By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — Rockport voters will be faced with two key choices on their town ballots Tuesday — deciding which of two candidates will win a seat on the town’s Board of Selectmen, and whether, once and for all, a town grocery store should be able to sell beer and wine, if and when such a store opens in the months to come.
The only contested candidate race on the ballot is the selectmen’s race, where the lone seat up for election this year opened when selectwoman Frances Fleming said she would not be seeking re-election after accepting a new position with a religious institution.
The candidates are Don Campbell Jr., the internet sales director of the Pride Motor Group in Lynn, and Eliza Lucas co-owns the Bearskin Neck restaurant Top Dog with her husband Scott, in addition to be being a freelance media producer, primarily for the Bose Corporation.
Campbell’s wife is also a member of the Rockport Parent Teacher Organization, he had previously served as a reserve officer with the Rockport police department.
Both cited their professional lives as giving them a good background to step into town government.
Lucas said that, by working in a creative, collaborative environment, she is able to work well with others to answer tough questions.
“I’ve been a business owner in Rockport for 12 years,” she said. “I am available all the time.”
Campbell said some of his skills from his professional live include sound negotiation and identifying needs versus wants.
Campbell said he would not accept the health care offered with the seat, saving the town money; a question about which officials took the health plan came up during the previous town meeting.
Lucas said Thursday she was unsure if she would accept the plan offered by the town, but added her family does have a health insurance plan from a part-time employer.
She added that one of her other goals would be to improve the town’s infrastructure, in addition to pursuing state and federal funding.
Lucas said she also favors a possible increase in parking meters. She added that, by providing better signage directing drivers to parking areas around town, residents will not have to feed the meters as much.
Campbell said Thursday the issue needs to be examined more closely — that the meter issue is not one of simply increasing rates or changing times.
“There is a lack of a clear plan,” he said.
Campbell added he gained a lot of information by hearing from residents and officials at a recent Board of Selectmen public hearing, parking meters being the topic of discussion.
He said the parking discussion has many sides, but he hopes any plan put forward would not be set in stone.
“I just want to make sure we look at it in a comprehensive way,” he said.
Both said they would work with local businesses to stay open later outside the tourism season, which could provide a permanent economic boost to the town in the long run. Campbell and Lucas also agreed that the special act to allow alcohol sales at grocery stores, if accepted, could draw a market into town.
Jay Smith, owner of the Whistlestop Mall site, agreed.
The building housed the former IGA market which closed its doors more than two years ago, the town has been without a grocery store since.
“I think people want a local market,” Smith said Thursday.
Smith said he has been talking to interested parties and allowing alcohol sales would attract more stores looking to move into the site.
The ballot question states that only a grocery store — not a convenience or specialty store — could be issued a license.
The ballot question lists several items that must be sold in order for something to be considered a grocery store and Board of Selectmen would determine what constitutes a grocery store.
Town Clerk Patricia Brown said considering the contested race and the ballot question, she expects a higher turnout at the polls compared to previous years.
There is also an active write-in campaign for a seat on the Rockport Housing Authority, with Rev. Matthew Wigton and Michael Josephson campaigning for the open seat. There is also one slot for a write it candidate on the Planning Board.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The polling places are Pigeon Cove Circle for Precinct 1, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church for Precinct 2 and Rockport Elementary School for Precinct 3.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.