Wenham Selectman John Clemenzi announced Tuesday night he will not seek reelection to a third term and is suspending his campaign.
Clemenzi had been running a campaign for the one open seat on the three-member board. The deadline has passed, so his name will remain on the ballot.
The contest for selectman had been the only contested race on the Wenham Annual Town Election ballot for voting on Saturday morning, May 5. First time candidate Ken Whittaker is now uncontested and Clemenzi said on Tuesday that he’s backing Whittaker, an attorney who is a member of the Conservation Commission, Affordable Housing Trust and Hamilton-Wenham Open Land Trust.
Clemenzi made his announcement in a nine-minute speech at the end of the at .
“This, as you can imagine, was a difficult and somewhat painful decision to come to grips with,” Clemenzi said.
He said he reached the decision after asking himself whether there was a “truly solid reason to continue.”
Clemenzi said he will now have more time to devote to family, personal and business responsibilities. He owns Ultrafine Paper and Clemenzi Industrial Park in Beverly.
Clemenzi, a Wenham resident since 1977, said in a previous interview with Patch that “I truly love the town and the people in it.”
He serves on the Town Hall and Police Station Building Committee and served four years on the Hamilton-Wenham Budget Process Committee. He was also on the parents advisory group at and , and served a chairman of the middle school architectural subcommittee during the construction of the new middle school on the high school property. He is still an Eagle Scout advisor to Boy Scout Troop 28 and has help lead more than two dozen Boy Scouts to the rank of Eagle Scout.
Before specifically saying he was withdrawing from the race, Clemenzi recounted what he said were the many successes of his tenure, including renovation of the Town Hall and construction of a new police station on time and under budget; moving town employees to the Group Insurance Commission that saves the town $80-100,000 per year; renegotiating the ambulance contact saving the town $50,00 per year and the move – still in the process – at a savings of $80-100,000 for the town.
He also lauded town employees for being “patient and supportive” when $435,000 was cut from the town budget three years ago. In all, Clemenzi said he has been part of town leadership that has kept the town government on a “solid and accountable financial track.”
“I don’t believe there are any regrets from my point of view on the work that has been done,” Clemenzi said.
Clemenzi was first elected in 2006 and reelected in 2009 – what he called two “successful campaigns” against three “well-positioned candidates.”
“I strongly believe the current campaign would end up with a similar result to the previous ones, but that’s my opinion,” Clemenzi said.
Clemenzi said he was now endorsing his former opponent, Whittaker, who was in the audience as Clemenzi made his announcement. Clemenzi vowed to stay actively involved in the town and said he has “new plans and innovations” he plans to soon bring forward to town officials.
He also said the town is in capable hands with Selectmen Patrick Wilson and and .
“I am very convinced this man is of the caliber we are looking for,” Clemenzi said about Andrews in a previous interview with Patch.
In his speech on Tuesday, he “strongly recommended” town officials and Town Meeting voters to approve the changes needed to move forward with the redevelopment of the former Mullen Advertising property into a senior retirement community. He said he supports it “with great fervor.”
Previously, Clemenzi said the Mullen property is “enormously important” and its redevelopment is more important to Wenham that the redevelopment of the United Shoe Co. into the Cummings Center was for Beverly, the city where he grew up.