By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — Just under 30 percent of the town’s 5,511 voters made their way to the polls Tuesday, choosing Eliza Lucas to succeed Frances Fleming on the town’s Board of Selectmen, and giving their emphatic and final stamp of approval to the sale of beer and wine at a hoped-for new local grocery store.
Lucas, who co-owns the Bearskin Neck shop Top Dog and works as a freelance media producer, won a battle of first-time candidates’ in the selectmen’s race with 1,028 votes to 563 for her opponent, Don Campbell Jr.
“The entire process was a very positive experience for me,” Lucas said in a Thursday email to the Times. “Being that this was my first time, I’m very happy with the results of the campaign, but I also feel like I learned a lot, which is also rewarding.”
Lucas said she only found out she had won after a constituent called her around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, congratulating her. It took roughly two hours for town officials to finish counting the ballots after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Lucas said she is eager to work with current selectmen in addition to offering the perspective of a local business owner.
“My five-year-old asked me if I was going to get a trophy for winning and looked a bit disappointed when I told her ‘no, I am getting a job,’” she wrote.
Despite Campbell’s loss, he made it clear that he and Lucas both worked tirelessly during the campaign.
“I wish her the very best, and I want her to know that she and the rest of the Board of Selectmen have my full support going forward.”
Campbell said he would entertain the idea of serving on other boards or committees in the future, but aspires to run for Board of Selectmen again as well.
“My motto is go big or go home,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than 85 percent of voters — or 1,406 — also approved alcohol sales at a grocery store. The question only had 182 voters opposing it, while there were also 44 blank ballots on the issue as well.
Jay Smith, owner of the Whistlestop Mall, which housed the former IGA grocery store until it closed two years ago, previously said allowing alcohol sales would increase interest in a grocery store coming to Rockport. He added some companies are already interested in the site.
In a run for the Planning Board, voters also backed Herman Lilja, who pulled papers to have his name on the ballot for the Planning Board seat and garnered 1,202 votes. But they also backed Edward Hand in a race among write-in candidates for a second Planning Board seats with 228 votes. Hand served on the Planning Board in Wellsley for several years.
Hand said that Cameron Smith, who also serves on the Planning Board, eventually convinced him run as a write in candidate.
“We’re very happy in Rockport, and we want to give back,” he said.
Lilja, another political newcomer, said he wants to make sure new developments have proper oversight, but added he would not want to push new developers away from Rockport.
Rev. Matthew Wigton of the First Baptist Church in Rockport beat fellow write-in candidate Michael Josephson for an open seat on the Rockport Housing Authority.
The other uncontested races on the ballot included a seat for the School Committee, Town Clerk, Assessor and for a trustees’ post with the Rockport Public Library.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.