, Gloucester, MA

January 15, 2013

Fleming won't seek Rockport re-election

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — With eight seats of town officials up for grabs in May, there may be some new names on the ballot and fresh faces during town meetings.

One seat is definitely set to remain open. Selectman Frances Fleming announced Monday she will not be seeking re-election for a three year term.

Fleming, who won election in 2010 as one of five write-in candidates after no one returned papers to seek a place on the ballot, said she has taken a new position that would make it extremely difficult to continue on the town’s board.

”I ran for this position because I was encouraged, persuaded, and supported by so many to do so, at a time when no one was willing to run,” she wrote in an email to the Times.

Fleming said she will be starting a new, four year position in January of 2014, the reason she is not seeking reelection.

“I have been asked to fill a role in a national spiritual organization that is very dear to my heart that will draw on my skills and my passion,” she wrote. “Therefore I am not in a position to stand for re-election.

“Although I had not thought of myself in the role of Selectmen before that time, I have worked hard to live up to the expectations of the voters,” she wrote. During a phone interview, she said she would miss the interactions with other residents and relationships with other department leaders and town employees.

She also commended Erin Battistelli, who currently chairs the Board of Selectmen, for her willingness to take on that role when Fleming was diagnosed with Lyme disease last year.

Town Clerk Patricia Brown said Monday that the only person who has requested election candidate paperwork is the current town assessor, Paul Fuhs, who is seeking the same post.

Other positions up for election include one five-year seat on the Housing Authority, one three-year term on the School Committee, one three-year term as a Library Trustee, two three-year terms on the Planning Board and Brown’s town clerk’s post, which also carries a three-year term.

Brown said she intends to secure the seat as clerk again this year.

“Oh, I’m definitely taking out papers,” she said.

Susan Brisson’s first year as a School Committee member filling a prior term is also coming to a close. She said Monday she is undecided about running again.

“I’m enjoying it so far,” she said.

The Annual Town Election is slated for Tuesday, May 7, a month after the Town Meeting, which is set for Saturday, April 6.

Battistelli noted that last year, the dates coincided with both Passover and Easter and led town officials to move the Town Meeting date to the following Monday.

Battistelli said there may be a warrant article set for the Spring Town Meeting to change the town bylaw, allowing the date of the Annual Town Meeting to be changed. This year, however, officials have lucked out; Easter falls on March 31 and the first day of Passover is March 25.

The last day to submit nomination papers to the Board of Registrars is set on March 19, the last day to file with the Town Clerk is April 2 and residents must withdraw papers by March 4.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at