Essex County District Attorney Blodgett Rules Out Sixth Term; Gave 2019 Groveland Press Conference

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett and Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen speaking in 2019. (WHAV News photograph)

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, who has served two decades, said Wednesday he does not plan to seek re-election later this year.

Blodgett, a Peabody Democrat who has run unopposed in every election since he first claimed his seat with 50% of the vote in a 2002 primary, said his decision came after “considerable thought and discussion with my family.”

“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as the Essex District Attorney for the past 20 years.  I will always be indebted to the people of Essex County for their confidence in me,” Blodgett said in a statement.

Blodgett made a rare public visit to the area in 2019 when he conducted a press conference with Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen related to the murder of former Groveland building inspector Patsy Schena. Forty-eight-year-old Leedell Graham of Haverhill was charged with killing the 82-year-old man. At the press conference, Blodgett and Gillen declared Schena’s death a week earlier to be the result of “blunt and sharp force trauma.” Police believe Graham used a lamp from Schena’s Governors Road home to kill him.

Blodgett appeared on WHAV in 2017 to discuss his drug treatment diversion program that allows minor drug offenders to agree to treatment instead of serving time behind bars and having a criminal record.

“We determine the eligibility so we take people who are non-violent offenders who have a little or no record and give them the opportunity to get drug treatment in lieu of prosecution,” he told WHAV listeners.

Michael O’Keefe, Cape and Islands district attorney, also said Wednesday he would not seek a sixth four-year term. Massachusetts has 11 district attorneys. Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins is also resigning, taking her oath of office Monday as the next U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

O’Keefe and Blodgett both indicated they plan to serve out their terms. With about a year left in Rollins’ term, Gov. Charlie Baker must appoint someone to succeed her.

Blodgett said, “I am proud of the team I assembled, who work hard every day to seek justice for victims of crime.  Their diligence, determination, ethics, and compassion have served the people of this county well and have made my job deeply rewarding.”

Many public officials announce their plans near the start of an election year, often after discussions with relatives and supporters over the holidays. Fields for various races are starting to take shape, and the candidate mix for prosecutorial posts could also be influenced by whether Attorney General Maura Healey decides to run for governor or seek reelection as the state’s top lawyer.

O’Keefe, a Sandwich Republican, last faced an opponent in 2014 when he defeated Democrat Richard Barry with 56% of the vote.

(Katie Lannan and Chris Van Buskirk contributed to this report.)

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