BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — This is the second of three profiles of the candidates for Danvers selectman. Voters will elect two selectmen to serve three-year terms. The election is May 7.
DANVERS — Selectman Keith Lucy’s mantra is that a selectman’s job is to make sure the town is spending taxpayer’s money wisely.
The biggest issue, he said, is “always taxes ... how you collect and how you spend people’s money, right? That’s always going to be No. 1 for me.”
With the resignation of Selectman Mike Powers earlier this month, Lucy finds himself the most senior member of the board as he runs for his fourth term.
He is also in a tough, three-way race for two selectman seats with Selectman Dan Bennett and former Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge David Mills, a former town moderator. One of Lucy’s colleagues, Selectman Gardner Trask, has been campaigning for Mills and supports Bennett. Selectman Bill Clark has remained neutral but said he intends to see if the board will nominate the loser to fill the rest of Powers’ term, which ends next year.
With three vacancies and three people running — though only two seats will be on the ballot — Lucy said the sense of urgency for voters may have waned.
“I’m not taking anything less seriously, because it’s about ideas and allowing people to ask the questions and get real answers and understand what you are all about,” he said.
Lucy and Powers are credited with coming up with the financing plan for the ongoing Danvers High project, which has been paid for within budget, without the need to go to voters for an override of Proposition 21/2.
Lucy is also an ardent proponent during tax classification time of making sure any tax hikes are spread fairly among homeowners and commercial and industrial property owners.
“It’s simply to maintain this fiscal balance,” Lucy said. “We are into this (tax) classification plan now nine years. I am confident now that enough people understand that it will stay sort of the de facto plan.”
Lucy, who grew up mostly in Topsfield, is a 1982 graduate of Masconomet Regional High and a 1986 graduate of Norwich University. He got married and moved to Danvers in 1993.
He became active in town politics, he said, because of overrides being proposed for the new high school and middle school in the late 1990s and in 2002. These measures failed. About the time of the second override proposal, he ran the camera at Town Meeting for Danvers Cable Access, and he learned the ropes of town politics.
Then, while watching a selectmen’s meeting on TV about tax classification, he said the board “goofed” and took the wrong vote to shift the tax rate.
“I got involved and said, ‘We can fix it.’”
Why is Lucy running again?
“To make sure the financing plan continues,” he said.
During this election season, Lucy also finds himself a defendant in an ongoing court case in Salem District Court brought by Town Meeting member Jack Fratus. Fratus alleged last fall that Lucy assaulted him during an argument at Town Hall, by waving his hand in front of Fratus’ face in a threatening manner. Lucy has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault.
Lucy, who denies doing anything wrong, doesn’t think it will be a big election issue.
“I don’t think it’s an issue for Mr. Mills. I don’t think it’s an issue for Mr. Bennett, I don’t think it’s an issue for the general public,” Lucy said. “I think it’s an issue for some of the folks Mr. Mills is choosing to surround himself with. ...
“When this all plays out, I’m still confident I will be 100 percent vindicated.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.
Occupation: Electrical engineer
Education: Masconomet Regional High, 1982; Norwich University, 1986
Family: Wife, Susan; children, Caroline, 17, and Andrew, 16, both students at Austin Prep in Reading
Town involvement: three-term selectman, president of Danvers Babe Ruth Baseball since 2010, registrar for Danvers Youth Football since 2007, Touchdown Club member