Long-time Town Clerk re-"tires" From Her Post

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By Tom Donaldson

Atlantic News, Tuesday, February 7, 1995

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

QUEEN FOR A DAY -- Jane Kelley, now Hampton's former town clerk, celebrates her retirement in style –- by going to McDonald's in Seabrook and munching on a Big Mac and a Coke. Citing her preference for the fast food joint, Kelley said, "It isn't worth all that money to go to a stupid testimonial for three hours."
[Atlantic News Photo by Tom Donaldson]

HAMPTON -- In her kitchen, over several cups of wonderful coffee, Jane Kelley, who was to retire the next day, spent three hours spinning tales about her children, her life as a military wife, of the many wonderful people she had met, and her political career — mainly as Hampton's town clerk. although she admitted to being "tired" in her town position, she has no intention of being "retired." She only moves on and up to her second election term in the New Hampshire State Legislature.

There were many, many laughs — and just a couple of tears — as she discussed the relationship she had with everyone from top national political leaders to local "Einsteins," as she calls the town selectmen. By her own admission, Kelley has a "tongue like a switchblade knife," and rarely holds back her opinion on political matters (or anything else), but without exception, pointed out the good qualities of those she has encountered and their right to do as they saw fit. She is quick to say that the goodness those with whom she has worked far exceeded the negatives of her 26 years in Hampton, and 18 years in the town clerk position. (And, by the way, she wants to thank an unidentified resident of Dunvegan Woods who gave her a great stock tip recently).

She moved to Hampton in 1968, with three of her four children because she felt that here "... there was no caste system and people aren't afraid to smile." With her husband and oldest son in Viet Nam, she came from Kensington to shop in the old A & P Supermarket, where she formed her opinion about the friendliness of Hamptonites.

"I met so many nice people, and because I'm nosey, made wonderful relationships," she said.

Armed with her "wonderful relationships," in 1972 she decided to run for the State Legislature's '73-'74 session. She went door-to-door and passed out over 1300 jars of pickles and jellies that she had preserved herself, using the slogan, "Get New Hampshire out of this jam"; or "... out of this pickle." Her loss by a very few votes was devastating. Contemplating the end of her political career appeared to her as giving up, so she ran again and won a seat in the 1975-76 Legislature.

On the town clerk's position, she is outspoken citing its importance.

'"The town clerk is the first person you meet when you move here and it should be someone who supports understanding, patience, and kindness ... what this town needs," Kelly said.

She is also outspoken in her support for her "dear friend, and right arm," Arleen Andreozzi, deputy town clerk, as her replacement. After 12 years, Kelley says, "She knows exactly what to do and how to do it."

The law states that the deputy shall replace a retiring clerk until the next election, and there is no reason why she shouldn't continue on, says Kelley. Kelley intends to stay in the "neat-as-a-pin" house where she now lives.

"I don't ever want to leave Hampton," she states.

When she first bought the four-bedroom home where she is just a block from her office, she shared it as a "safe house" for alcoholics.

"With all of its problems over seven years, it was a wonderful, happy, sharing time," she said.

That is just a little of what Jane Kelley is all about as she moves on, except for one thing: the next day's retirement party. Living on the Seacoast with many of New Hampshire's finest restaurants, she chose McDonald's in Seabrook, where she held court with a host of twenty friends, and munched on a Big Mac and drank a Coke.

"It isn't worth all that money to go to a stupid testimonial for three hours," she said. And that is what Jane Kelley is all about.

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