Kevin Coffey, shown at special town meeting in November, has an early lead in a four-way race for select board (Dave Copeland/Andover News)

With just two months to before contested races for select board and school committee, more than 81 percent of respondents to an Andover News survey believe Andover schools and government are worse today than they were ten years ago.

That bodes well for Kevin Coffey, who led all candidates when respondents were asked who they would vote for in the four-way race for two open select board seats. Coffey (30%), was trailed by Ellen Townson (22%), George Thorlin (17%), and Ellen Keller (17%). Thirteen percent of respondents said “other” or “undecided.”

All of the survey respondents identified themselves as “likely voters.” The Andover News election survey was not a scientific poll, with random sampling and weighting by race, income, education and other factors, but should instead be viewed as a broad gauge of public sentiment. Follow-up surveys will be conducted in February and a week before the March 26 election.

Jayashree Mohandas, who picked up the endorsement of School Committee Chair Tracey Spruce, led all school committee candidates with 27 percent. Incumbent Susan McCready (21%) was followed by Andover High School senior Chris Shepley (20 percent). Nineteen percent of respondents said “other” or “undecided.” Spruce is not running for reelection.

“Watching a school committee meeting is very difficult,” one respondent said. “Members seem to exist in an alternate universe.

In a section where survey respondents could leave comments, many listed the next step for Andover High School after a plan to build a new one was shot down as a top issue. Many respondents also raised concerns about spending, tax increases and transparency.

“The majority of the town is not engaged in politics,” one respondent wrote. “Many decisions are made in the interest of the loud minority. The select board will need to solicit the input of the broader community.”

“Absolutely no fiscal responsibility exhibited by the Select Board…..always tax and spend,” another added.

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