You certainly don’t arrive new to Ipswich and plunge right into local politics. This would be inappropriate. Or even crazy.
It’s enough to figure out where to vote, and then how to get there — they seem to have hidden the YMCA — and a newcomer doesn’t know to get up early for the Election Day traffic jam. The day Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley, I had to roll down my window and negotiate with a passing jogger to bring me a sandwich from Five Corners Deli.
But you certainly don’t want to wade into a selectmen’s election with an actual opinion. Not when you’ve lived in Ipswich less than two years.
(I remember shortly after my arrival in Ipswich, the earth began sprouting the seasonal vegetation first planted by democracy-loving citizens of New England long ago: lawn signs. It was clear to me, before very long at all, that this was serious business. One of my neighbors found that someone had planted a sign in his front yard, but for a candidate he wasn’t supporting. He promptly uprooted it — and then, like the fair and balanced free-speecher he is, planted it in the yard next door.)
So please don’t misconstrue this column as anything like an opinion about the current selectmen’s race.
Still, as one who dearly loves Ipswich, I do feel it’s my duty to issue a warning. With the upcoming selectmen’s election, we need to understand the stakes for our beloved town.
Just look at the facts.
Five people sit on the board of selectmen. Two positions are up for grabs. Both incumbents are running for re-election. Surpitski is a former cop. McNally is an attorney. (Maybe this works. The town can get arrested, charged, defended, and acquitted without ever leaving the boardroom.)
The third candidate, Wiedenmann, owns a bed and breakfast here in town. This wouldn’t be remarkable, under normal circumstances — but who else is already on the board? Who are the three selectmen still in the process of serving out their terms? One, Craft, is a consultant. Another, Morley, is … brace yourself … another bed and breakfast owner.
And then there’s one more: Berry. Scrupulous background research reveals what she has been for most of her working life. A waitress. She has worked in many, if not most, of the restaurants of Ipswich. Serving what? Thousands and thousands of breakfasts.
Yes, I know: it’s worrisome, isn’t it.
We could wake up the morning after the election and have two bed and breakfast owners, and a breakfast server, on our board of selectmen. A veritable breakfast cabal.
The implications of a pro-breakfast majority running our town are chilling. I see Town Meetings starting at 6 a.m., the high school lobby lined by long tables loaded with crispy bacon, succulent sausage, cubes of cantaloupe, an omelet station. I see Chowderfest drifting into obscurity as Ipswich comes to be known as the Birthplace of the American Breakfast. I see the mural in the post office coming down, a kitchen scene from Leave It to Beaver going up in its place.
It’s up to you, Ipswich. You can keep the cop and the attorney — or you can give up one of them, and suffer the consequences: giant stacks of fresh hot pancakes made with 93 score butter, pure 36% whipping cream, fresh grade AA eggs, hard wheat unbleached flour, and original 1779 sourdough starter….