July 1, 2022

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.