2 vying for open seat on Wenham Select Board | Elections
WENHAM — Two candidates are before voters to consider for an open seat on Wenham’s Select Board at this year’s Town Election.
Voters will hit the polls in Wenham on Thursday, April 7, to elect a new member for the three-member board: Peter Clay, an Arbor Street resident, or Dierdre Pierotti, of Maple Street.
The winner will replace Catherine Harrison, who served the final year of Jack Wilhelm’s three-year term, in 2021, when he and board member John Clemenzi abruptly resigned amid allegations that Clemenzi engaged in a pattern of inappropriate conduct toward women. Dianne Bucco was elected to the board last spring and Gary Cheeseman’s term expires next year.
Pierotti enters the race after working on the Town Government Study Committee that advanced a bid at Town Meeting this past Saturday to increase the Select Board from three to five members, which passed overwhelmingly. The issue is expected to return for a ballot vote next spring and possible special elections to elect two more members that summer.
“As part of that, I did a lot of research and reading on the structure of town government and, specifically, looking at the question of whether Wenham should expand the Select Board,” Pierotti said. “Through that process, I really got into municipal government. I started to really enjoy it and liked what I was learning, so I decided little by little that I think I could do this.”
Clay, meanwhile, enters the race with concerns over property taxes and other fees. He is also a Planning Board member.
“I was on the Hamilton-Wenham Baseball Boosters and was president of that, and one of the things we did was raise money so that we could pay for hardship cases and user fees. We have ridiculous user fees,” Clay said. “(Wenham) taxes are the highest in the state. User fees are outrageous, and it’s really hard. If you don’t have a lot of money, and you have a good three-sport athlete, you’re paying a lot of money.”
But Clay’s focus isn’t on sports. Rather, it’s on boosting revenue from businesses so that residents pay less for services.
“By electing me, Wenham will get a Select Board member who will aggressively pursue commercial development,” Clay said. “If we could create, maybe, New England Biolabs, it would fundamentally change things for good in Hamilton and Wenham. That literally transformed Ipswich.”
Pierotti, meanwhile, wants to see more engagement from residents.
“We need people to engage in the process, to determine what our vision is for the town,” she said. “That’s where we need to put our energy. That’s where we need to put our focus — so people can afford to stay here, our seniors can afford to age in place, and our families can afford to stay and keep their children in the school district.”