CHESTERTOWN — He is hale and hearty, able to do 100 sit-ups and 50 push-ups a day at the age of 82, but hearing loss has become an obstacle, Fourth Ward Councilman Marty Stetson said Aug. 5 when announcing that he would not seek a fourth term.
“Listening is a very, very important part of this job, and I’m not sure that I can still do it and do it in the kind of way that I think it needs to be done in order to do the job,” Stetson said during the end of the council meeting that is devoted to ward reports.
Reading from a prepared statement, Stetson, who has been wearing hearing aids for more than 20 years, said his hearing loss has become more pronounced as of late.
“I don’t hear everything that is going on in these meetings,” he acknowledged.
So, “I’m not going to file for a fourth term,” he said matter-of-factly.
Stetson still has about four months remaining on his four-year term and pledged to be diligent “right up until my successor is sworn in.”
“I know there are some good people out there who will do a good job and represent the Fourth Ward as I’ve tried to do, and the people of Chestertown,” he said.
Stetson made one request — that he be allowed to continue to play on the town’s bocce team.
He dismissed any notion that his decision was based on a concern that he would not be re-elected.
“I’ve never had anyone get more than half the votes I’ve gotten,” he said.
That certainly was the case in 2007, when first-time candidate Stetson easily topped a four-man field, and in 2011, when he was re-elected by a landslide.
He won 61-33 in a two-man race in 2015 when a total of 106 votes were cast in the election for the second and fourth wards.
So it was with confidence that Stetson said on Aug. 5 that “the support is there” if he had sought another term.
“In the last six months, I’ve had more people come up to me and thank me for my service to the town. Some of them say that they don’t always agree with me but they appreciate my sincerity and so forth,” he said.
By his count, Stetson has more than 60 years of public service, which includes 12 years as a councilman. He had four years of active duty in the military, a career in law enforcement with the Maryland State Police and as chief of the Chestertown Police Department, and was the alcoholic beverage and tobacco inspector for Kent County.
Stetson’s tenure as a public servant was applauded by members of the audience and his colleagues.
“I appreciate your service and the wisdom you have given me as a new council member on being patient and being thoughtful about the decisions we have been charged with making,” said Ellsworth Tolliver, who took office in 2018.
“I’ve learned quite a bit from you,” Tolliver told Stetson.
First Ward Councilman David Foster, who came on board the same time as Tolliver, also thanked Stetson for his years of service.
“Marty and I usually agree, but even on those occasions when we don’t, one of the first things he’ll say as we walk out of here is, ‘Would you like a ride. There’s a Council of Governments meeting coming up, would you like to ride with me.’ Marty doesn’t hold a grudge, at least not with me, and I have appreciated that,” Foster said.
Election day is Nov. 5 for seats currently held by Stetson and Second Ward Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, who hasn’t said whether she will seek a third term.
Town Clerk Jen Mulligan said she is drafting the election notice, and expects to have that completed by the end of the month. Applications for candidacy will not be accepted until then.
The annual stipend for council members is $3,000.