After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to run again for a seat on the Ayer Board of Selectmen. I will do my best to remain in an upright position this time around, as fate had other plans for me last year the night before the election.

Much has happened during the past year that has brought voters together with opinions and actions that have been well thought out and acted upon.

The voter approval of the renovation of the Ayer-Shirley Regional High School was certainly one of the year's highlights, and rightfully so. The vote to become more financially involved in the Ayer-Shirley Middle School was positive and fair to both towns. I think the defeat of a request to change the town clerk and treasurer positions to appointed rather than elected was the correct response from the voters. I, too, thought it was a power grab.

I think Ayer does need a finance manager, but timing is everything. What about the approved sex offender bylaw, it is terrific! Should it come to pass that our bylaw is, in some way or ways, unconstitutional, we look at it again, look at the constitutional issues and rewrite it. Until then, IT STANDS.

The turn onto Sandy Pond Road heading towards town coming off of Westford Road is very dangerous. I drive a bus and I have to go into the opposite lane turning onto Sandy Pond Road from Westford Road to avoid striking those large rocks. The old roadway behind the school house should be reopened for one-way traffic coming off of Westford Road onto Sandy Pond Road. We can't exclude truck traffic on Sandy Pond Road; the businesses would suffer. We need to look at any available funding to assist us with reopening that cut-through roadway behind the schoolhouse.

The downtown area has come alive with new businesses, hopefully increasing foot traffic and generating a more positive economic impact on our town. A lot of positive things are going on, we need to remain on the positive track.

Mr. Maxant is running for re-election to the board. I am not going to bash Mr. Maxant or make any negative remarks. I don't need to. I am running for selectman for the same reasons as before. I have been around here a long time, I worked for local government for about 16 years. I have three children in the Ayer-Shirley school system. I have been in the general area since 1958. I have resided in Ayer for approximately 19 years.

The Board of Selectmen is there to represent the best interests of the town and its voters, not to represent personal interest. I intend to represent the voters the best I can and to listen to their opinions and ideas. I believe in absolute fairness to everyone and that everyone has the right to be heard. I don't believe the BOS should be involved in the hiring process of policemen, firefighters or DPW employees -- that should be up to the heads of those departments who are the experts in those fields. Department heads should set their own hiring process and only go before the board with their final choice, what expertise do board members have in those professions? NONE.

I know I can get along with fellow board members and be respectful regardless of what is going on. In my former law enforcement career, I was called upon countless times to be the "mediator," an experience that will serve the board well. There are many challenges ahead and I look forward to those challenges.

I ask you for your vote and, if you don't like me, vote for me anyway.

MARK W. COULTER

Ayer