August 31, 2015

Local legislators split on state’s new “land swap” law; Daily in favor, Miller against

View of the state land in the swap, which has a river view

The “Haddam land swap” bill, which the Governor approved last Friday (July 8), is now the law of the State of Connecticut. The two local legislators who represent the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester took completely opposite views on the issue.

State Senator Eileen Daily was the enthusiastic sponsor of the new law, whereas State Representative Phillip Miller strongly opposed it, consistent with his reputation as an uncompromising environmentalist.

The new “land swap” law provides that the state can enter into an even swap of 17.4 acres of a state owned, wildlife management area in Haddam, for an 87 acre track of woodlands adjacent to Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum, owned by a private developer.

A big issue is whether this is a fair deal for the state, since the state paid $1.3 million for the property that it is swapping, and the private developer paid only $428,000 for its property in the deal. Furthermore, the purchase dates of the two properties were only six years apart, 2003 in the case of the state, and 2009 for the developer.

There is no money involved in the swap. The entire deal, sanctioned by the new law, is a pure swap, one parcel of land for another.

Haddam bridge and Goodspeed Opera House, close to the state land being swapped

The state’s 17.4 acre land in the swap overlooks the Eagle Landing State Park, as well as in the distance the Haddam swings bridge and the Goodspeed Opera House across the river. The private developer’s Higganum land in the swap is 87 acres of woodlands, next to the state’s second largest park. In addition, according to swap sponsor Daily, “as many as 33 new single family homes could be built on the Higganum parcel.”

To still the controversy over the fact that the state paid far more for its land than the private developer, the new law mandates that current appraisals be made of the properties to make sure that they are, presently, of equivalent value.

Also, both parties under the new law must make “all reasonable efforts” to conclude the details of the swap by the end of this year. In addition, the new law provides that the State Properties Review Board must approve the swap deal.

The mission of the Review Board, according to its website, is “to provide oversight of State real estate activities … as proposed by State Executive Branch agencies.”

Furthermore, the Board is directed “to assure that transactions are done in a prudent, business-like manner that costs are reasonable, and that proposals are in compliance with State laws, regulations and procedures.”

This language could address the question as to whether or not the state was getting a good or bad deal in the swap, regardless of disparities in the original costs involved in acquiring the two properties.

State Senator Eileen Daily

Also, of course the Governor’s view of the swap could weigh heavily on what the Review Board ultimately decides. As for the Governor’s take on the deal, the Hartford Courant reported that Governor Malloy visited both parcels last Thursday (July 7), and said, “I came to the conclusion that it is potentially a fair transaction, subject to a process,” which would include valuation of both properties and local zoning approvals.

Swab bill sponsor, Senator Eileen Daily said, “I supported this initiative because it makes good sense to concentrate development in the built-up area of Tylerville and add 87 contiguous acres to what is already Connecticut’s second-largest State Forest.  This plan makes good sense environmentally and in terms of economic development for the area,” she said.

In his comments freshman State Representative Miller was careful to be respectful of Senator Eileen Daily, who is a five term incumbent Senator. He said, “I wish I was not against Senator Daily on this [issue], since her public service is quality.”

Miller then went on to harshly criticize the Governor’s actions in signing the swap bill into law. “I am surprised that Governor Malloy would not recognize the bad public policy and false argument  that this bill represents, ” Miller said.

State Representative Phil Miller

Miller also said the bill “presupposes that the legislature would first convey what is clearly conservation land, as though it were surplus to a private developer.” This precedent undermines the foundation of our conservation [policies] hundreds of years in the making here in Connecticut,” he said.

Miller then took a swipe at the state’s new environmental commissioner, saying, “It is too bad that a world [class] academic like Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Esty would not commit to study this issue.”

“Conservationists, sportspeople and citizens from all walks of life in Connecticut are disappointed with the process,” Miller said. “Some citizens of Haddam feel disenfranchised because not a single Board or Commission has had this subject on their agendas, and no town-sponsored public forum was ever convened.”

The Representative Miller concluded, “I am proud to still stand with citizens who feel as we do about this issue.”

Deep River environmental activist John Kennedy was even more outspoken in his criticisms of the swap law. Kennedy criticized what he called “the shameful way that Governor Malloy and his appointed environmental chief, Dan Esty, dodged and fumbled this matter.”

John Kennedy

Kennedy also criticized swap sponsor Senator Eileen Daily. “Daily clearly has an agenda, whatever it is,” he said, and he added, “She is powerful because no one gets any money for their constituent’s projects without her.”

Furthermore, Kennedy charged that Governor Malloy and Commissioner Esty had “no understanding of the state’s environmental law,” exemplified by the Governor’s signing of the new swap law, which Kennedy called “this scarlet letter.”

As for the new law’s impact on Haddam and East Haddam, Kennedy predicted that it will mean “the death of almost all of their small, local businesses … , suffocated by the new shopping mall and hotel.”

“But – [both towns] will have the wonderful bonus of a new river view of a hotel and shopping center – instead of that horrible and ‘polluted’ wildlife management area,” he said sarcastically.

“My – what a great idea this is. This is a perfect storm of stupidity and greed.”

Selectman Norman Needleman Expected to Seek Democratic First Selectman Nomination in Essex with Possible Challenge

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman is expected to seek the party nomination for the open seat of first selectman, but Needleman is expected to face a challenge for the position from Anthony Chirico.

Needleman is expected to formally declare his candidacy Monday at 6 p.m. outside the Essex town hall. Needleman said Wednesday he has a prospective running-mate for board of selectmen, a woman who would also formally declare as a candidate Monday. Needleman, a local businessman who owns Tower Laboratories located in the Essex Industrial Park, has served on the board of selectmen since 2003. Needleman is seeking to succeed his former running-mate, Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who announced he would not seek re-election to the town’s top job after winning election as state representative for 36th House District in a February special election.

Needleman had been widely expected to run for the top job after Miller’s announcement earlier this year, but a challenge emerged this week when Anthony Chirico announced in an email to members of the Essex Democratic Town Committee that he would seek the party’s nomination with Linda Savitsky as his running-mate for board of selectmen.

Chirico a business consultant, who advises clients in China, is a former Republican who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee against Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in the 33rd Senate District in 2000 and 2002. Chirico, an Ivoryton resident, became a Democrat in 2004 and later joined the Essex Democratic Town committee.

Chirico served previously on the zoning commission, as has Savitsky. A former state Office of Policy and Management employee, Savitsky is married to Alvin Wolfgram, the current chairman of the zoning commission. Wolfgram served on the board of selectmen from 1995 to 1997 before running unsuccessfully against former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster in the 1997 town election.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will meet on July at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall to nominate candidates for municipal office.  Candidates who are unsuccessful at the endoresement session could force a Sept. 13 Democratic primary for various ballot positions by submitting petitions signed by five percent of the town’s Democratic voters by an early August deadline.

Town Republicans will nominate candidates for the Nov. 8 town election at a party caucus scheduled for July 20 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall. Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, who had been widely expected to run for first selectman this year after losing to Miller by about 400 votes in 2009, is not seeking the party’s nomination for first selectman.

Needleman to Hold Monday Press Conference About Future Plans

Essex’s Second Selectman, Norman Needleman, has scheduled a press conference outside Essex Town Hall on Monday, July 18 at 6 p.m. At the conference it is anticipated that Needleman will announce his candidacy for First Selectman of the Town of Essex. However, Needleman declined give the subject of the press conference.

The office of First Selectman of Essex is presently held by Phillip Miller, who is in his fourth term. At a special election earlier this year, Miller was elected as a State Representative, and since that time he has held both the offices of State Representative and First Selectman of Essex. However, Miller has said that he would not run for re-election as First Selectman, once his term is completed later this year.

“It’s time to move on,” Miller said in a recent interview. Prior to his election as Essex’s First Selectman, Miller served for two terms as Essex’s Third Selectman.

Smith Seeking 12th Term as Deep River First Selectman, Uncontested Race Considered Likely

DEEP RIVER— The dean of the area first selectmen is ready for one more term in the town’s top job. Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith is expected to be nominated for a record 12th term when town Democrats convene at a nominating caucus next week to select candidates for positions in the Nov. 8 town election.

Smith, who was first elected in 1989 and is one of the longest serving municipal chief elected officials in Connecticut, confirmed Tuesday that he would seek a new term this year. Despite some speculation he would step aside after 22 years in the top job, Smith said he never really considered not running again this year.  “I still love the job,” Smith said, “I enjoy talking to people in town and I get so much satisfaction out of being able to resolve issues and help people.”

Smith will have a new Democratic running-mate for board of selectmen this year, but contests may be few and far between when town voters go to the polls in November.

Smith said Russell Marth is expected to receive the Democratic nomination for board of selectmen at the July 20 caucus. Incumbent Selectman Arthur Thompson, who replaced nine-term former Democratic Selectman Richard Daniels in 2009, is not seeking re-election.

Marth had served as minority member of the board of selectmen from 2007-2009 after winning election in 2007 under the banner of the Deep River Independent Party. The Deep River Independent Party ran a challenge slate in 2007, with local architect John Kennedy unsuccessfully contesting Smith for first selectman. The independent group waged an aggressive campaign, opposing many of Smith’s Main Street economic development initiatives, particularly the construction of a new and larger Cumberland Farms store with gasoline pumps.

But Smith said he is holding no grudges from 2007, describing Marth as an effective member of the board during the two years he served. “He did what he thought was best for the town,” Smith said, noting that Marth is currently the volunteer chairman of the appointed Deep River Community Health Board that has coordinated the town’s public health and charitable efforts since the Deep River Public Health Nurses Association was disbanded in July 2010.

Thompson, who also serves as chairman of the Deep River Democratic Town committee, said Marth has made peace with town Democrats, and joined the town committee in 2010. He was endorsed by the Democratic town committee for the open board of selectmen nomination last month. “We’re glad to have him,” Thompson said. “We believe he really was an effective selectman during those two years he served.”

Republican Selectman David Olivera, who outpolled Marth to win the minority seat on the board of selectmen in 2009, is expected to seek a second term this year. No Republicans have announced as candidates to challenge Smith this year. Local Republicans did not contest Smith for first selectman in 2009, or in 2007, when the only challenge was waged by Kennedy and the Deep River Independent party.

The Republican nominating caucus is set for July 25 at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Bank office on Main Street. Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, who won the open seat over Democrat Nancy Talbot by two votes in 2009, is seeking a second term this year.

Thompson said Tuesday town Democrats are not expected to contest Winchell for the town clerk position. The Democratic nominating caucus convenes on July 20 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

 

“Save The Ferries” Supporters Develop Fight Strategy

Richard Prowell, a founder and member of the Hadlyme Ferry Historic District Commission, explains how the Historic District was created and that the ferry’s route across the river is included as part of the Historic District.

More than 50 supporters of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry gathered yesterday evening in Hadlyme Public Hall to map out a strategy to save the Connecticut River ferries from being closed down by the state.

Sponsored by the Hadlyme Public Hall Association, the meeting was called by local organizers, who explained that they had been told by state Department of Transport executives that elimination of ferry service is on the list of budget cuts being considered by Governor Malloy.

Since news of the possible closure leaked out six months ago, the Hadlyme Hall Association has spearheaded local efforts to require the state to a take hard look at the benefits provided by the ferries, including tourism, energy savings, and a route often used by emergency vehicles.

One of the points made yesterday by a number of speakers is that the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is the only way to cross the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and the East Haddam Bridge.  This latter bridge is often closed to traffic since it is a swing bringe and must frequently be opened to allow boats to pass beneath it.

When the East Haddam Bridge is open for boats and thus blocks traffic attempting to cross the river, the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is the sole means to cross the river between Old Saybrook and Middletown.

At Tuesday’s meeting the attendees mapped out plans to meet with local government officials and business leaders to urge them to express their support for the ferries to state officials.

Jeffery Riley, a resident of the Hadlyme area, shows how the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is a "funnel" for tourism traffic to popular vacation and visitor attractions, such as Gillette Castle, Devil's Hopyard State Park, Fox Hopyard Golf Course, and several summer colonies.

The Hadlyme Public Hall Association has underwritten the expense of developing a mailing list derived from the more 2,000 signers of a petition circulated last December urging the state to continue the ferry service. The Association is currently mailing out postcards that encourage those petition-signers to contact their state legislators.

Anyone who would like to assist in the effort to save the ferries should send an e-mail to hadlymehall@gmail.com or call 518-253-4844.

Renewed Effort to Save the Ferries – Public Meeting June 28

With the renewed prospect of further cuts in state funding, it seems very likely that elimination of the Chester-Hadlyme and Rock Hill ferries will be on Governor Malloy’s list of budget cuts which he will ask the legislature to approve.

In an effort to engage public support to save the ferries there will be a public meeting on Tuesday June 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Hadlyme Public Hall, located at the intersection of Ferry Road (Rt. 146), Day Hill Road and Joshuatown Road in Lyme.

Earlier this year the Hadlyme Public Hall Association paid to have a mailing list compiled of more than 800 names of those who signed petitions to save the ferries last December, and the Association will be sending a postcard appeal to that list urging them to call their state legislators.  The Association has authorized the expenditure of $1,000 to cover any expenses associated with this effort.

Ferry supporters ask that everyone who wishes to assist in this effort should attend this meeting, submitting that this may be the last chance to “Save the Ferries.”

Deputy Secretary of State James Spallone visits Deep River Rotary Club

Members of the Deep River Rotary Club with Mr. Spallone. (1st Row L to R: Jenny Pace, Ken Wood; 2nd Row: Phyllis Haut, Hedy Watrous, Lorianne Panzara, James Spallone, Tinder Baser, Dick Smith, John LaPlante; Back Row: Skip Routh, Kevin Brewer, Tim Haut, Jimmy DeLano, Tom Lindner)

 

Deep River, CT– On Tuesday May 31, the Deep River Rotary Club hosted a very special lucheon with Mr. James Field Spallone, Deputy Secretary of State, as their guest speaker on Tuesday.

 Spallone spoke on issues about his current office such as voting, business registration and current affairs in our state government.

The Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at the Ivory Restarurant.  If you would like more information on our club please visit us at www.deepriverrotary.com or call Jimmy DeLano (860)227-1159

Rep. Phil Miller Appointed to National Panel Addressing Nuclear Issues

State Rep. Phil Miller

Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden) has appointed State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) to serve on the bipartisan National Council of State Legislature’s (NCSL) Nuclear Legislative Workgroup.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to represent Connecticut,” said Miller. “Our state and our country must find ways to provide cleaner, more efficient, and safer energy options for future generations. There are 102 nuclear power plants in the United States and there are long-term waste storage practices and policies to be resolved.”

The NCSL’s Nuclear Legislative Workgroup is made up of state legislators from states around the country that are dealing with the clean-up of the nation’s nuclear sites, host nuclear facilities, or are affected by the transportation of nuclear materials.

The workgroup which meets twice a year is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. At these meetings, legislators discuss safe practices and policy options, and receive updates on federal policy.

“Although Phil Miller may be new to the legislature, he has a proven track record as a municipal official that make him the ideal candidate to represent Connecticut,” said Donovan. “I am confident that Phil’s expertise will be a welcome addition to the group.”

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves legislators and staff of the nation’s 50 states. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. For more information, visit www.ncsl.org.

State Representative Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He sits on the legislature’s Environment, Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

Deep River Selectmen Set May 24 Referendum on Proposed $13.89 Million Town Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has scheduled a May 24 referendum on the proposed $13,896,944 town budget plan for 2011-2012. At a meeting Tuesday, the board also decided to hold a full day of balloting, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Deep River Public Library community room.

The total spending plan includes a $3,617,748 town government budget, a $5,192,900 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, $699,000 in town and school related debt service costs, and the town’s $4,387,300 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total is locked in because the district budget was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 3 referendum. The town government budget is down from current spending by $372,756, while the elementary school budget increases spending by $272,697.

The spending package is expected to require a tax increase of up to 2.55 mills, with most of the projected increase the direct result of an 8 percent drop in the October 2010 grand list of taxable property because last year’s state-mandated town wide revaluation was done in a weak real estate market. The current tax rate is 21.73 mills, or $21.73 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Despite the pending tax increase, the May 3 public hearing on the town government and elementary school budgets drew a sparse turnout. First Selectman Richard Smith said about 30 residents turned out for the hearing, discussing the spending package for about an hour. While there were some questions about staffing in the elementary school budget, Smith said there were no calls for specific changes or reductions in the budget.

In setting the budget referendum date and voting hours, the board discussed the extremely low turnout in the Region 4 referendum, where only 207 of the town’s 3,110 registered voters cast ballots. Smith said some residents had raised questions to him over the past week about sponsoring a referendum with such a low voter turnout.

But after discussion, the selectmen agreed to continue the annual referendum voting on the town budget that began amid a heated local budget battle in 2001. “It’s not a money thing,” said Selectman Art Thompson.

The budget will be up for discussion a final time at the annual budget meeting set for Monday May 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at Deep River Elementary School. The town meeting will adjourn to the referendum vote on Tuesday May 24.

Rep. Phil Miller’s Bill Improving Seniors’ Access to Affordable Health Care Moving Forward

State Representative Phil Miller (Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam) is pleased that legislation he has sponsored to improve access to healthcare and lower costs for Connecticut’s seniors is moving forward at the legislature.

“This is a win for everyone—seniors and taxpayers,” said Miller. “This gives seniors an option, if they choose, to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan. Not only will it reduce their out of pocket expenses, but it will lower costs for the state too.”

Miller’s bill (HB 5429) simply modifies state law to permit seniors who are qualified Medicare beneficiaries to access supplemental health insurance and reduce their out of pocket expenses. The state’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has confirmed a potential cost savings for the state, if the bill is passed.

Miller, the newest member of the state legislature’s Human Services Committee, noted that the committee unanimously passed his bill and that he was optimistic that it would be passed by the full legislature.

The bill, supported by AARP, will make its way to the state house floor for a vote in the coming weeks.

Miller, a Democrat, was elected on February 22 in a special election to represent the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

State Representative Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He sits on the legislature’s Environment, Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

Malloy Revises Property Tax Credit, Reduces Middle Class Tax Burden

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (Photo Christine Stuart)

On his 100th day in office on Thursday and after 17 town hall meetings, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that he will modify ever-so-slightly his proposal to eliminate the $500 property tax credit on middle income earners, reducing it instead to $300.

Read the full story by Christine Stuart on CT News Junkie.com.

Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Courtney and DEP Commissioner Esty Joined Save the Sound to Kick Off Earth Day Celebration

On Saturday morning, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty joined Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and more than 75 local volunteers to kick off a month long celebration of Earth Day at a planting at the Bride Brook restoration project in Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme. Saturday’s planting is the final phase of the restoration project that began in 2009.

Bride Brook is a wholly unique estuarine system that hosts the second largest migratory fish run in the state, bested only by the Connecticut River. As part of the Bride Brook restoration project, Save the Sound coordinated the replacement of the collapsing culvert to allow herring to swim through it on their way to Bride Lake to spawn. Last season, more than 164,000 herring swam passed through the new culvert. Herring have already started to migrate through the culvert in the 2011 spawning run.

The Bride Brook restoration project was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which awarded Save the Sound $1.5 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to support two marsh restoration projects — the Bride Brook culvert replacement and the West River tidal gate replacement in New Haven. NOAA, in conjunction with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, FishAmerica Foundation, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and Restore America’s Estuaries, made the Bride Brook project a reality

Rep. Phil Miller Calls For Labelling of Genetically Modified Food

State Representative Phil Miller (Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam) announced that consumer friendly legislation that would label products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) passed the state legislature’s Environment Committee.

“Connecticut consumers deserve to know what they are buying,” said Miller. “I have heard from many folks, especially parents, who are concerned because we just don’t know what the long term effects from GMOs might be. This bill simply provides consumers with information so they may make an informed purchase.”

The legislation (SB 1116) would require products containing GMOs to be labeled if sold in Connecticut. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection and Commissioner of Consumer Protection would be responsible for label content and form.

Miller noted that five countries in the European Union currently ban GMOs.

GMOs are products that have been genetically modified at the cellular level to increase yields and resist disease.  DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes.

The bill will make its way to the full legislature for a vote in the coming weeks.

Miller, a Democrat, is the newest member of the Environment Committee. He was elected on February 22nd in a special election to represent the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

Deep River Democrats Spring Fling!

The Deep River Democratic Party will be holding its Spring Fling 2011 on Friday April 8, from 6.30 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. at the Carriage House, Deep River Historical Society, 245 Main Street, Deep River.

Music will be provided by the Shiny Lapel Trio and there will be food, cold beer, wine and soft drinks and dancing, as well as a silent auction and raffle.

Tickets are $20 per person.  Call AnnMarie Joy for information at 860-526-1320 or Lisa Bibbiani at 860-526-4589.

 

Haddam First Selectman Supports Land Transfer Calls on State Lawmakers to Approve the Exchange

Riverhouse Properties has announced the support of Haddam First Selectman Paul DeStefano for the transfer of 17 acres of state-owned land in Haddam in exchange for an 87-acre tract adjacent to the Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum.

“It will result in much needed tourism, which will translate into more jobs and more environmental comprehension and awareness,” DeStefano said, adding, “It will also provide a synergy of opportunity with the neighboring Town of East Haddam and bolster the economy of both towns as we seek to strengthen our infrastructure to deal with the challenges of the future.”

The land exchange with Riverhouse Properties was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2009.  According to Riverhouse Properties, the 17 acres owned by DEP in Haddam is surrounded by fully developed industrial and commercial land, a sprawling DOT complex and Eagle Landing State Park.  Additionally, Riverhouse Properties claims that the 87-acre forest property is ideal for preservation while the DEP land is better suited for tourism-related economic development, as called for in the Haddam Economic Development Plan for this specific property.

“The land exchange offers Haddam a reason to stimulate its lagging regulation and zoning reform for the Tylerville Village so that our foundation can support the type of future development that will be consistent with the environmental, cultural, and business goals that are a part of our Conservation and Development Plan,” DeStefano said.

A public hearing on the property conveyance bill will be held in the near future by the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee.  First Selectman DeStefano will be testifying in support of the bill.

“Passage will insure that the major parcel of land in Higganum that adjoins the state forest will not be developed in such a manner that would saddle the town with future educational expenses — costs that would only continue to hurt our attempts to survive in this weak, punishing economy,” Destefano noted.

Phil Miller Takes Office at State Capitol

State Rep. Phil Miller being sworn in at the State Capitol

Newly sworn in State Representative Phil Miller officially took office at the State Capitol as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly.

“I am honored that the residents of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam have put their faith in me to represent them in these challenging times,” said Miller. “I’m looking forward to using my experience balancing municipal budgets as we work together to find balanced solutions that make sense for our state.”

Miller, a Democrat, was elected on February 22nd in a special election to represent the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. James Spallone had represented the district since 2000, but gave up his seat in early January after being named Deputy Secretary of the State.

Miller was named to the Environment, Human Services, and Public Health committees by Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden).

The Environment Committee is responsible for all issues relating to Connecticut’s environment and agriculture. The Human Services Committee oversees all legislation concerning the Department of Social Services (DSS), the state’s largest agency, and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Public Health Committee has authority over all programs and matters relating to health matters, including mental health, emergency medical services,  substance abuse, medical licenses, nursing homes, pure food and drugs, and controlled substances.

“Phil brings a wealth of experience to the Capitol that will be very beneficial as we face the challenges ahead,” said Donovan. “As First Selectman of Essex, Phil provides an important perspective on the relationship between our smaller towns and the state.”

Democrat Courtney decries “a disconnect” with Republicans in Congress

Publisher of ValleyNewsNow.com, Olwen Logan greets Congressman Joe Courtney at Essex Library

Congressman Joe Courtney (2nd CD – CT) decried what he termed “a disconnect” between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the last election. Courtney made the observation in an exclusive interview with ValleyNewsNow.com at the Essex Library on March 6.

Courtney cited as an example of this disconnect, the widely divergent views on President Obama’s proposal to build a national high speed rail network. “There is such a chasm between the two sides on this issue,” he said. Courtney is a strong advocate of the President’s high speed rail proposal, noting that the New York to Boston corridor, which encompasses his district, has a greater need for high speed rail service “than any other region in country.”

Courtney also commented on a number of national issues. As to whether the Democrats should nominate Obama for President for re-election in 2012, Courtney said simply, “He’s our man.”  However, Courtney faulted the President for not shutting down the American prison in Guantanamo for terrorism suspects. He termed it “a big disappointment” that the President had not kept his campaign promise on this issue. “How long would it have taken U.S. civilian courts to try some 170 cases,” he asked rhetorically.

On the other hand, Courtney said that the Obama Administration was on schedule in pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. However, he said that the U.S. pull out  in Afghanistan was being extended to 2016, a different date than the one given in the last campaign.

As for the Tea Party movement that was such a significant factor in the 2010 elections, Courtney felt that the party “had overreached,” and that it would be less of a political factor in the future.

As for his own Committee assignments, Courtney, who is now a Minority Member, said that he was “squeezed out” of his spot on the Education Committee. However, he has been named as a Member of the House Agricultural Committee, an assignment which he feels could be relevant to the agricultural areas in his district and other wider issues as well.

Miller narrowly defeats Peckinpaugh in race for State House seat

It was not supposed to be that way. In the overwhelming Democratic 36th State House district, Democrat Phil Miller was forecast to win in a walk over Republican Janet Peckinpaugh. Instead the final unofficial totals were 2,751 votes for Miller to 2,526 for Peckingpaugh, in percentages 52% to 48%.

With just a shift of just a hundred votes, from Miller to Peckinpaugh, the Republican could have won.  One of the biggest surprises of the vote was that Peckinpaugh carried the traditionally Democrat town of Haddam by close to 200 votes. If Miller had not carried his home town of Essex by over two hundred votes,  the Democrats would have  suffered a surprising defeat.

Miller thanks his winning campaign manager, Lon Seidman of Essex

By towns, the unofficial tallies were: 

   Essex 1,100 to 909 for Miller
   Deep River 509 to 463 for Miller
   Chester 484 to 299 for Miller
   Haddam 658 to 855 for Peckinpaugh.

In victory Miller acknowledged that the race was “pretty close.” He also credited his opponent, Peckinpaugh, with running a “spirited race.”  As to why his victory had been so narrow, he admitted that Governor Dan Malloy’s recent announcement of new state taxes may have helped Peckinpaugh. Peckinpaugh based her campaign on “no new taxes.”

As for his future work in Hartford, Miller said, “We are going to have to under promise and over deliver.” Also, Miller reiterated that he is going to keep his position as First Selectman of Essex, until his term is up in November. After that he said he would be looking for a part time job, as do most legislators, to augment his modest income as a state representative.

Peckinpaugh after here concession speech at Griswold Inn

For her part Peckinpaugh was close to tears, when she addressed supporters at the Griswold Inn after the returns were in. “The reason that I am so emotional,” she said, “is that all of you worked so hard.” “We won Haddam,” she said, “but lost because of a big turnout in Essex.“

She concluded, “I was so ready to go to Hartford. Thank you so much. It was so close.”

Braving the cold Peckingaugh and Miller vote early in today’s House election

It was a cold, cold election day, but that did not stop Republican Janet Peckingpaugh and Democrat Phil Miller from casting their ballots early in their race for State Representative in the 36th House district.

In fact, it was a very cold 15 degrees, when at 8:30 a.m. Peckinpaugh cast her ballot at Essex Town Hall. Miller, who also lives in Essex, said that he had voted at 7:00 a.m.

Number one on Peckinpaugh’s agenda is voting against Governor Dan Malloy’s proposed new taxes. “The first thing that I am going to do is to vote against any new taxes,” she said, “Our people are hurting, and they can’t afford them.”

Miller for his part pointed out that the Governor’s tax proposals are “only a starting point.” “It is up to the legislature,” he said, that ultimately approves new taxes. However, he cautioned, “Everyone is going to feel some discomfort,” when the tax questions are resolved in Hartford.

Peckinpaugh is also opposed to the Governor’s call for new taxes on boaters in the state. She fears that state residents will buy and maintain their boats out of state, if new boat taxes are enacted.

Miller’s response is that the district has “world class nautical merchants,” and he is confident that they will continue to maintain that position. He also called attention to the new system of pump out boats, which was an innovation that began in Essex, he said. 

Peckinpaugh also does not think it is a good idea for Miller to continue to hold his present the job of First Selectman of Essex, if he is elected as a State Representative. “People will get a short shrift,” if he does so, she said.

For his part Miller said that he owed to the people in Essex who elected him to finish his term as First Selectman. That term comes its end this November. 

VISIT WWW.VALLEYNEWSNOW.COM THIS EVENING FOR EARLIEST ELECTION RESULTS

Democrat Phil Miller and Republican Janet Peckinpaugh Face Off in the 36th District Special Election Tuesday

AREAWIDE— A four-term first selectman and a former television news anchorwoman face off Tuesday in a special election to fill the vacant 36th House District seat representing the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Democrat Phil Miller, Essex first selectman since 2003, and Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, also of Essex, were nominated at party conventions last month for a contest that developed at the end of December, when former Democratic State Rep. James Spallone announced he would give up the legislative seat to become deputy secretary of the state. Spallone, also of Essex, had held the seat since 2000, and was re-elected by a wide margin last year.

Both candidates have waged active campaigns in a six-week race that could be decided by voter turnout, and possibly local reaction to the budget plan, and tax increases, proposed Wednesday by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. Both candidates quickly qualified for funding under the state’s Citizens Elections Program, raising $3,750 in small contributions to secure a state campaign finance grant of $19,500. The candidates have put up signs, sent district-wide mailings, and participated in debates held on Feb. 11 in Essex and Thursday afternoon in Chester.

Miller, 52, has lived in the Ivoryton section of Essex since the 1980s, directing the Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton before winning the town’s top job in 2003 after unsuccessful runs in 1999 and 2001 that put him on the board of selectmen.

Peckinpaugh, 60, grew up in Canton, Ohio and arrived in Connecticut in 2004 to begin a 22-year career as a reporter and anchorwoman for all three of the state’s television network affiliates. She moved to Essex in May 2007, opening a media marketing and consulting firm that produces television and internet video advertisements. An unaffiliated voter during her television career, Peckinpaugh became a Republican last year and ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Connecticut.

The candidates differ, by degrees, on the budget and tax plan presented this week by Malloy. Miller said he is pleased that Malloy’s plan preserves state aid to cities and towns, and the education cost sharing grants that help fund public schools. But he has objections to some of the tax increase in Malloy’s plan, particularly the loss of a $500 tax credit intended to offset local property taxes that has been a Democrat supported initiative for more than a decade. Miller describes the local property tax as “a white elephant” that threatens lower income home owners, and points with pride to an elderly tax relief program he initiated in Essex in 2004.

Peckinpaugh contends the governor’s plan relies too much on higher taxes, and suggests tax increases should not be discussed until the there is a full review of all spending, with a focus on consolidations and reductions that could include privatizing some state departments, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Economic and Community Development. She also calls for formation of a “quasi-public transportation authority” that would run Bradley International Airport, ports on Long Island Sound, and the ferries across the Connecticut River in Chester and Glastonbury.

The candidates differ on two hot button issues that are likely to be debated this year, the death penalty and Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages. Miller said he opposes the death penalty “on moral grounds” and would support any proposal to repeal the state’s ultimate penalty. Miller said he would oppose Sunday sales because he believes a majority of the state’s liquor store owners oppose it.

Peckinpaugh said she favors retaining the death penalty for the most heinous crimes, and leans toward supporting Sunday sales as a way to generate some new revenue without new taxes.

Other issues in the campaign have been Miller’s intent to continue serving as first selectman in Essex if elected as state representative, holding both jobs through the end of the current term in November, and questions raised by Democrats about Peckinpaugh’s qualifications and roots in the district.

Miller maintains he would be able to effectively serve in both jobs through November, when he would not seek a new term as first selectman. Peckinpaugh, who pledges to devote nearly full-time to the legislative seat, said she sees a “conflict of interest” in holding both positions. A supporter of term limits, Peckinpaugh notes “you do not have to spend your life in public service to be a public servant.”

While Miller contends his experience in municipal government gives him broader qualifications and knowledge of the district towns, Peckinpaugh maintains her work experience as a journalist would bring a “new perspective” to the General Assembly. Peckinpaugh said she “loves Connecticut” and views Essex as her hometown. Peckinpaugh said she would not run for U.S. Congress again next year, even if Courtney decides to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

The winner Tuesday will serve until the next state election in November 2012.

Phil Miller: Will Vote No On Any Budget Without Comprehensive Property Tax Reform Plan

ESSEX, CT– Essex First Selectman and 36th District State Representative candidate Phil Miller today responded to Governor Malloy’s budget address, saying he will not vote for any budget proposal until the legislature has a comprehensive plan for property tax reform.

“I’ve balanced budgets here in Essex for the past eight years. I’ve made the painful cuts necessary to fund local programs, and I applaud Governor Malloy for his efforts to cut billions in spending. I know from experience tough decisions aren’t easy.” Miller said, “But we must go further to reduce the tax burden, and the time for real, concrete property tax reform is now. I will go to Hartford and fight for that change next week.”

Miller’s opponent Janet Peckinpaugh was caught off guard when asked about property tax reform at a recent debate in Essex, telling the audience “Wow. That’s something I really haven’t thought about.” A clip of her response to the question can be found here.

“All of my opponent’s talk on taxes rings hollow,” Miller said, “If you haven’t thought about property taxes, how can you fight to reduce them? I think about property taxes every day as the First Selectman of Essex. This archaic system needs a major overhaul to lift the burden of this regressive tax on our citizens.”

“Our state is facing the worst fiscal mess in decades and it will take very difficult choices to balance the budget. It won’t be pleasant—but the hard choices never are. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to go to Hartford and fight for the interests of the people of this District, and have an honest discussion about the needs of our state, starting with reforming the property tax system,” Miller added.

Phil Miller, elected Essex First Selectman in 2003, has an established record passing balanced budgets and reducing the size of local government.

The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Peckinpaugh Opposes Malloy Tax Plan

Says Passage Would Kill Jobs in CT River Valley.

Janet Peckinpaugh, Republican candidate for state representative for 36th House District

Essex, CT – Janet Peckinpaugh, Republican candidate for state representative for the 36th House District (Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam) said Monday she would vote against the historic tax increase offered by Gov. Dan Malloy, which would raise state income taxes, sales tax and end many tax exemptions for the boating industry, if approved.

“The Malloy tax plan is a disaster for our towns and our state,” Peckinpaugh said. “While we haven’t been given many specifics on spending cuts, we clearly see that Hartford Democrats default to what they know best – raise taxes on the people who are already tapped out.”

The Malloy plan to raise marginal tax rates up to 6.75 percent on incomes will inhibit investment and slow down an already weak economy.  But the Connecticut River Valley would particularly suffer from Malloy’s proposal to end some of the tax exemptions on the boating industry, a local industry that provides jobs and revenue and sustains many small businesses.

“Our boating industry has managed to stay competitive with neighboring states because of these exemptions,” Peckinpaugh said. “This short-sighted plan may sink the industry just like federal tax increases damaged shipyards in 1991.”

Peckinpaugh also reiterated her opposition to allowing cities and towns to generate more tax revenues through special taxes assessed at the local level.

“The last thing we need to do is allow more politicians the power to tax anything that moves,” Peckinpaugh said. “We need to have spending cuts that get to the heart of our deficit and not simply pawn off the problem through higher taxes. How much do the people in Hartford think we have to give for their fiscal mismanagement?”

Meet the Candidates at Chester Village West

Phil Miller

Janet Peckinpaugh

Phillip Miller and Janet Peckinpaugh, candidates running in a special election for State Representative, 36th district, will speak and be available to answer questions at Chester Village West on Thursday, February 17 at 4:30 pm. The 36th district includes Haddam, Chester, Deep River and Essex. The election is on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

Janet Peckinpaugh, the Republican candidate, is a former news anchor and local business owner. She ran against Congressman Joe Courtney in the November 2010 election.

Phillip Miller, the Democratic candidate, is currently serving in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman.

The public is welcome to attend. Chester Village West is located at 317 West Main Street, Chester. Please call 860-526-6800 for directions or information.

Hundreds Turn Out for the Miller-Peckinpaugh Debate in the 36th District Race

Standing room only at Essex Town Hall for the debate (photos courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— It was a large crowd for a short debate. That was the scene Friday evening as more than 200 residents from the 36th House District towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam jammed Essex Town Hall for the debate between Democrat Phil Miller and Republican Janet Peckinpaugh.

Miller, the four term first selectman of Essex, and Peckinpaugh, a former television news anchorwoman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in the 2nd District last year, face off Feb. 22 in a special election to fill the seat left vacant when former Democratic State Rep. James Spallone assumed the position of deputy secretary of the state.

Along with opening and closing statements, the candidates responded to five questions that were submitted and pre-screened before the debate. With the candidates not taking advantage of rebuttal opportunities that were part of the initial debate program, the session that was scheduled to last for one hour ended in about 35 minutes.

Miller, in opening remarks, cited his 12 years of municipal government experience as a selectman and first selectman in Essex. Miller said his successful effort to organize a six-town alliance to sponsor a pump-out boat operation to reduce discharges of sewage from boats in to the Connecticut River is a sign that he is a “consensus builder” who would be ready to fight for the district towns “on day one” if elected to the General Assembly.

Peckinpaugh declared she is “not a politician,” but a former journalist and small business person who would bring “a new perspective with fresh ideas ”to the legislature. She said Connecticut is in a “dire” situation, with a minimal job growth and a looming $3.5 billion budget shortfall.

In responding to a question about the budget shortfall, Peckinpaugh said “we do not even need to talk about taxes,” and called for “across the board cuts” in spending and possible privatization of the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state departments.

Miller said he would work with Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy to resolve the state’s budget problem through a combination of spending reductions and potential new revenue sources. “We can reduce the state workforce through attrition and reorganization, but it has to be done carefully,” he said.

Responding to a question about property taxes, Miller said the state’s reliance on local property taxes to fund public education was a “white elephant” that needs to be addressed through reforms. Miller noted that he had initiated a property tax relief program for the elderly in Essex that helps reduce the tax bill for low and moderate income elderly homeowners.

Peckinpaugh acknowledged that local property taxes are a “heavy burden” for many Connecticut residents, but suggested the state must focus on reducing spending before undertaking any new far-reaching reform of the property tax system and other taxes.

A question on the amount of time that would be dedicated to the legislative position prompted the sharpest exchanges between the candidates. Miller has said that if elected state representative, he would also continue serving as first selectman of Essex through the end of the current term in November. Miller said he wants to honor his commitment to the voters of Essex and noted that Connecticut has a part-time legislature. “I am a hard worker and would do anything I need to do both jobs” he said.

Peckinpaugh said serving as a state representative “is really a full-time job,” particularly with the increasing number of special sessions and pledged to “give full-time attention to the legislature whenever it is necessary.” She said Miller’s intention to hold both jobs through November is a sign that he would “conduct business as usual and take care of himself” if elected.

The two candidates will face off again Thursday in a question and answer session that is open to the public at Chester Village West, a retirement and life care community on Route 148 in Chester. The session begins at 4:30 p.m.

Congressman Joe Courtney Endorses Phil Miller

Congressman Joe Courtney and Essex First Selectman and 36th District House candidate Phil Miller

Essex First Selectman and 36th District House candidate Phil Miller received the endorsement of Congressman Joe Courtney today.

“Phil is an independent minded leader who has a real record of accomplishment that Connecticut needs right now,” Courtney said, “I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Phil in his role as First Selectman on both Essex and regional issues.   Phil has an impressive ability to build consensus and find innovative solutions to difficult challenges.”

Phil Miller, elected Essex First Selectman in 2003, has an established record passing balanced budgets and reducing the size of local government. 

The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Janet Peckinpaugh Receives Endorsements from Rell, Foley, Joslow and Nichols

Janet Peckinpaugh

Former Governor M. Jodi Rell, gubernatorial candidate Thomas Foley,  business owner Doreen Joslow and ophthalmologist Neil Nichols have endorsed Janet Peckinpaugh for State Representative in the 36th State House District Special Election taking place on Feb. 22.

Joslow made an unsuccessful bid against Peckinpaugh for the Republican nomination for the 36th Congressional District. Nichols was defeated by Eileen Daily in November’s election for the 33rd State Senate seat,

See Letters to Editor or follow links below:

Rell Endorses Janet Peckinpaugh

Foley Endorses Janet Peckinpaugh

Joslow Endorses Janet Peckinpaugh

Nichols Endorses Janet Peckinpaugh

Phil Miller Receives the Endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club CT Chapter

Phil Miller

ESSEX, CT– Essex First Selectman and 36th District House candidate Phil Miller received endorsements from the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club. 

Both organizations recognized Miller’s outspoken advocacy for protecting Connecticut’s land, air, and water.  Prior to being elected First Selectman of Essex, Miller worked to build the Bushy Hill Nature Center from a small summer camp into an environmental education resource visited by thousands area school children each year. 

“Phil Miller’s environmental ethic clearly runs deep.” said Lori Brown, CTLCV Executive Director.  “His commitment to sustainability, coupled with his success in managing municipal operations, his collaborative style, and his experience with state agencies and regional planning organizations set him up as a newcomer to watch.  We’re delighted to endorse him.”

Martin Mador, Political Co-Chair and Legislative Chair from the Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter, pointed to Miller’s knowledge and experience:

“Our decision is based on your thoughtful responses to our questionnaire, the endorsement interview, your accomplishments as four term First Selectman of Essex, and your extended record of commitment to environmental issues,” Mador said in a release. 

Phil Miller was elected Essex First Selectman in 2003. 

The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Peckinpaugh for Congress Files Amended Federal Election Commission Report

ESSEX, CT – The Peckinpaugh for Congress campaign filed an amendment to its 2010  finance report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Feb. 2.

The amended report may be viewed online on the FEC website.

To ensure that the campaign complied with all regulations regarding the federal campaign finance law, the campaign amended its federal election reports, adding additional information in subcategories, said Paul Maxwell, who was treasurer for Peckinpaugh for Congress, in which Essex resident Janet Peckinpaugh ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

Peckinpaugh currently is running in a Feb. 22 special election to represent the residents of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam in the state’s 36th House of Representatives District.
 
 “Any omission from the reports was clearly an oversight,” Peckinpaugh said. “Criticism of the filing is simply an attempt to distract voters from my opponent’s support for Governor Malloy’s intention to allow local governments to raise taxes.”

State house seat candidates to debate at Essex Town Hall, February 11

Janet Peckinpaugh

Phil Miller

Republican Janet Peckinpaugh and Democrat Phil Miller, candidates for the 36th District House seat, will hold a campaign debate at Essex Town Hall on Friday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Essex Library Association will be moderated by Library Director Richard Conway.

Peckinpaugh was the 2010 Republican candidate for the Second Congressional District, a contest she lost to incumbent Congressman Joe Courtney. Phil Miller is presently First Selectman of the Town of Essex. If he wins the state House seat, he has said that he would continue to serve as First Selectman until the end of his present term, while serving as a State Representative at the same time.

The 36th House District encompasses the towns of Essex, Deep River, Chester and Haddam. The special election for the seat will be held on February 22.

Persons wishing to submit questions to the candidates to be asked at the debate should send them by email to staff@essexlib.org or post them on the Essex Library’s Facebook page. Questions for the candidates may also be submitted in person at the library.

All questions submitted should include a name and telephone number, and be directed to both candidates. The questions will then be reviewed and selected by Library Director Conway. No questions at the debate will be permitted from the floor, nor will any questions directed to a single candidate be selected. 

Jenny Tripp of the library staff said that each candidate would have five minutes for an opening statement. This would be followed by five questions applicable to both candidates. When asked why questions pertaining only to a single candidate would not be asked, Ms. Tripp said, “We don’t want to be combative.”

Attendance at the debate is open to all, and those interested in attending should call 860-767-1560 to register, or for further information.

36th district candidates set Feb. 11 debate as Democrat files elections complaint against Republican Peckinpaugh

AREAWIDE– The candidates in the Feb. 22 36th District special election, Democrat Phil Miller and Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, have scheduled a Feb. 11 debate at the Essex Town Hall.

The agreement for a debate comes as Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo Monday filed a complaint with the federal Elections Enforcement Commission over alleged errors and incomplete information in the campaign finance reports Peckinpaugh filed for her unsuccessful challenge last year to Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Connecticut.

Miller, the four-term first selectman of Essex, and Peckinpaugh, a former television news anchorwoman, are competing in the Feb. 22 special election for the seat left vacant after former Democratic State Rep. James Spallone took a job as deputy secretary of the state. The district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.
In the complaint, DiNardo contends that Peckinpaugh failed to provide required details for $69,090 in campaign expenditures, failed to disclose details of $8,000 in unspecified reimbursements to Peckinpaugh, and failed to properly disclose information on an unpaid campaign debt of $22,359 and to whom the debt is owed. Peckinpaugh described the elections complaint as a distraction, and pledged to file an amended campaign finance report “if there is missing information or any shortcomings in the filings.”

The debate at the Essex Town Hall is set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 11. The moderator for the one-hour debate will be Richard Conroy, director of the Essex Library, which is sponsoring the event. Questions for the debate will be submitted by members of the public via the Essex Library website, and will be subject to pre-screening by the moderator. Candidates will each have two minutes to answer an anticipated five questions and two minutes for rebuttal. Candidates will also have time for an opening and closing statement.

[Please note corrected location.  The debate will take place at the Essex Town Hall not as previously stated at the Library]

Phil Miller Approved for Public Campaign Financing

Citizens Election Program Approves Special Election Grant

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman and 36th District House candidate Phil Miller was approved for a Citizens Election Program grant on Monday. 

Miller was required to raise $3,750 with at least 113 of those contributions coming from within the district.  Donors could give between $5 and $100. 

“I am honored by the outpouring of support we’ve received from citizens throughout the 36th District.  We quickly exceeded the 113 individual donors we needed,” Miller said, “The Citizens Election Program is a very important reform effort that former State Representative James Spallone had a large role in implementing.  I look forward to continuing the work he started reforming our election process.” 

Phil Miller, elected Essex First Selectman in 2003.  The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Democrats nominate Essex First Selectman Phil Miller for 36th House District special election

AREAWIDE— Democrats have nominated Essex first selectman Phil Miller to run for the 36th House District seat in the Feb. 22 special election.

Essex First Selectman Phil Miller

Miller, who has served as first selectman since 2003, was nominated in a convention held Monday night at the Ivoryton Playhouse after a brief contest with Diane Stock of Haddam. He will compete for the seat with Republican nominee Janet Peckinpaugh of Essex, a former television newscaster who ran unsuccessfully last year as the Republican for the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Connecticut. The seat was left open after former Rep. James Spallone of Essex, who was re-elected to a sixth term last November, became deputy secretary of the state.

The 15 delegates from the four district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam, were joined by about 50 Democratic town committee members and other interested Democrats as the convention was merged with a candidate forum that had been postponed due to last week’s snowstorm. Miller and Stock answered questions from delegates and town committee members for about 45 minutes. Stock, a former college instructor who served previously on the Haddam-Killingworth Region 17 Board of Education, was the unsuccessful party nominee for first selectman of Haddam in 2009.

The candidates offered a similar prescription for ending the state budget deficit, declaring they are prepared to support a mix of revenue increases and spending reductions. Miller said he would be ready to consider a “more progressive income tax,” and possible reductions in the state work force.

The candidates were also questioned on the time commitment they would devote to the position. Stock said she views the position of state representative as a “part-time plus job,” while adding that she would devote full time to the position. Miller said he would continue serving as first selectman in Essex, holding both jobs, through the end of his current term in November. “I could definitely do both of them knowing my abilities and work ethic,” he said.

The nomination was determined quickly, as the delegates from Chester and Deep River supported Miller, putting him close to the majority. As the four Essex delegates began stating their support for Miller, Stock conceded and called for a unanimous vote of the delegates. Stock, who had run as a petition candidate for first selectman in Haddam in 2007, pledged to actively support Miller in the five-week campaign.

Miller said he would work hard to win the seat, while adding harsh winter weather would limit the door-to-door campaigning he has done in Essex town elections. “I will do my best and always consider the best interests of the towns,” he said.

As the convention closed, delegates and party members were asked for contributions that would help Miller qualify for public matching funds for the campaign under the state’s Citizens Elections Program. To receive state matching funds for the short campaign, Miller and Peckinpaugh must raise at least $3,750 in small contributions from at least 118 residents of the four-town district.

Former Newscaster Janet Peckinpaugh Nominated for 36th District House Seat at Contested Republican Convention

Janet Peckinpaugh nominated for 36th District House seat

AREAWIDE— Former television anchorwoman and 2010 congressional candidate Janet Peckinpaugh of Essex won the Republican nomination for the 36th House District special election Tuesday night after a five-ballot contested convention.

Peckinpaugh, who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee last year in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Connecticut, defeated Doreen Bielot Joslow of Chester and Chet Harris of Haddam, the party’s unsuccessful nominee in the 36th District last year. Peckinpaugh secured the nomination over Joslow on an 8-7 delegate vote after four of five Haddam delegates switched their support to her on the fifth ballot.

The special election, set for Tuesday Feb. 22, was called after five-term Democratic State Rep. James Spallone of Essex accepted the position of deputy secretary of the state. Spallone won his sixth term last November over Harris on a 6,055-4,332 vote in the district that is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Harris, a member of the Region 17 Board of Education, was nominated by Haddam Republican Town Chairman Kenneth Gronbach, who noted Harris had carried Haddam over Spallone in November by more than 300 votes. Peckinpaugh was nominated by Ann Dixon of Essex, who described her as “bright, intelligent, and ready to represent us well.”

Joslow was nominated by Tom Lindner of Deep River, an officer of the Essex Savings Bank who is the longtime town treasurer. Lindner noted that Joslow is a Deep River native and small business owner. “Roots are important and she has roots,” he declared. Joslow also received a seconding speech from Christopher Morano of Essex, the former chief state’s attorney who attended Valley Regional High School with her in the 1970s.

Joslow, a former member of the Chester Board of Education, is married to Jon Joslow, son of the late David Joslow, who founded the Inn at Chester and the town industrial park on Inspiration Lane. The couple own Scofield Historic Lighting in the Ivoryton section of Essex. Joslow had formed an exploratory committee to run against Spallone last year, but later decided not to run.

The convention was deadlocked for three ballots, with Joslow receiving six votes from the Chester and Deep River delegates, Harris five votes from the Haddam delegates, and Peckinpaugh four votes from the Essex delegates. On the fourth ballot, Haddam delegate Judd Howes switched to Joslow, giving her seven votes, but leaving her one vote short of the eight delegates that would represent a majority for the nomination.

Peckinpaugh won the nomination on the fifth ballot after Gronbach and three other Haddam delegates including Harris switched to give her eight votes to seven for Joslow.

Peckinpaugh pledged to work hard in the five-week special election campaign, and not seek other elected office if she is elected as state representative. “I will not let you down, we will win this seat,” she said. Joslow pledged to actively support Peckinpaugh in the special election campaign.

Democrats will nominate a special election candidate in a convention set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Essex First Selectman Phil Miller is a candidate for the nomination, along with Diane Stock of Haddam, who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectman in Haddam in 2009.

Senator Daily in key position to address state’s 20 percent budget deficit

Senator Eileen Daily

Senator Eileen Daily, whose district includes Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam and Lyme, has been re-appointed co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Committee on Finance, Revenue and Banking. She will serve in this position over the next two years.

The committee has the responsibility of preparing the revenue side of the state budget, including imposition of all state taxes and fees. It also proposes and approves all state capital bond authorizations.  In addition, the committee has oversight responsibilities over the state’s Department of Revenue Services and the Division of Special Revenue.

In response to her reappointment the senator said, “Governor Malloy described our state’s current situation as a crossroads of crisis and opportunity, and I look forward to working with the administration and other legislative leaders to address a projected budget deficit approaching 20 percent of the state’s current expenses.”

She said, “I know everyone’s priority is – rightly – to cut spending, but we’re going to have to re-examine a host of tax credits and tax exemptions as well.”  Saying that she welcomed the responsibility “to continue my work and maintain my stewardship of state revenues,” she said that “my watchword guiding any laws pertaining to taxes and fees has always been ‘fairness.’”

Daily is now serving her tenth term as a state senator in the General Assembly. She is also vice-chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, among other committee assignments.

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman Names Martin Heft as Senior Advisor

Chester— Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, assuming the state’s number two job Wednesday, has named former Chester First Selectman Martin Heft as her senior advisor.

Heft, a Chester native, served as the town’s Democratic first selectman from 1993-2005. He served previously as town treasurer. After leaving office, Wyman, who was then state comptroller, hired Heft as her executive assistant.

Essex First Selectman Phil Miller Seeks Democratic Nomination in 36th House District Special Election

Essex First Selectman Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— Essex First Selectman Phil Miller announced Tuesday he would seek the Democratic party endorsement to run for the open 36th House District seat in a special election that is expected in March.

The seat representing the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam becomes vacant Wednesday when James Spallone, the Essex Democrat who has held the seat for the past decade, declines a new term to assume the full-time job of deputy secretary of the state. Spallone, a lawyer, had won re-election for a sixth term in November, defeating Republican Chet Harris of Haddam on a 6,055-4,332 vote.

Miller, the former director of the Bushy Hill Nature center in Ivoryton, was elected to the top job in Essex in 2003. He won a fourth term in the November 2009 town election, defeating Republican Joel Marzi on a 1,437-1,061 vote.

“I look forward to the opportunity of putting over a decade of municipal experience to work serving the people of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam,” Miller said, “With the state facing its greatest fiscal crisis in generations, we need experienced representation that will continue to protect our towns’ interests.”

Miller said he decided to run in the special election after talking last week with Spallone, State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook, and the Democratic town committee chairmen for the four district towns. Miller said if he wins election as state representative in March, he would continue serving as first selectman and hold both positions through the end of his current term in November, but not seek re-election as first selectman in the Nov. 8 Essex town election.

Miller added that if his run for state representative is unsuccessful, he would reconsider whether to run for a new term as first selectman. Endorsements for this fall’s town election will be made at party nominating caucuses in July. Governor Dannel Malloy will set a date for the special election soon after he takes office Wednesday. The special election must be held within 60 days of the vacancy, making Tuesday March 1 a likely date for the four-town vote.

Democratic and Republican nominations for the 36th District seat will be made at conventions later this month by the same party delegates that nominated Spallone and Harris at conventions held last May. Because of the short time frame, there will be no primaries for the party nominations. Candidates who are not endorsed by the conventions would be forced to run as petition candidates if they wish to remain in the race.

There are 15 Democratic delegates, five from Haddam, four from Essex, and three each from Deep River and Chester. No other candidates have announced for the Democratic nomination, though Diane Stock of Haddam is considered another potential candidate. Stock was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectmen of Haddam in 2009, losing the general election after winning the party nomination in a primary.

Miller said he believes he has the support of a majority of the 15 delegates, while adding “it’s my case to make.” Miller said he would appear at a meeting of the Haddam Democratic Town Committee tonight. The four Democratic town committees are expected to hold a joint meeting on Jan. 12 in Essex to hear presentations from Miller and any other prospective candidates.

No candidates have announced for the Republican nomination in the 36th District special election. Essex Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, who is considered likely to make a second run for the town’s top job this year, said he would defer any comment on Miller’s plans until after Miller has won the convention endorsement to become the special election nominee.

Democrat Spallone leaving 36th District House seat to become Deputy Secretary of the State

Democratic State Rep. James Spallone of Essex

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. James Spallone of Essex is leaving the 36th House District legislative seat he has held for the past decade to become the next deputy secretary of the state.

Secretary of the State-elect Denise Merrill, the House Majority Leader from Mansfield who was elected secretary of the state last month, this week announced that she had picked Spallone for the deputy position, the number two job in the secretary of the state’s office. Spallone, who has held the 36th House District seat since 2000, has co-chaired the Legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee for the past two years .

“Jamie and I have formed a strong partnership over the many years we have worked together to pass numerous laws to strengthen the integrity of our elections and open up our democratic process.  I’m thrilled to be able to continue this partnership, and I no doubt will be relying on Jamie’s intellect and experience as we set out to reform our election laws and improve services for the businesses who register with our state,” said Secretary-elect Merrill at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building to introduce Spallone as Deputy Secretary of the State.

Spallone said Wednesday Merrill offered him the deputy’s job earlier this month. Spallone said he will not be sworn in for a new two-year term when the 2011 General Assembly convenes on Jan. 5, setting up a special election in the district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. He was elected for a sixth term on Nov. 2, defeating Republican Chet Harris of Haddam on a 6,055-4,332 vote.

“I am very happy to be joining our new Secretary of the State and honored that she has chosen me to fill this key position in her administration,” said Representative Spallone.  “Clearly, the 2010 election showed us that we have more work to do to improve the way our elections are run in Connecticut.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly and local election officials throughout the state to reform our election process.  As someone who has operated my own law practice and represented small businesses, I also look forward to helping entrepreneurs in Connecticut and working with the Malloy administration to improve the business climate in our state.”

Spallone, a lawyer, was first elected to the seat in 2000, winning the Democratic nomination in a three-candidate primary. The district in 2000 included Old Saybrook and Lyme, towns that were exchanged for Haddam in the 2001 redistricting.  A Deep River native, Spallone and his wife, Alex, are parents of two young children.

The date of the special election will be set by Governor Dannel Malloy after he takes office on Jan. 5. The vote to fill the 36th District seat through the 2012 state election must be held within 60 days, with March 1, 2011 considered a likely date for the special election.

Democratic and Republican nominees for the seat will be picked by the same delegates from the four towns that nominated Spallone and Harris at the district nominating conventions last May. Because of the short time frame, state election law does not provide for a party primary in a special election. A candidate who does not receive the convention endorsement would be forced to run as a petitioning candidate.

Senator Daily expresses gratitude for recent meeting on Chester Ferry

To the editor:

I write in praise of the estimated 150 area residents present at the December 16 meeting at the Hadlyme Public Hall to consider future prospects for the Chester-Hadlyme ferry. I was struck by the civil, respectful tone at a gathering with so much potential for emotional flare-ups and reckless rhetoric.

The issue pits the continuance of an historic – even iconic – regional transportation link against the need to reconsider every single aspect of state spending in the face of a daunting projected budget deficit. The state Department of Transportation, working to trim its costs by 15 percent, included the ferry on a list of proposed cuts. So the viability of a 240-plus years old transportation asset, that generated $106,302 last fiscal year but cost $338,706, is under intense scrutiny.

With so many fresh memories of ‘Tea Party’ and ‘tax and spend’ labels bandied about during this fall’s campaigns and with so much partisan bickering now masking as ‘debate’ at the Capitol, it was uplifting to hear one speaker after another calmly and rationally make his or her case for the ferry. Those of us present learned some fascinating family history specific to Hadlyme and the ferry.

Area residents underscored the inconvenience of traveling north or south to the nearest bridges, they reasserted the ecological advantages of the local crossing, and they described the draw of the ferry as a vital part of the local economy. And they did so without making accusations, pointing fingers, or calling names. State officials reiterated the need to bridge a budget gap measured in billions of dollars while also acknowledging the residents’ strong desire to maintain the ferry operation.

It struck me that such level-headed discourse really ought to characterize all meetings of this nature and such thoughtful dialogue is the manner in which issues should always be considered. It reminded me that in my experience as a public official, this really is the only way compromise is reached and progress made.

The residents of the 33rd District routinely make me proud to represent our area in the General Assembly and last Thursday night’s meeting gave further evidence of their penchant for doing so.

Sincerely,

Eileen M. Daily
State Senator – 33rd District

Senator Daily Interested in Reassessing Connecticut “tax credits and tax exemptions”

Senator Eileen Daily

Returning recently from a seminar of state budget chairs, hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, State Senator Eileen M. Daily said, “I was particularly interested in one discussion about “a reassessment of tax credits and tax exemptions.”

Although Daily, the State Senate’s chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, declined to specify which Connecticut tax credits and tax exemptions that she was taking a look at, she appeared to hint that some of them could be cut back or even eliminated.

In further comments about the seminar, Daily said, “I’m very fortunate to have had this opportunity to compare and contrast Connecticut’s fiscal condition with that of so many other states and to trade potential remedies to the common theme: bridging the gap between the Government’s many responsibilities and government’s ability to afford and meet these responsibilities.”

She continued. “There is no cookie-cutter formula to apply across-the-board for all states; instead each state will have to consider some combination from the menu of possibilities aired this week.”

The Senator added, “Of special importance will be the growing relationship among budget committee chairs from northeastern states. We already met once with plans to meet again soon, and we are determined to emerge from this economic downturn with a strong regional economy focused on our common interests.”

Daily was careful to note that her expenses for the three-day seminar were paid for by the National Conference of State Legislatures and not the State of Connecticut.

Senator Daily was elected last month for her tenth term in the Connecticut General Assembly.  The General Assembly is scheduled to begin its next session on January 5, 2011.

Information Session on Health Care Reform at Beth Shalom

An Information Session/ Community Forum will be held at the Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek on Nov. 30 to clarify some of the confusion that exists around the recent Health Care Reform Bill, and to discuss what the implications are for individual residents.

A panel of knowledgeable experts will summarize the key provisions of the bill enacted earlier this year, as well as the Connecticut state reform plan (“SustiNet”) passed in Hartford in 2009. There will be time for questions, comments and discussion.

To RSVP or for further information, please call United Action Connecticut (UACT) at 860.882.3849 or email: uact4change@hotmail.com

 Directions to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek:

From Rt. 9, Take Exit 6 and drive 2.2 miile east on CT-148 through downtown Chester. Turn left at CT-154 (Middlesex Turnpike N) and go 0 .3 miile to the first right,King’s Highway. Turn right here, drive 0.1 mile and turn left into the CBSRZ parking lot.

Democrats carry Chester and Deep River in state races, Republican Foley carries Essex

CHESTER-DEEP RIVER-ESSEX—  The Democratic governor/lt. governor ticket of Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman carried Chester and Deep River in Tuesday’s election, but the Republican ticket of  Tom Foley and Mark Boughton led in Essex.

Foley/Boughton took Essex on a vote of 1,675 to 1,534 for Malloy/Wyman, with Connecticut Independent Party nominee Tom Marsh, the Chester first selectman, receiving 87 votes. But Democrats led for all other statewide offices in Essex, including U.S. Senate, where the vote was 1,866 for Democrat Richard Blumenthal to 1,388 for Republican Linda McMahon.

The Democratic candidates for comptroller, secretary of the state, treasurer and attorney general also carried Essex. The vote for U.S. Congress for the 2nd District was 1,902 for incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney to 605 for Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, a former television news anchorwoman who now lives in Essex.

Malloy/Wyman won Deep River on a vote of 961 to 902 for Foley/Boughton with 107 votes for Marsh. The vote in Deep River was 1,153 for Democrat Blumenthal to 794 for McMahon. Courtney led Peckinpaugh on a vote of 1,194 to 762. Democrats led for the four statewide offices.

Malloy/Wyman won Chester on a vote of 794 to 617 for Foley/Boughton. Marsh, who was elected first selectman as a Republican in 2005, received 261 votes in his hometown for one of his stronger showings in the state. Blumenthal led McMahon 1,037 to 585, with Courtney outpolling Peckinpaugh 1,081 to 593. Democrats led in Chester for the other four statewide offices.

In local races, incumbent Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook led Republican Neil Nichols of Essex in all three towns on her way to winning a tenth term in the 12-town 33rd Senate District. Daily had about 54 percent of the total vote.

Democrat Terrance Lomme of Essex led Republican Anselmo Delia of Clinton in all three towns on his way to winning election as the judge of probate for the new nine town regional probate district. Lomme had 50.8 percent of the total vote.

Democratic State Rep. James Spallone, a Deep River native now living in Essex, carried all three towns over Republican Chester Harris of Haddam to win a sixth term representing the 36 House District. The total vote, including Haddam, was 6,055 for Spallone to 4,251 for Harris, a 59 percent to 41 percent split.

Joe Courtney Wins a Bitter Sweet Re-election to Return to Congress

The Congressman circulates with well wishers at victory celebration

Congressman Joe Courtney’s re-election figures were impressive. He received 138, 657 votes (60 percent) to 88, 325 votes (40 percent) for his Republican challenger, former television anchorwoman, Janet Peckinpaugh. A third, Green Party candidate, Scott Deshefy, received 3,063 votes.

However, while winning his third election to Congress, Courtney has also lost immeasurable power, because of the loss of Democratic control of the House of Representatives. At the next session Congressman Joe Courtney will no longer be a member of a ruling Democratic majority, rather, when the new Congress convenes in January, he will be a member of a much shrunken Democratic minority.

In many ways shifting from being in the majority to the minority is like going from being a “player” to being a mere “spectator” of the proceedings. Majority members in Congress chair committees and introduce bills that are reported out to the floor and even pass. Some cynics have said that House minority members have no more legislative power than those persons seated in the visitors’ gallery.

When asked how he was going to manage in his new role as a minority Democrat in a Republican controlled body, Courtney said without further elaboration, “It is going to be a much tougher game now.”

All this may have been why Courtney’s victory celebration on election night at the Holiday Inn in Norwich was a somewhat muted affair. For one thing, no more than sixty people showed up to celebrate, and lobbyists in attendance were very few.

Congressman Joe Courtney on stage with his campaign workers

Also, Courtney’s remarks at the gathering concentrated on his personal gratitude to the many volunteers who assisted him in his campaign.  He was effusive about his love for the working people in his eastern Connecticut district, singling out the workers in the shipyards, the dairy farmers in the rural areas, and the teachers, police and other local government workers, who keep our towns running smoothly.

Missing entirely from Courtney’s remarks was even a hint of a legislative agenda for his next term. That may well have been realistic, because members of the minority rarely have a leading role in passing legislation.

Traditionally, in the U.S. House of Representative, it is the all-powerful Speaker who calls the shots. Ominously, for newly re-elected Democrat Joe Courtney, the ideological divide between him and the new Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is wide indeed.

Democrat Eileen Daily Defeats Republican Neil Nichols to Win Tenth State Senate Term

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook defeated Republican challenger Neil Nichols of Essex Tuesday to win a tenth term in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Unofficial results showed Daily defeating Nichols on a vote of  20,030 to 17,590. Colin Bennett of Westbrook, running on the Green Party line, received about 228 votes. Daily’s margin of victory was about 3,240 votes, making this her closest election since a 1998 contest with Robert Poliner of Durham, a town that is no longer in the 33rd District.

Daily awaited the results with family, friends, and supporters at her campaign headquarters in the former Verplex factory building on Westbrook Road in Essex. Nichols, a retired pilot, got his hometown results at Essex Town Hall, and then gathered with supporters at the Griswold Inn.

Daily thanked supporters for the victory. “I look forward to the very challenging times ahead,” she said. Daily carried 11 of the 12 district towns, losing to Nichols only in Haddam

Unofficial results for the district towns are CHESTER—Daily-1,015-Nichols-584, CLINTON—Daily-2,759-Nichols-2,213, COLCHESTER—Daily 3,004-Nichols-2,654, DEEP RIVER—Daily-1,114-Nichols-780, EAST HADDAM—Daily-1,963-Nichols-1,598, EAST HAMPTON—Daily-2,757-Nichols-2,540, ESSEX—Daily-1,689-Nichols-1,538, HADDAM—Daily-1,428-Nichols-1,720, OLD SAYBROOK—Daily-854-Nichols-664, PORTLAND—Daily-2,040-Nichols-1,598, and WESTBROOK—Daily-1,552-Nichols-1,202.

Democrat Lomme Wins Regional Judge of Probate Race

AREAWIDE— Democrat Terrance Lomme of Essex defeated Republican Anselmo Delia of Clinton Tuesday to become the first judge of probate elected for the nine town region.

Lomme, an Essex lawyer, won a close race with 50.8 percent of the vote, defeating Delia, a Clinton lawyer, on a vote of 13,396 to 12,971. The margin of victory in the nine towns was 425 votes.

Lomme carried five of the nine towns, including Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, and Old Saybrook. Delia carried Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth, and Westbrook.

Lomme awaited the results with family and friends at his law office on Plains Road in Essex. Delia gathered with supporters at the Harbor Seal restaurant in Westbrook.

By 9 p.m., Lomme was leading by about 480 votes, but unable to claim victory without the results from Haddam. About 25 minutes later, Lomme claimed victory after Delia’s narrow 56-vote edge in Haddam failed to offset Lomme’s edge in other towns.

Lomme expressed appreciation for the voter support. “I look forward to this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Delia, who called Lomme to concede the race, said he was disappointed by the result. “I congratulate Terry for running a very good race,” he said.

Unofficial results for the nine towns include CHESTER– Lomme 1,001- Delia–579, CLINTON—Lomme-2,129-Delia 2,802, DEEP RIVER—Lomme 1,132–Delia–745, ESSEX—Lomme 1,884-Delia-1,277, HADDAM— Lomme-1,652-Delia-1,708, KILLINGWORTH—Lomme-1,309-Delia-1,518, LYME—Lomme-592-Delia-538, OLD SAYBROOK—Lomme,2,347-Delia-2,285, and WESTBROOK—Lomme 1,263-Delia-1,421.

Polls Open Tuesday for 2010 State Election

Essex Polling at the Town Hall

CHESTER-DEEP RIVER-ESSEX— Polls will open Tuesday in Chester, Deep River, and Essex from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the 2010 state election. Polling locations are Chester Town Hall, the Deep River Public Library community room, and Essex Town Hall.

Along with the high profile contest for governor/Lt. Governor between the Democratic ticket of Daniel Malloy and Nancy Wyman and the Republican ticket of Tom Foley and Mark Boughton, voters will also elect a new state attorney general, comptroller, secretary of the state, and treasurer.

Voters in the three towns will also help pick a U.S. Senator in the contest between Democratic Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon, and a congressman from the second district of eastern Connecticut in the contest between incumbent

Deep River Polling Station

Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney and Repuiblican challenger Janet Peckenpaugh. Voters will also elect a state senator in the 33rd District contest between Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily and Republican challenger Neil Nichols, and a state representative in the 36th District contest between Democratic State Rep. James Spallone and Republican challenger Chet Harris.

Voters in the three towns will also help elect a new regional judge of probate in the contest between Democrat Terrance Lomme and Republican Anselmo Delia. Check ValleyNewsNow.com for results of area races Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Democrat Lomme and Republican Delia Compete for Regional Probate Court Judgeship

Terrance Lomme

Anselmo Delia

AREAWIDE—Essex Democrat Terrance Lomme and Clinton Republican Anselmo Delia square off Tuesday for the new nine-town regional probate court judgeship that becomes effective in January.

Both men are lawyers, Lomme for the past 30 years, Delia for the past 28 years. Lomme also served for three years as judge of probate in East Haddam before moving to Essex in 1994.

The formation of the new regional probate court, which will have an office in Old Saybrook, marks the culmination of a decade of debate over the future of the state’s probate court system. Rising costs for local probate courts in each town led the General Assembly to mandate a regionalization of probate courts in 2008. The new district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.

Delia, 55, had an easy and uncontested path to the GOP nomination. Lomme, 62, captured the party endorsement from a field of six candidates at a hotly contested nominating convention in May, and then secured the Democratic nomination by defeating Raymond Rigat, the Clinton judge of probate, on a 2,239-1,683 vote in an Aug. 10 primary.

The candidates have waged a quiet campaign, using roadside billboards and mailings to boost name recognition. Lomme has raised and spent more campaign dollars than Delia, including donating or loaning about $20,000 in personal funds for the campaign. Lomme had raised a total of $23,553 according to the Oct. 10 campaign finance filing.  Delia has raised about $13,000, including about $6,500 in personal funds. The probate court races are not covered under the state Citizens Election Fund program that provides public funding for statewide and legislative candidates.

Both candidates  pledge to work for a smooth transition toward the opening of the new regional probate court in January. Each plans to have one full-time chief clerk for the court, while retaining any or all of the current local probate clerks on a part-time basis for cases out of their towns.

Delia has pledged to implement a “roving court as the need arises,” hearing certain cases in the towns where the cases originate. Lomme said the state’s Probate Court Administration has not authorized satellite courts, though judges are allowed to bring a hearing to the client if the individual is unable to get to the main court office.

Delia, who ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary for the 33rd district state senate nomination in 1990, contends he has a broader record of community and volunteer service than Lomme, including elected positions such as Clinton board of education and planning and zoning commission, and volunteer service for the Cub Scouts and Clinton Youth and Family Services. “That is a significant difference,” he said.

Lomme maintains he has “more experience and more specific experience” in probate law. Lomme said his legal practice has always been in the Middlesex County towns that comprise the district, while noting that Delia’s practice is based in Branford. “I have practiced in all of the local courts that make up the district,” he said.

There have been no formal debates during the campaign, though Lomme said he attempted to arrange a public debate in Clinton earlier this month. The two rivals made a single joint appearance before an audience of senior citizens in Killingworth. The new regional judge of probate elected Tuesday takes office in January for a four year term ending in 2014.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Democratic Daily Faces Republican Nichols in 12-Town 33rd Senate District

AREAWIDE—  Nine-term incumbent Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook is facing an active challenge in Tuesday’s election from Republican Neil Nichols, a retired pilot from Essex.

The state’s Clean Elections Program public funding, now in its second legislative election cycle, has enabled Nichols to remain more competitive with the 18-year incumbent in campaign resources compared to previous Republican challengers. Under the campaign finance law, candidates for state senate receive an $87,000 grant after they raise at least $15,000 in small contributions from in-district donors. According to the Oct. 10 finance report, Daily has raised about $106,500 to about $104,000 for Nichols.

Daily, who co-chairs the Legislature’s key Finance, Revenue and Bonding committee, has trounced a series of Republican challengers in the large district since her first election in 1992. She defeated Republican Vince Pacileo, at the time an Essex selectman, on a vote of 30,326-17,624 in 2008. Before entering the senate, Daily served as first selectwoman of Westbrook from 1983-1989.

Nichols, a West Hartford native who has lived in Essex since 1994, is a former U.S. Air Force pilot who later worked as a pilot for Pan American airlines from 1967 to 1991. He has represented the 33rd District on the Republican State Central Committee since 2006, and also serves on the local planning commission. Nichols was the unsuccessful Republican challenger to State Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex, in the 36th House District in 2006.

The 33rd district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

While the two rivals have been cordial at a series of debates or joint appearances during the campaign, they differ sharply on many issues. Both cite improving the business climate in Connecticut and creating jobs as a priority, but diverge on the state’s fiscal situation and  how to address the prospect for more budget deficits in future years.
Nichols calls for a “top to bottom review” of all state spending, and proposes a 15 percent reduction in spending from the $16.8 billion total in the budget year that ended on June 30. He calls for repeal of the state’s annual $250 business entity tax, and contends many of the state’s smaller taxes and fees don’t generate sufficient revenue to justify continuation. “We’ve got to change the culture in the Legislature to make it more friendly toward business,” he said.
Daily maintains the state’s fiscal situation is not as dire as claimed by critics like Nichols, noting the last budget year ended in June with an unexpended balance of over $400 million. She also supports elimination of the business entity tax, but describes as “ridiculous” Nichols’ call for a 15 percent spending reduction from the 2009-2010 budget. “We have more people in need during this recession than we’ve ever had before,” she said.

Nichols said he believes the death penalty should be reserved for only the most heinous murders, but would not support a repeal of the state’s ultimate penalty. Daily had voted to repeal the death penalty during the last legislative session, and suggests new revelations about suspects determined to be innocent after the latest DNA testing “should be reason enough for anybody.”

Daily opposes Sunday liquor sales, noting “most of the package store owners I talk to are opposed to it.” Nichols said he is open to allowing Sunday sales, but also expresses concern for the possible impact smaller liquor stores. “I would have to listen to all of the arguments,” he said.

Both candidates have waged active campaigns, including mailings to voters, one television ad each, and targeted door to door campaigning. Also on the Nov. 2 ballot is Colin Bennett, running under the banner of the Green Party. Bennett, a Westbrook resident, was also the Green Party nominee in 2004, 2006, and 2008, when he received his largest share of the total vote, 1,682 votes.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Congressional Candidates Spar on Health Care at Old Lyme Debate and Other Issues

Joe Courtney

Janet Peckinpaugh

Opposing positions on the nation’s new health care reform law were a major feature at the congressional candidate’s debate in Old Lyme last evening. For her part Republican candidate Janet Peckinpaugh derided her opponent, Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, for supporting what some call “Obama care.”

“We do not need a health care law in Connecticut,” Peckinpaugh said emphatically. A major flaw in the new law, she maintained, was that it does not address tort reform.  Tort reform would limit the amounts that health care providers could be sued for in negligence cases.

Peckinpaugh’s solution, as far as the health care law is concerned, is “to repeal it, defeat it, and start all over again.” Citing as evidence that the new law is not working, Peckinpaugh pointed out that Blue Cross is now “hiking rates by 41%” in the state.

In response Courtney said, “We need the health care reform law in Connecticut.” The Congressman said that health care costs were “difficult for small businesses in the state.” A repeal of the new health care law, he said, “would be a major step backward.”  This would be true he said “for both small businesses and individuals.” In his remarks Green Party candidate G. Scott Deshefy, who also participated in the debate, said simply, “Obama care is only going to make matters worse.”

Another issue addressed by the three candidates was concerns about the environment. Green Party’s Deshefy said with emphasis, “Climate change is real, as are the noxious substances going into the air that we breathe.”
Peckinpaugh said, however, that environmental reform should not go so far that people would have to post on their front doors, how much in carbons their house was emitting. Courtney assured her that this was not being considered by House Democrats.

On the issue of the high costs of going to college, a major issue to parents in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, Peckinpaugh said that she favored a federal tax credit for all college tuitions. For his part Courtney noted that Connecticut is “a higher education state,” and he cited his work in increasing so-called Pell grants to assist in meeting higher education costs. The Green candidate Deshefy went out of way to say that, “Joe [Courtney] has done a fine job on Pell grants.”

For all the other issues, the subject of the very first question lingered over everything else. The question was the candidates’ comments on the new financial regulatory reform law. This law sought to correct the practices of investment houses on Wall Street, which contributed so much to the nation’s present difficult economic difficulties. Courtney said that he strongly supported this measure, because he wanted to be assured that what happened with the markets in 2008, “should never happen again.” He pointed out that this new law established new standards of transparency regarding the investments offered by Wall Street firms to investors, so that, specifically, “buyers should know what they are buying.”

Deshefy said that the simple solution to regulatory reform was to reenact the Glass-Stiegel Act, which required the separation of investment banks and the commercial banks, a law that was repealed during the Clinton administration. Courtney told the Green Party candidate that there simply were not enough votes in the Congress to reenact this measure.

For her part Peckinpaugh said that the new Department of Consumer affairs in the new financial regulatory law, “might not go far enough,” considering, as she put it, “the little that I know about the financial bill.”  She also said the biggest challenge in the state and nation was to create jobs, “and the way to create jobs is to limit government.”

Courtney for his part mentioned a number of areas where new jobs could be created, including “finding new business opportunities overseas for Connecticut businesses,” increasing the solar technology industry and increasing jobs at Electric Boat in Groton, which he claimed he had funded with $1 billion in federal dollars.

Prior to the Congressional debate there was a debate between local state candidates. Incumbent Eileen Daily (D-33rd) sparred with her Republican challenger Neil Nichols over the issue of the current business environment in Connecticut. Nichols stated, “Connecticut is hostile to business,” adding that the state is “losing business” and “our children are leaving the state.” Daily countered that the state, “needs to focus on retraining” and charged, “The Governor should solicit business to come to Connecticut.”

Also participating in the debate were State Representative Marilyn Giuliano (R-23rd) and her challenger Democrat Eileen Baker, who ran against Guiliano in 2008.  

State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20th) also was present but moderator Olwen Logan, co-owner of Shoreline Web News, LLC, advised the audience of around 150 that Stillman’s challenger, Daniel Docker, an EMT practitioner, had been called to an emergency and was unable to attend.

The debate was the last Congressional debate of the campaign. It was sponsored by the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

Editor’s Note:  The Congressional debate was recorded by CT9. Details of the television broadcast schedule will be published on ValleyNewsNow as soon as they are announced.

33rd Senate Rivals Daily and Nichols Debate in Clinton

CLINTON— State bonding policy sparked the sharpest differences Wednesday night as State Senator Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, and Republican challenger Neil Nichols of Essex debated the issues before an audience at Morgan High School in Clinton.

The debate, one of a handful of joint encounters between the candidates this fall, was sponsored by the Morgan Political Club, with  students posing most of the questions. About 80 voters, most of them commited supporters of each candidate, turned out to watch the debate.

Daily, who served as first selectwoman of Westbrook from 1983-1989, is seeking her tenth term in the nine-town district that stretches from Clinton to Colchester and includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Nichols is a former Pan American Airlines pilot who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2006 in the 36th House District.

Despite some sharp differences, the candidates agreed on several priorities and were cordial to each other throughout the one-hour session. Nichols contended Daily, as an 18-year incumbent, shares responsibility for the state’s fiscal problems and what he described as an “anti-business” economic climate.

Daily, who has co-chaired the Legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, maintained the fiscal crisis was eased by steps taken in the current and previous fiscal years, which include an unexpended surplus now estimated at $449 million as of June 30, 2010. “We do have a more solid base than anybody would like to have you believe,” she said.

Nichols said lax standards for bonding have left Connecticut with the highest per capita debt of any state in the nation. He called for a  “top to bottom review of all departments, commissions, agencies and programs,” followed by a 15 percent reduction in spending from the current state budget.

But it was Nichol’s comments on state bonding that prompted the sharpest exchange of the debate, as Daily asked him which bonding appropriations for local projects in the 33rd District he would have opposed.

Nichols, who maintains bonding should be focused on statewide infrastructure projects, acknowledged he “has a real problem with STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grants.” Several district towns, including Deep River, Essex, and Portland, have received STEAP grants for municipal projects in recent years.

Daily declared she was a “proud co-author” of legislation creating the STEAP grant program as a way to direct some state bonding funds to the smaller towns. “There are a lot of worthy projects,” she said, adding “at least the ones in my district.”

The candidates agreed on several issues and goals, with each pledging to seek state support for acquisition of the former Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant property in Haddam Neck and the Preserve property in Old Saybrook and Essex for protection as open space land. Both candidates expressed support for the civil unions law that paved the way for gay marriage in Connecticut. But while declaring he has no objections to gay rights, Nichols said he is a Roman Catholic who remains pro-life on the abortion issue.

Author Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Signs of the times, on a lawn near you

They’re everywhere. Or, so it seems. Remember the days when the only thing you saw on front lawns was beautiful plantings, flowers, decorative figures, and impeccably mowed grass.

But what have we now? Our lawns have become a battle ground for the November elections. First to stake her claim on the lawn scene, at least in Essex, was Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon. Clearly, there was money available for wide installation. 

Next in bloom were the lawn signs of Janet Peckinpaugh and Neil Nichols, Republican candidates for Congress and State Senate. Also, visible were letterings for Tom Foley and Mark Boughton, Republican candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  Signs for Anselmo Delia for Judge of Probate were also in view.

Where were the Democrats? In this year of Tea Party politics, were they afraid, or too ashamed, to show their public offerings? But then, finally, the lawn signs for the Democratic ticket came into full bloom.

Leading the lawn poster parade were the signs of Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily. In fact, her signs for re-election were so prevalent; you almost felt she was leading the ticket. Still absent were the signs of the Democratic Senate candidate, Richard Blumenthal? Was he running as a stealth candidate?

Then, finally, in a late season blooming, on came the Democrats in full force, and the two-party system that we have in this country had been reaffirmed.  Up went the signs for Blumenthal for Senate, Joe Courtney for Congress, Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and Terry Lomme for Judge of Probate.  

Here are some views of the poster war:

Linda leads the way

Peckinpaugh and Nichols stake a claim

Anselno Delia joins them

On come the Democrats

Finally Blumenthal appears