My name is Mark Coulter. I am a candidate for the Ayer Board Of Selectmen. My wife, Catherine, owns and operates a business in town. We have four children, two who attend Ayer schools.

Although I have never held public office I feel that my background as a public servant is of benefit to me as well as our citizens.

For 26 years I was in public service via emergency medical services and law enforcement. For 16 years I served the residents of Ayer as a member of the Police Department as a patrolman, detective and sergeant. I retired from the Police Department in April 2004. I was the founder and lead advisor for the youth police explorer program for 12 years and currently serve as director of the Mass Youth Police Academy.

If elected, my goal is to bring fairness, integrity and an atmosphere of citizen trust to the board, and to wholeheartedly support and provide open government. When you are a selectperson you are just that, a person selected by the voters to represent them, listen to all facts presented and make a decision that is in the best interest of the town, not a decision based on personal interest.

Citizens put you in office, therefore they have the right to present questions and receive honest answers. They have the right to know what’s going on and to provide input.

Devens made promises in 1998 that have been long forgotten by MassDevelopment. Now it appears a report will be generated sometime in April to update the community about the Devens progress and current plans. Too late. It certainly would have been more prudent to have sent out such a report annually since 1998. The result to date would have been much less confusion and more understanding.

I believe we should take back all of our land, not just portions selected by MassDevelopment. We, as residents of Ayer, should be making the decisions on our future, not politicians in Boston who will point to Devens as their political accomplishment.

I believe we have one of the best, if not the best, school system around. It is a system that takes up a large budget as all school systems do. With new housing comes new families with school-age children who deserve the best education. We need to support the schools and look at the expenditures to be assured that our money is being spent well and in the interest of education.

Police and fire services need absolute support in order to provide officers and firefighters, EMTs and paramedics with the best equipment. Again, look at expenditures to be assured that money is being well spent.

The bottom line of any town department budget should be the same as a personal home budget: You don’t spend what you don’t have.

We need to take care of our senior citizens as well. We also need to encourage younger people to provide input on what they feel the town can do for them by way of programs and activities.

Communication, regardless of the topic, is certainly the foundation of understanding. The Board of Selectmen needs to improve its communications with Ayer’s citizens and all other town boards.

In closing, I will make one promise: I will be fair, open-minded and will listen to anyone who wants to speak. I am approachable and will listen to all facts and all sides of an issue before I make a decision. I will always support open government.

I would appreciate your vote on April 24. I believe I can make a difference. I stand for honesty, integrity and trust.