Debra Panetta announces for Selectman

Debra Panettahas formally announced her candidacy for the Saugus Board of Selectmen. Debra is offering focused as well as professional leadership experience for the voters to consider. Known for her ability to work with others, regardless of background and ideology, Panetta hopes to be part of a newly elected Board of Selectmen that will move Saugus forward.

Panetta is a twenty-two year Saugus resident residing at 1 Bellevue Street along with her husband Mark and two children, Mark Jr. and Sabrina. One of the values that her family strongly believes in is participating in the community. Whether it is youth sports, Boy Scouts, civic or social volunteer activities, community participation is modeled and practiced. “Stronger communities rely on citizen participation,” states Panetta. Her experience is evidence of that.

For five terms including this current term, she has served the people of Precinct Five in Town Meeting. As a Town Meeting Member, she has been responsive to citizen requests and has worked with constituents on issues related to the Precinct. She has also opposed water rate increases, a trash fee, and any expansion of RESCO. She has supported the school budget as well as the re-certification of the library.

She was elected town-wide to the Saugus School Committee where she served as Chairman from 2005-2007. While on the School Committee, she convened The Joint Committee on New Schools (which included all 5 Selectmen and School Committee members) to evaluate the school buildings, including the Belmonte Middle School, secured funding for the modular classrooms at the Lynnhurst and Veterans Schools that reduced class size, and helped formalize recycling within the schools. She also oversaw the budget development process and presented it to the Finance Committee and Town Meeting. It was also her responsibility to guide the evaluation process for the Superintendent, something she would like to see established in the next contract for a Town Manager.

From 2007 – 2009, she was elected town-wide as one of the nine members of the Charter Commission where she served as Vice-Chairman. The recent amendments adopted as a result of the work of the Charter Commission include language she helped propose, such as establishing a capital improvement plan, leasing of town property, and formally stating that the Selectmen set policy for Saugus.

Her volunteerism to appointed and non-profit offices includes her current service as a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of SCTV where she successfully led that organization through its first financial audit as required. She currently serves as the co-President of the Saugus River Watershed Council and has received their River Stewardship award for environmental excellence. She is also the President of the Rumney Marsh Toastmasters club, where she mentors members on communication skill development. She has been honored by receipt of the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, an award given to those members who have shown exemplary communication skills.  She has also received the Division Governor of the Year award for her strong leadership, communication, and collaboration skills.  She served on the Shore Educational Collaborative’s Board of Directors.  She also served as a member of the Saugus Tree Committee for 12 years and has been past President of the Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE).  Panetta continues to be an active member of the Saugus Historical Society as well as the Friends of Breakheart.

Panetta’s career experience consists of over 25 years of holding progressively responsible positions in the field of finance, including accounting, auditing, actuarial and budget development. She currently works as the Budget Manager at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a world renowned non-profit agency known for their work on diabetes care and research. There, her responsibilities include developing an $85 million dollar financial and strategic budget for the Center. As part of her duties, she frequently meets with the department heads and cost center managers to determine opportunities and risks to each plan. All the budgets she works on are presented to the Center’s Executive Committee. Each month she monitors the financial state of the Center and compares it to what has been forecasted and budgeted. “I believe my experience in budget and finance will be beneficial to the next Board of Selectmen,” stated Panetta.

When asked why she decided to run for a seat on the Board of Selectman, Panetta explained that she feels her skill-set will serve Saugus as dollars become more precious. “I feel that I can enhance the financial accountability so that citizens and taxpayers can have confidence in what they are told. I also believe overall communication among Saugus officials and with the community can be improved. I believe my experience working with both school and town budgets as well as the budget process, is a positive experience for voters to consider.”

Panetta concluded by stating, “My approach to those I serve with and serve for is to include, to involve, and to ensure that all voices are heard and respected.  The next Board of Selectmen will need to work together. The issues facing Saugus require openness and collaboration within an atmosphere of trust. My record and experience reflects those beliefs.”

Panetta asks that on Tuesday, November 8, that voters strongly consider her for one of their five votes. Questions or offers for help can be directed to her at 781-233-9720 or

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