I’ve made my decision about running for Selectman


a run for selectman

My Candidacy Announcement


The Chronicle has posted the required notice, so it’s official.

Two of the five positions on our Board of Selectmen, or BOS, will be up for grabs this spring.

Here in Ipswich, we’ve had selectmen as long as we’ve had clams for dinner. It’s a daunting job. Maybe in the old days it was simple: you attend a meeting once a month, you run through a list of citizens’ requests, and vote yea or nay, and you get on your horse and trot on home. Maybe you stop off at the tavern at County and Poplar, and throw back a couple tankards of grog.

But now it’s not simple. Anything but. The moment you become a selectman, you’re on the hook to also be a commissioner on some number of Ipswich’s innumerable committees. It’s like whiplash: One day you’re campaigning on Market Street, working the rope line and kissing babies; the next day you’re in Shellfish Sub-Committee shellshock.

A selectman makes something like $14 a year, maybe a bit more; but in any case it’s hardly enough to compensate for having to attend an average of 25 hours’ worth of meetings per day. I can’t stand meetings. It’s all I can do to sit still for church on Sunday morning. Church is really hard. Church is like a business meeting where the Boss is invisible.

However, having studied carefully the requirements for, and responsibilities of, anyone serving as an Ipswich selectman, I have determined today to announce my decision about entering the race.

Let me explain my thinking.

Incumbent selectman Charlie Surpitski, a former Ipswich police chief, has served honorably. But will he run again? And if he runs, will he win? Here’s what I know. On some of those very few occasions when I have found myself in the fitness room at the Y, Charlie has been there too. And what I observe is, this man is not going to be pushed around. I think it’s going to take someone who can bench press 180 or more to beat this Superman.

As for Pat McNally: He’s by far the longest-serving member of the BOS today. If he runs and wins this time, he will cross the quarter-century mark for continuous service. This will put him in exclusive company, with people like FDR and Dick Clark, even Bob Barker. Anyway, Pat McNally has also served faithfully, and if you look around Ipswich today, you can see loads of stuff he has helped to accomplish. Like our officially designated Open Spaces, for example. I understand that Pat has a fleet of drones based on the deck of his Great Neck property which patrol the marshes and zap potential developers.

So here is where I stand, on the upcoming selectmen’s race. I have carefully considered the course of action which will most greatly benefit the town we love. I hope that my faithful supporters, all across this great town, will stand by me in this momentous moment of momentousness.

After much consideration, and about 500 words — which is all my editor can stand to print — I have made my decision:

I will not run for the Board of Selectmen.

If drafted, I will not accept.

If nominated, I will not campaign.

If elected, I will not serve.

If sworn in, I will pretend not to understand what’s happening to me.

If installed in a selectman’s chair in the BOS room at Town Hall, I will play games on my iPhone and refuse to cast tie-breaking votes.

If recalled by outraged voters, I will vote against myself.

If tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail, I will move to Rowley and write newspaper columns making fun of Ipswich.

So let’s not go there. On May 20th, please vote. Just not for me.


Doug Brendel indulges what Town Manager Robin Crosbie calls his “morbid fixation on Town politics” from his home on outer Linebrook. Follow this blog at Outsidah.com.


5 thoughts on “I’ve made my decision about running for Selectman

  1. Doug, you are doing far more good writing these wonderful blog posts than you could ever do as Selectman. Someone has to be out there telling the truth in a way that we can all swallow (and laugh at!) If you are nominated, I won’t vote for you.

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