May 7, 2017
The Town House at 1 Market Square, Marblehead, Precinct 1’s polling location.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
MARBLEHEAD — The Board of Selectmen race highlights the Town Election on Tuesday, with six candidates vying for five seats.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling locations are at The Town House, 1 Market Square, for Precinct 1; The Masonic Temple, 62 Pleasant St., for Precincts 2 and 3; and The Marblehead Community Center, 10 Humphrey St., for Precincts 4, 5 and 6.
A term on the five-member board of selectmen is only for one year, so incumbents have to run annually. Four incumbents — Jackie Belf-Becker, who serves as chairwoman, Harry Christensen Jr., Judith Jacobi and James Nye — are running for re-election. Bret Murray decided not to run for another term. John Liming and Mark C. Moses Grader, chairman of the Finance Committee, are the two challengers looking to get on the board.
Belf-Becker, an attorney, has lived in Marblehead for 41 years. She and her husband have been married for almost 43 years, and have two children who have gone through the Marblehead Public Schools. She is running for her 13th term on the Board of Selectmen and has been chairwoman for nine years, not all consecutively. Previously, she served six years on the School Committee, including three as chairwoman.
She said previously an experienced board is best able to handle collective bargaining agreements, which all have to be renegotiated in early 2018.
Jacobi, who has served on the board since 2000, said previously that it was important to live within a budget so the town doesn’t have to ask for a Proposition 2½ override. She said her years as a classroom teacher are important, along with a calm temperament that allows her to evaluate situations and listen to concerns.
Christensen has served on the board for about 20 years since the 1990s on three different stints. He has been practicing law in Marblehead for more than 30 years. He is married with two children, and has three grandchildren. He has lived in Marblehead all of his life, with the exception of a year he spent in the United States Marine Corps.
Nye, a Marblehead native, is the president and CEO of National Grand Bank in Marblehead. He was first elected to the board in 2005. His three daughters were raised in the town.
The four incumbents talked about being fiscally responsible, while delivering the services residents have come to expect.
Grader has been a member of the finance committee for nine years, and chairman for the past five. He is the co-founder and managing partner of Little Harbor Advisors, an investment management firm based in Marblehead. He is married with two sons, who were educated through Marblehead schools.
Grader said previously the financial health of the town is the No. 1 issue, as the quality of services residents have come to expect cannot be maintained without strong and well-managed financial resources.
Liming, a former selectman, said previously that he would focus on fixing sidewalks so children can walk to school safely. He also stated that he would work on giving more transparency, offering selectmen hours at town hall. If elected, he said it was his hope that he could open the gateway for other residents who may want to run for public office.
The only other contested race is for the Cemetery Commission. Rose Ann Wheeler McCarthy and Rufus Titus are each vying to fill an open seat for a three-year term.
Other uncontested races are for Moderator, Assessors, Board of Health, Abbot Public Library Trustees, Municipal Light Commission, Planning Board, Recreation and Parks Commission, School Committee, and the Water and Sewer Commission.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.