All Andover News coverage of the town election on March 26 will be available free to non-subscribers as a service to Andover voters. Please consider supporting local news by subscribing to Andover News.
Family: Husband Kevin, at mental health professional at Anna Jacques Hospital, daughter Sarah and son William. Both children are grown and graduates of Andover High School.
Education: Bachelors degree and Cobb Fellow from Colgate University, commercial real estate certificate from Cornell University.
Occupation: Executive Vice President of Ozzy Properties, a commercial real estate developer.
Qualifications for Office
What prompted you to run for elect office?
I am so proud to live in the Town of Andover. I have lived here, in the same modest home, for nearly 30 years. My husband, Kevin, and I moved here in 1994 with two very small children. They attended the public schools including South Elementary and West Middle and are proud graduates of Andover High. Kevin is a warden for AVIS and volunteers on town conservation land. Our dog, Nigel, a Springer Spaniel, is a certified pet therapist and has donated his time visiting downtown businesses, the safety center and municipal services buildings.
I grew up in a home where volunteerism and giving back was practiced regularly. I feel very strongly in supporting my community and have been building my municipal resume. I am a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and I am the Chair of the Permanent Town Building Advisory Committee. I am a graduate of the inaugural class of the Andover Leadership Academy. I have attended many Economic Development Committee meetings, and I participated in the grassroots work done to secure the Historic Mill Overlay District. It is critically important that a member of the Select Board have a solid understanding of how our town works, and I have the strongest resume of any current candidate.
In addition, I have worked in town for nearly 25 years. As a commercial property manager, I have overseen the development of Dundee Office Park and the River Bend Mill in Andover, as well as other large renovation projects in North Andover and Lawrence. I have spent my career working with our tenants, Andover’s small businesses, and know what it takes to balance varying interests to help everyone to thrive. I have solid construction management experience. I have been a board member for the Andover Community Land Trust and the Andover Chamber of Commerce. I am a past President of Temple Emanuel and its Sisterhood. I am the steward of a Little Library on my property. I was a preschool teacher. Now, I want to put all of this experience to work for our town.
I believe that good people must do this work, and I am very proud to be able to contribute. We cannot simply sit back and expect that the work will be done. It is up to all of us to step up when called upon. It is a duty that I honor and respect, and I know you do too.
I am hoping that the residents of Andover will allow me to take my town experience to the next level and continue to work for the greater good of our community.
On the Issues
What are the most important issues the Select Board will face in your next term?
The Select Board sets policy for the town so it is critically important that we have our priorities clearly defined at a very high level. We must (1) prioritize fiscal responsibility to limit tax increases. Our debt service is too high and this is limiting our ability to complete critical projects; (2) refocus efforts and reconsider the Governance Committee’s recommendation to retain Open Town Meeting as our form of government, and (3) enhance our efforts to support the most vulnerable in our community, our children, our seniors and those with physical and/or mental disabilities. It is fundamental that the Select Board candidates understand both the responsibilities of the Board and its limitations as a policy setting body.
There is a tension that naturally exists between the competing interests of residents that can divide us. It is up to the Select Board to navigate those tensions and guide staff on a path that represents what is best for the community as a whole.
Outline your position, if any, on the Andover’s efforts to comply with the new state housing rules for municipalities in Massachusetts that have MBTA stations and service. What, in your opinion, is the best option for Andover to comply with these rules?
I have been following the efforts of the MBTA Housing Committee studying this law and support their recommendations.
What other issues do you feel are important in this election and/or your specific race?
We must address the physical deficiencies of our High School building. No other building projects should proceed until we have a clear path forward on this issue.
What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?
Experience with the actual work of our town government. I have high level board experience and have been in the trenches doing the work. As stated above, I have been a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for over 6 years, and I am the Chair of the Permanent Town Building Advisory Committee. I am a graduate of the inaugural class of the Andover Leadership Academy. I have attended many Economic Development Committee meetings, and I participated in the grassroots work done to secure the Historic Mill Overlay District. It is critically important that a member of the Select Board have a solid understanding of how our town works, and I have the strongest resume of any current candidate.
What else should voters know about you and your campaign?
I lead by bringing people together. I do not divide. I have spent my career working with small businesses and know what it takes to balance varying interests to help everyone to thrive. I love it here and am proud to call Andover my home. When I move through town, I like what I see and I know how hard our town staff works to keep it that way. We have a great town that is fundamentally well run. But we cannot rest on the past. It is the Select Board’s job to understand where and when to shift focus to meet the needs and expectations of today’s residents. Should the residents agree, I hope they will vote for me.
Previous Candidate Profiles
- Ellen Townson, select board
Key Dates For The 2024 Town Election
The town election is scheduled for March 26. The last day to register to vote in the 2023 Andover election is March 16, 2023. You can register to vote online or by visiting the Town Clerk’s office.
Feb. 27: Deadline to submit a vote by mail application.
March 16: Deadline to register to vote in the March 28 election.
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).