October 18, 2021

Lomme & Rigat Face Off Tuesday In Democratic Primary

Two lawyers from Clinton and Essex, each with experience as a local probate judge, face off Tuesday in a primary for the Democratic nomination for judge of probate in the new nine-town regional probate district that becomes effective in January.

Terrance Lomme of Essex won the party endorsement at the May nomninating convention, besting a field of six candidates that included Raymond Rigat of Clinton, the convention runner-up and challenger in the primary. After six ballots in which other candidates were eliminated, Lomme won the endorsement over Rigat on a 23-14 delegate vote. The new probate district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.

Lomme, 62, has been a practicing lawyer for 30 years and is the most recent past president of the Middlesex County Bar Association. A Westport native, Lomme lived in Haddam and East Haddam before moving to Essex in 1993. He was the elected judge of probate in East Haddam from 1990-1993, leaving a year before the four-year term expired when he moved from East Haddam to Essex. Lomme is married to Bette Shea Lomme, a middle school teacher in East Haddam.

Rigat, 45, has lived in Clinton since childhood. Rigat has been a lawyer since 1990, including three years as a judge advocate lawyer in the U.S. Navy. He was elected judge of probate in Clinton in 1998 and has served three terms in the position, defeating Republican challengers in 2002 and 2006. Rigat and his wife, Karen, are the parents of children ages 14 and 10.
Both candidates pledge to serve as a full-time regional judge of probate if elected, transitioning out of private practice as the new court becomes operational. The most significant differences to emerge during a quiet campaign with no formal debate have centered on which candidate has the best experience and qualifications for the position.

Rigat said his three full terms as judge of probate in Clinton, the largest town in the district, has provided him with the broadest experience. “It makes you a more closer listener,” Rigat said, contending he has “considerably more experience than Terry Lomme.” Rigat also claims extensive experience with juvenile court cases.

But Lomme maintains his additional decade as a lawyer, along with the service as a judge in East Haddam, has given him broader experience in probate law. Lomme also contends he has a greater knowledge of the towns in the new district. “I have had cases at every court in the new district and I know all of the current judges and clerks,” he said.

Lomme has received endorsements from Democratic town committees in Chester, Deep River, Lyme, Killingworth and Old Saybrook. Rigat has the endorsement of the town committee in Clinton.

Rigat said Friday he has campaigned door-to-door at about 400 homes in Killingworth, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook, while also sending three mailings to all registered Democrats in the district. Lomme said he has campaigned at numerous local events in the nine towns over the past two months, and at municipal solid waste transfer stations in Essex, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Lomme has also sent mailings, and purchased campaign space on three large roadside billboards in Deep River, Haddam, and Westbrook.

According to the campaign finance report for the period ending July 27, Lomme has raised a total of $19,519, with expenditures of about $18,900. Lomme has largely financed his own campaign through personal donations and loans, though he recently received a $500 donation from Sharon Clark of Essex.

Rigat’s finance report for the period ending July 27 was not available Friday, though a report for the period ending on July 10 showed Rigat had contributed $6,732 in personal funds for his campaign.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Republican nominee Anselmo Delia in the Nov. 2 election. Delia, a Clinton lawyer, was uncontested for the GOP nomination at the May 6 convention.

The new judge will take office in January for a four year term ending in 2014, with an annual salary of $110,000. The regional probate court will be located in Old Saybrook.