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Marblehead voters make their selection

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Paul Jalbert posts election results.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — The Town Election brought a new member to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, but also featured a low voter turnout.

Mark C. Moses Grader, chairman of the Finance Committee, was elected to a one-year term on the five-member board. He received the most votes of the Selectmen candidates with 1,899.

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.

“I’m very proud and honored to be elected, and it’s the culmination of a lot of teamwork and effort,” Grader said. “I’m just really pleased.”

The four incumbents — Jackie Belf-Becker, who serves as chairwoman, Harry Christensen Jr., Judith Jacobi, and James Nye — retained their seats. Nye received 1,807 votes, Jacobi had 1,783, Belf-Becker received 1,686, and Christensen had 1,535 ballots cast in his favor.

John Liming, a former selectman, was the other challenger, but did not gain a seat after receiving 819 votes.

Bret Murray was the other member of the Board of Selectmen up for re-election, but decided not to run for another term.

A term on the Board of Selectmen is only for one year, so incumbents have to run annually.

Voter turnout was 16 percent.

In switching boards, Grader said he was eager to go from an oversight role to a decision-making and executive role in Marblehead town government.

Grader said his No. 1 priority is to make sure Marblehead continues to be fiscally very sound. The financial health of the town is what makes every other initiative possible, he added.

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 Marblehead Public Schools. She has been on the Board of Selectmen since 2005, and has been chairwoman for nine years, not all consecutively. Previously, she served six years on the School Committee, including three as chairwoman.

“I’m thrilled,” Belf-Becker said. “I’m very grateful to the voters for letting me serve another term … I think that we work really well together as a board and Moses will be a fabulous addition. I think that together, we do a good job for the town and that’s what matters most to all of us.”

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Belf-Becker said she would be focused on collective bargaining agreements, which all have to be renegotiated in early 2018, making sure that all budgetary needs continue to be met, and seeing what projects are coming down the pipeline.

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.

Nye said it was a great honor to be re-elected. He said a fantastic team has been created, with the town administrator, finance director and the department heads.

“The town is really running efficiently,” he said. “I’m honored to keep it moving forward in a fiscally responsible manner. We welcome Moses to the team.”

Nye said the focus is always on the budget, and also said the priority would be on collective bargaining agreements.

Jacobi has served on the board since 2000. While running, she cited the importance of her years as a classroom teacher and a calm temperament that allows her to evaluate situations and listen to concerns.

“I’m very pleased,” Jacobi said. “It says a lot for the incumbents, and I think that altogether, we’re a good team.”

Going forward, Jacobi said her hope was to keep Marblehead the stable town that it is. Sometimes, she said, it’s more exciting to say people want change, but if the wheel is working, keep it rolling.

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 his life, with the exception a year he spent in the United States Marine Corps.

Christensen was not at Abbot (Town) Hall for results or to comment on his re-election.  

In the only other contested race, Rufus Titus defeated Rose Ann Wheeler McCarthy 1,514 to 803 for a three-year term on the Cemetery Commission.

Other uncontested races were 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 protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

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