I urge your support for Bob Prescott to fill the one-year term opened up by the resignation of Andy Deveau.

I have known Bob Prescott and his family for many years, and I believe he will be an excellent addition to the Board of Selectmen. He is a committed public servant with a proven track record.

Bob served two terms as a member of the Conservation Commission and three terms as an elected member of the Shirley School Committee and Shirley/Ayer Regional School Committee. His experience spans both the opening of the middle school and the change of administration, along with the transformation of our school system into a regional system with Ayer, which encompasses kindergarten through 12th grade. These changes have been complex and required literally hundreds of hours of commitment and work.

Both the construction of the middle school and formation of a region were overwhelmingly supported by Shirley residents at Town Meeting. Bob now offers his experience and time commitment in his run for the Board of Selectmen to address the challenging issues before the town.

Shirley, like many small towns in Massachusetts, has worked hard for years to provide the quality of services our residents deserve: public safety, police, fire, DPW, the proper zoning mix of residential, commercial and industrial, important protection of our environment and drinking water, services and facilities which support and assist our seniors, our veterans, legionaries, and children.

Our regional school education system now offers a curriculum of K-12 that has reduced children choicing out, keeping more dollars in town and positioning itself to win the next contract to educate the Devens children, which will also keep dollars in town.

Balancing all these cost centers and quality-of-life issues, moving the town forward, and excluding no one requires a candidate who understands all issues, possesses a personality that can work openly with others without polarizing individuals or groups; someone who can stay focused on the problems that need to be resolved, not engaging in the blame game; someone who has the patience and fortitude to stick with a problem until it is resolved. That candidate is Bob Prescott.

With the latest information from the state mandating our town raise its minimum net-school spending, I cannot think of anyone else I would want sitting on our Board of Selectmen. Bob not only understands all the nuances of the regional agreement, he has a clear understanding of Shirley's limited resources. Bob also has the respect, rapport and trust of both the Ayer members of our regional committee and regional school administration personnel.

Bob has put forth his goals, which include convening an inclusive tri-board consisting of representatives of the Finance Board, School Committee, Board of Selectmen and municipal officials, a commitment to engage early in the budget process that includes reviewing recommendations of both the DOR Report (Department of Revenue) and the Shirley Town Government Study Committee Report. His approach to addressing townwide issues will be methodical, inclusive, equitable and nonpartisan.

Mr. Prescott's opponent has insinuated that Bob will be (in his own words) "a school candidate." This, of course, is unfounded. It is a divisive effort to distort Bob's commitment to the whole town he loves. I believe a town divided against itself cannot be successful and prosperous.

Please do not allow this outdated, counterproductive philosophy to return to the Board of Selectmen. This election is important. Its outcome will either build upon the business structure and protocol put in place by the past board -- Andy Deveau, Kendra Dumont and Dave Swain -- or divide our community further.

Please join me in casting a vote of confidence for my friend and former colleague, Dave Swain, in his unopposed bid for a third term on the Board of Selectmen and a vote for Bob Prescott in his bid for the one-year term.

CHIP GUERCIO Former member BOS