Anyone who has followed Marblehead government at all since the late 1980s has heard the name Jackie Belf-Becker.
The current Select Board member served as chair of that board for more than a decade. Before that, she spent eight years on the School Committee — including three as chair. It’s that time period we turn our attention to this week, as we go back in time to April 1993 when Belf-Becker chaired the School Committee, according to the archives of the Daily Evening Item.
An April 2 Item story detailed Belf-Becker’s recusal from discussion on the $12.59 million fiscal year 1994 Marblehead Public Schools budget (a number that has risen to nearly $50 million for FY24), noting that she did so because of a potential conflict of interest. The conflict stemmed from the fact that Belf-Becker’s sister-in-law, Ellen Becker-Gray, worked as a part-time teacher in the all-day kindergarten program at the Eveleth School.
“I am taking the initiative to clear the air,” Belf-Becker is quoted as saying. “Until this issue is finally resolved, I will not participate in certain discussions and votes which have a financial impact.”
The potential conflict stemmed from the fact that the teachers’ union was at the time without a contract, giving every vote on the school budget a potential impact on teachers’ salaries, and thus Becker-Gray.
A week later, Belf-Becker said after consultation with town counsel she had been cleared to participate in “virtually all discussions and votes before the committee.”
The only conversations Belf-Becker intended to recuse herself from were those affecting teacher salaries and conditions of employment.