July 2, 2022

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.