CHESTER — There will be a contest for first selectman in the Nov. 3 election after all as Carolyn Linn claims the Republican nomination for first selectman with a ballot petition submitted to the town clerk Tuesday. Fifty-five-year-old Linn will face Democratic nominee Lauren Gister, aged 57, for the position left open with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan.
Republicans came up empty on the first selectman nomination at the July 27 party caucus that nominated incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert for a fourth term, along with a handful of other candidates for positions on the local ballot. Gister a lawyer and former Marine, had been nominated at the Democratic caucus on July 21, with Charlene Janecek as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher is not seeking a new term.
But in the succeeding days, Linn, a 26-year resident and certified veterinary assistant who runs a local pet services business, emerged as a candidate. Town Clerk Debra Calamari said Linn submitted a petition signed by 47 town Republicans late Tuesday, one day before Wednesday’s deadline for primary petitions.
State election law allows a position left open by the party nominating caucus to be filled by a primary petition that must be submitted by an Aug. 12 deadline. The petition must be signed by a least five percent of the town’s 453 registered Republicans. With no other candidate, there is no primary and the new candidate claims to Republican line through the petition.
Linn, in a statement issued Thursday, said her goals include “preserving our historic personality while responsibly developing local opportunities” that would enable the town to prosper. She cited taxes and economic development as concerns, and suggested her “entrepreneurial and volunteer spirit” would benefit the town.
Linn said she was a volunteer EMT with the Chester Volunteer Ambulance Service after arriving in town in the early 1990s, and has also been involved with the Chester Winter Carnivale and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens. She is the mother of two children, both of whom graduated from Region 4 schools.
Linn is the first Republican nominated for first selectman since 2009, when former First Selectman Tom Marsh was re-elected for a third term. Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont. Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman in 2011, when Meehan was easily elected over a challenger nominated by the Chester Common Ground Party. Meehan was uncontested for a second term in 2013, a year when there were no contests for any positions on the town lengthy ballot.
Along with a contest, this year’s nominations ensure the town’s next first selectman will be a woman, either Gister or Linn. The first, and only, woman to serve as Chester First Selectman is Bettie Perreault, a Republican who served from 1989-1993.