By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — Stephen Kelly said he’s always had an interest in politics, prompting him to run against Selectmen’s Chairman Patrick Hargreaves.
But he had some second thoughts after attending the town’s recent deliberative session and changed his mind.
Unfortunately for Kelly, it was a little too late.
The 57-year-old Woodbury Street resident notified Town Clerk Susan Wall last week he was no longer interested in the position and wanted to withdraw from the race.
“It was just a personal decision,” Kelly said. “It just didn’t feel right to me,”
But Wall said Kelly had to have contacted her by the filing deadline Feb. 1. He didn’t, so his name remains on the ballot that goes before voters March 12.
State law says candidates can only withdraw from a race if they submit a letter from a doctor saying an injury or illness prevents them from serving, Wall said.
She said Kelly is the first candidate to ask to withdraw from a race in her five years as Salem’s town clerk.
If Kelly happens to defeat Hargreaves, he said, he would resign the three-year position.
Wall said it would then be up to selectmen to appoint a replacement for the next year.
A new selectman would be elected in March 2014 to serve the remaining two years of the term, she said.
Kelly, a truck driver, said he’s always been interested in politics at the national level and thought he would be able to serve his community as a selectmen.
He said he’s never been to a selectmen’s meeting, only a few deliberative sessions.
After signing up to run shortly before the deadline, Kelly said attending the town’s three-hour deliberative session Feb. 2 made him realize the job just wasn’t for him.
“It was a lot of budget-type stuff that I didn’t feel was my strong suit,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was so involved and so much minutiae.”
Kelly, who calls himself a fiscal conservative, said there were no particular issues that prompted him to run or change his mind about running.
He has lived in Salem for six years since moving here from Somerville, Mass.
He said he received a lot of support from other residents once they learned he was interested in running.
Hargreaves, a longtime selectman, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
He is the only selectman up for re-election this year.
There are contested races for Budget Committee, Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment.