May 22, 2018

Chester Democrats Nominate Edmund Meehan for First Selectman, Common Ground Party Nominates Andrew Landsman for Challenge

CHESTER— Democrats gave an enthusiastic endorsement to Edmund Meehan for first selectman at the party nominating caucus Tuesday, with Andrew Landsman emerging as a challenger for the top job on the Chester Common Ground Party ticket. Town Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman at the party caucus Monday.

Meehan, 64, is a 30-year town resident who currently works as town planner for Newington. Meehan, a married father of four, began his career in the 1970s as assistant director for the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and staffer for the regional Connecticut River Gateway Commission. He began working as a planner for the City of Hartford in 1982 before taking the Newington job in 1987.

Meehan served as a member of the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission from 1984 to 1991, and as chairman of the panel from 1985-1987. He served on the Chester Board of Finance from 1993 to 2002, and as chairman from 1999 to 2002.

Meehan said he decided to run for first selectman earlier this month, after three-term Republican-turned Independent First Selectman Tom Marsh announced in June that he would resign August 1 to become town manager in Windsor, Vt. Meehan said he is not in a position to take on the role of interim first selectman next month because of commitments to his 23-year job in Newington.

Meehan said maintaining town services and its quality of life in a difficult national economy would be the main challenge for the 2011-2013 selectmen’s term. Democrats nominated incumbent Selectman Lawrence Sypher for a second term as Meehan’s running-mate for board of selectmen in the Nov. 8 town election.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman, with incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert nominated Monday for a second term on the board.

Mario Gioco, Republican town chairman, said party members are “still looking and talking to people,” while acknowledging there would probably not be a Republican nominee to succeed Marsh in the top job this year.

A Republican challenger could still petition to the GOP ballot line by submitting petitions signed by five per cent of the town’s registered Republicans, or 23 signatures, by an Aug. 10 deadline. Gioco said the town committee is planning to petition nominees on to other vacant spots on the GOP slate.

With Republicans lacking a candidate, it initially seemed that Meehan would be uncontested for first selectman this year. But the Common Ground Party, which also held a caucus Monday, nominated Andrew Landsman for first selectman, with party-co-founder Glen Reyer as his running mate for board of selectmen. The Common Ground Party formed in 2009, and currently has a 12-member town committee. The new party nominated candidates for some board and commission seats in 2009, but no challenger for first selectman, a step that secured a ballot line for the party this year.

Landsman, 49, is a former executive with CIGNA Corp. who currently works as facilities manager at the local Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility. A town resident for nearly five years, Landsman currently serves on the inland-wetlands commission, and was initially included on the Democratic slate as nominee for a new term on the IWC. Reyer, 64, is an 11-year resident who served previously on the planning and zoning commission. He and Michael Sanders co-founded the Chester Common Ground Party in 2009.

The nominating sessions have set up a contest for first selectman between Meehan and Landsman, and a contest for the other two seats on the board of selectmen between Sypher, Englert, and Reyer.

Contests have emerged for other positions on the town’s lengthy municipal election ballot. Democrats nominated incumbent Virginia Carmany and  new candidate Robert Gorman for full six-year terms on the board of finance, with Lori Ann Clymas nominated for board of finance alternate. Republicans nominated Charles Park and Reyer for board of finance, creating a possible vacancy on the slate for Reyer’s spot that could be filled by petition. Common Ground nominated Susan Wright, a registered Democrat who had expressed interest in the first selectman nomination, for board of finance and Richard Nygard for board of finance alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Elaine Fitzgibbons for a new term on the Region 4 Board of Education, with Common Ground nominating Michael Hotkowski for the seat. Republicans, who hold the town’s other two seats on the Region 4 board, did not nominate a candidate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Laurie Rubionow and David Fitzgibbons for the Chester Board of Education, with Nicole Sypher nominated for a two-year vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent board chairwoman Wendy King and Lisa Tollefson for the local board of education, with King, Tollefson and James Gordon nominated for the local school board by the Common Ground Party.

Seats on the planning and zoning commission are contested. Democrats nominated incumbents Jon Mark Lavy, Sally Murray, and Peter Keheyias for full six-year terms, with longtime commission Chairman Michael Joplin nominated for a two-year vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent Melvin Seifert for planning and zoning commission, with Doreen Joslow nominated to contest Joplin for the two-year vacancy term. Joslow, who is also endorsed by the Common Ground Party for the vacancy term, was briefly a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 36th House District special election last winter. Common Ground endorsed Murray and Seifert for PZC.

Democrats nominated Henry Krempel for a full-term as planning and zoning commission alternate, with Sarah Jansen nominated for a four-year vacancy as PZC alternate. Common Ground nominated Patricia Visacky for the full term as PZC alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbent Mark Borton and Caryl Horner for full terms on the zoning board of appeals, with Common Ground nominating Al Visacky for a full-term on ZBA and Lisa Tollesfson for ZBA alternate.

Democrats nominated incumbents Sally Sanders and Kim Senay for inland-wetlands commission, with Republicans nominating Kris Seifert for IWC. Common Ground nominated Democratic incumbent Sanders and Al Visacky.

Republican incumbent Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, is uncontested for board of assessment appeals. Incumbent Democrat James Pease is uncontested for a new term on the water pollution control authority. Democrats nominated incumbents Edith Prisloe and Margaret Carter-Ward for library board of trustees, with Matthew Sanders nominated by Common Ground for library board of trustees.

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