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Hearing Monday on Yeo's run for School Committee

Posted by Derek McLean  August 12, 2011 10:13 AM

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A hearing has been scheduled Monday on Jonathan Yeo's eligibility to run for School Committee from Ward 2, after two people filed complaints challenging his residency.

Yeo is currently serving as a member of the school board from Ward 4, a position he has held for over five years. But he is running for his fourth and final term from Ward 2, where he bought a home in December.

The hearing on Yeo’s candidacy will be held on Monday, Aug. 15, at 2 p.m. in Room 222 at City Hall, in front of the Election Commission and Angela Smagula, city solicitor designee.

Representatives of the parties involved in the objections met Thursday afternoon with the Board of Election Commissioners, where they set the hearing date. Yeo was not present, but he was represented by Claire Sokoloff, chairman of the School Committee, and Susan Heyman, a former board member.

Yeo is running for the Ward 2 School Committee spot against Margaret Albright. He said he moved from Auburndale in Ward 4, where he lived for 15 years, to Newtonville in Ward 2, where he purchased a home in December. He said he moved so he could consolidate his family in a two-family home.

“I am looking forward to a campaign that is actually based on the issues. It is very sad,” Yeo said in an interview before the complaints were filed. “It has taken a lot of my summertime and I am trying to keep my focus on what is important,” referring to issues affecting the school system.

One of the complaints was filed by resident Peter Harrington, who has served as a member of the Board of Aldermen. His letter to Kenneth Hartford, chairman of the Newton Election Committee, had around three dozen signatures from Newton residents, including his own.

“There are rules that should be followed and if they are followed then they make for a good system,” said resident James Bueche, who signed Harrington’s objection. “The fact that [Yeo] wants to change the rules for himself, that opens it up for everybody.”

Another complaint was filed by Janet Sterman, a former inspector, clerk and warden for the Ballot Committee. The letter was also sent to Hartford.

The letter cited a conversation she had with Yeo at a meeting held at the Newton Senior Center on March 7. “As a result of this conversation, it is my assessment that Yeo’s submitted nomination papers are not valid as he had not established legal residence in Ward 2 on or before the required date by the Newton City Charter.”

Sterman said in the letter that the nominations papers for Newton municipal offices became available on March 7. The Election Commission confirmed the date.

Both Harrington and Sterman were present at Thursday’s meeting.

“My opponents have resorted to some desperate measures and mean-spirited tactics to try and knock me and I think it is wrong,'' Yeo said. It's not going to work and it is frankly crazy to suggest that I would run reelection over in Ward 4, since I don’t live there now and I won’t live there during my whole fourth term.”

None of the objections were submitted by Albright, or included her signature. In an earlier interview, she said she would not pursue an objection against Yeo.

“I haven’t been involved in it at all. I’ve just been focusing on my campaign,” said Albright. “There are people looking into it, some of them are on my side and some of them aren’t. But I really don’t know what's going on.”

“Its not my issue,” Albright said. “My issue is what is going on in my schools and that is where I am trying to focus.”

Yeo said that he checked with the Election Commission in October, to ensure he would be eligible for election after he accepted an offer for his Ward 4 home. Yeo said he sold the home in January.

Craig A.J, Manseau, Executive Secretary of the Election Commission, confirmed the Commission spoke to Yeo and informed him that he would need to change his address to be eligible to run in Ward 2.

Yeo said he worked out a deal with the buyers that he would transition over a period of months heading into June. “We were doing renovations and my son was finishing high school and the buyers were fine with that,” said Yeo. “I started paying Newton’s property tax in Ward 2 on December 9th and I sold my house on January 30th.”

Yeo said he began the move into the Ward 2 home after he purchased it, receiving mail, shoveling the walk and doing renovations.

Derek McLean can be reached at dbmclean1@gmail.com.

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