ROCKPORT — With a write-in entry beginning an intense campaign, the Rockport selectman's race is heating up.
Until April 21, the only candidates running for the two selectmen's seats on the ballot were the incumbents — Chairwoman Sarah Wilkinson and Sandy Jacques.
That day, however, local lawyer Wilhelmina Sheedy announced through a letter to the Times that she would seek election to the position, making the race a contested one. She is running under the named Wilhelmina Sheedy-Moores, because, while she uses the last name Sheedy for her business and is best known by that name, her legal last name is Moores.
Sheedy-Moores's letter indicated that offensive comments made by Jacques had spurred her to enter the race.
"I've been interested in running for a while, but the comments were sort of a catalyst for me," she said.
She said she had been waiting for a seat to open up rather than challenging a sitting selectman, but said she changed her mind after Jacques told Wilkinson to "go back to the kitchen" during an argument before Town Meeting.
"A lot of people are perhaps looking for a change," Sheedy-Moores said Monday.
Sheedy-Moores has organized an impressive campaign in the weeks since her announcement, including ordering lawn signs and seeking volunteers to hand out stickers with her name and address on them to be used on the ballots.
She also sent out an email to those she described as "everyone I know in Rockport" to ask for their support.
"I care deeply for our community and have been willing to contribute my time and expertise wherever they are needed," she wrote in the email.
Sheedy-Moores, who was on the Caribbean island of St. Martin until Thursday, said the efforts were made by her supporters, naming Laurene Wessel as a particular help. Wessel could not be reached for comment.
Some 200 blue and white signs were ordered — though the total cost is unknown, she said — and have begun popping up all over Rockport. They are now competing for space with the green signs Jacques has put up, but Wilkinson has yet to put her signs out.
To run as a write-in candidate, a person only needs to have people write in his or her name on the ballot and check the box indicating that the vote is for a write in. Some variation in the spelling of a name is allowed, but it needs to be clear who the voter intends to vote for, otherwise the vote is invalid.
Town Clerk Patricia Brown, herself locked in a contested election with John Arnold, said a write-in candidate doesn't even need to tell the clerk's office that he or she intends to run, though it does make the counting of the votes easier to know what name to look for.
"You have a choice. You don't have to go with the status quo," said Sheedy-Moores, who is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Jacques said he is excited for the competition of the election and looks forward to discussing the issues facing Rockport, but said he would not describe himself as optimistic about the outcome.
"I'm never really optimistic about these things," said Jacques, who said he would not take anything for granted.
"Every single, solitary vote counts," said Sheedy-Moores.
Stephanie Bergman can be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or email@example.com