February 1, 2023

Key Points on How to Request Absentee Ballots for the State Election, Referendum

LYME/OLD LYME — On Tuesday, Nov. 8, voters in Lyme and Old Lyme will cast their ballots in not only the State Election but also the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools $57.6 million Bond Referendum for renovation and expansion of four school buildings. 

If you wish to vote by Absentee Ballot, there are some important points to understand about how you obtain your ballot. The key issue is that you must request two separate Absentee Ballots – one for the Election, and one for the Referendum.

You cannot request both Absentee Ballots on the same form,

Also, you cannot request the Referendum Ballot via the state of Connecticut’s online portal.

You should submit your applications as soon as possible to receive your ballots and then return them in time to be counted.

The last day for Town Clerks to issue Absentee Ballots is Monday, Nov. 7.  

Completed ballots must be returned no later than 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The Town Clerk of the town in which you are registered or qualified to vote is the one who will handle you ballot request(s).

You can request an Absentee Ballot for the State Election in one of three ways:

  • Online via the State of Connecticut Online Absentee Ballot Request Portal at https://oabr-sots.ct.gov/. If you have a valid Connecticut Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID number, you may use this portal to request your absentee ballot for the State Election only. The Town Clerk’s office will receive applications daily from the State, and your Absentee Ballot will be processed by the Town Clerk’s office and mailed to you.

  • By printing out an application from the state’s website at https://bit.ly/2ulgNDz and then submitting it to the Town Clerk’s office in the town where you are registered or qualified to vote.

  • By going to the Town Clerk’s office in person to request an Absentee Ballot.

You can request an Absentee Ballot for the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools $57.6 million Bond Referendum in one of two ways:

  • By printing out an application from the state’s website at https://bit.ly/2ulgNDz and then submitting it to the Town Clerk’s office in the town where you are registered or qualified to vote.
  • By going to the Town Clerk’s office in person to request an Absentee Ballot.

Lyme Town Clerk Linda Winzer helpfully explained to LymeLine why voters need two Absentee Ballots, saying, “These are two separate events occurring on the same day.” She continued, “As you will see in Section III [of the Application for Absentee Ballot], the applicant is directed to “Check only one”, either “Election” or “Referendum”, which necessitates two forms if the voter wishes to vote in both events.”

Winzer clarified, “If someone submits an Absentee Ballot application and has checked “Election” in Section III of the application, they will receive an election ballot.  

If someone submits an Absentee Ballot application and has checked “Referendum” in Section III of the application, they will receive a referendum ballot.  

If they wish to vote in both, they have to submit two forms, one with “Election” checked and one with “Referendum” checked.”  

She stressed, “ If the voter is using the State’s online portal, they will only receive an Election ballot.”

If you are voting in person on Nov. 8, the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Letter: Essex Needs Pro-Active Management

To the Editor:

Vote for hands-on, conscientious attention to town operations and future planning in Essex! Bruce Glowac, Phil Beckman and the slate of Republican candidates offer us a leadership team with exceptional management experience in the private and public sectors that is unrivaled by any other candidates.

There is always room for improvement and I would like to see some effort made to improve operations and fiscal responsibility in our local government. Our Town seems to operate on auto-pilot without many controversies or major issues. This can be a good sign that, in general, things are going well. It is at these times, however, that a great management team can make improvements and be pro-active to ensure things continue to go well in the short and long term.

Let’s not continue to operate on auto-pilot. Join me in voting for a GREAT leadership team that will ensure Essex remains a great place to live, work and play now and in the future.

Vote for Bruce Glowac and Phil Beckman and the Republican Team of candidates on November 3.


Susie Beckman

Letter: Experience, Leadership and Common Sense

To the Editor:

With over 35 years of public and private sector experience managing capital and human resources, I am excited at the opportunity to serve in elected office and drive both fiscal discipline and strategy on the Essex Board of Finance.

Our state economy, while no longer in recession, continues to be marked by sluggish growth. As the economic climate gradually improves, addressing the long-term capital needs of Essex becomes even more important. At the same time, Essex must also focus in earnest on broadening and diversifying its tax base to relieve the constant pressure faced by individual property owners.

My current experience as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Stonington involves working with a Democratic First Selectman to assist him in leading the town with an emphasis on thoughtful decision making, working cooperatively, and setting a direction with the best interest of the community as the focal point. This experience combined with my previous leadership role as a Selectman for Essex, provides the necessary foundation for navigating our challenges and charting a successful course.

It takes both an emphasis on teamwork and developing partnerships within the community that will drive positive outcomes for Essex. The Republican slate of candidates embodies this approach to governance. Lifelong resident Bruce Glowac is a candidate for First Selectman and understands the current and future needs of our town. Phil Beckman, running for Selectman, is a 24-year veteran of the United States Navy where he led complex teams responsible for developing and executing strategic policy. Republican candidates for election to other Town and Regional Boards similarly demonstrate a depth of experience that will serve our residents well.

Together, we look forward to bringing experience, leadership, and common sense to Town government. We ask for your support and vote on Election Day, November 3rd.


Vincent A. Pacileo III
Republican candidate for Board of Finance – Essex

Letter: Sen. Linares Endorses Beckman for Essex Selectman

To the Editor:

I write to offer my strongest endorsement of Phil Beckman for the Essex Board of Selectman.

Phil will demonstrate outstanding management and collaboration savvy as he, with 24 years of experience as an officer in the Navy, routinely led and managed our finest young men and women. He frequently worked on bridging the gap between the highest levels of national strategy and operations. That makes him a prime asset in a policy shaping organization such as the Board of Selectman.

Phil has lived in town almost 20 years and has two school aged children in the local school system. Most importantly, he demonstrates a willingness to offer different points of view and accept the same from others – a character trait that is a must in government. I am certain that he will provide the same level of dedication and sacrifice on the Board of Selectman as he has in his military career. Please vote on November 3rd and support Beckman for Selecman.


Art Linares
State Senator, 33rd District


Letter: Senior-Dauer and Badger Always Caring for Chester’s Common Good

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Sandy Senior-Dauer and Karin Badger for the positions of Library Board of Trustees. I know them both and respect their integrity and diligence, always caring for Chester’s common good.

Sandy Senior-Dauer is a long time active resident and has served for 16 years on the Library Board and is presently Vice Chair. She also is the VP of Chester Historical Society and a retired award winning history teacher. Sandy received the Pillar of Chester volunteer award because of all the hard work and accomplishments she has had serving our town.

Karin Badger is an Art Director and Graphic Designer working for US, UK and German publishing companies among other businesses. Her long time love of books resulted in her specializes in book design. Badger has been active member of our community and presently serves on the Board of the Robbie Collomore Series, and has volunteered for the Chester Historical Society and BRAYCE.

Libraries have always been a part of both Sandy and Karin’s lives. They both have a deep understanding and appreciation of the positive influence a Library has in a community. Both are active with Chester’s library, attending all the meetings from the present building renovation and its importance as a historic building, as well as focus groups and meetings on the current potential of North Quarter Park.

Sandy and Karin will both continue to question and challenge the current development project and future of our Library to ensure whatever the outcome, it properly reflects Chester. They are committed to listening to every resident’s opinion and they continue to reach out so every voice is heard to ensure proper representation of our resident’s wants and needs for our Library. Join me in voting for them on November 3rd.


Lori Ann Clymas



Letter: Look Past the Labels

To the Editor:

With an open seat at two of the three Selectboard positions Chester residents have an opportunity to consider candidates new to town governance and expected to have fresh ideas grounded in community commitment.  Hopefully, voters will look past national labels and do their due diligence in getting to know the candidates for who they are and what they stand for.

I have taken the time to get to know Carolyn Linn. I admit I did not know her when I served as First Selectman but I do know of the efforts she was involved in an I have taken time to learn more about her qualifications. Perhaps most important for me is her entrepreneurial experience as a respected small business owner in town. Chester is a small community that requires a lot of “hands on” creative management of the First Selectman. Running a successful small business requires the same in order to get the most value out of every dollar you bring in and provide the highest value to every dollar you charge your customers. And really, that is what the First Selectman position is all about, getting the most value out of every tax dollar spent and providing the best value to every taxpaying customer. Granted, town government is a monopoly, and it is not unusual for government officials to lose sight of the need to provide value and service. I think that is much less likely to happen however, when you have officials with experience in running a small business where their livelihood depends on personally delivering value to every customer ever day. Please take the time to get to know Carolyn Linn, if you have not already; her candidacy is worthy of your consideration.


Tom  Marsh
First Selectman, Chester (2005-2011)

Letter: Englert Thoughtful, Decent, Committed

To the Editor:

Tom Englert is one of the most thoughtful, decent, committed individuals I have ever met.  When we served on the Selectboard together he put the welfare of Chester first in every issue that came before the board. The same can be said of his tenure on both the WPCA and Zoning Board of Appeals; two boards that have had their share of controversial issues.  Party politics were nowhere to be found. Tom is the guy that listens quietly to all. He doesn’t say a lot but when he speaks; his contribution is of high value.  He is the one that takes the time to read all the material in advance of a meeting (a rarity on many boards).

With two of the three sitting Selectboard members not running Tom’s experience will be critical to the new board. Ensure Tom Englert remains on the Chester Selectboard by supporting him with your vote for Selectman. Tom is the kind of wingman every board chair wants and needs…..regardless of party.


Tom Marsh
First Selectman, Chester (2005 – 2011)

Letter: Four Generations of Blair Family Support Linn

To the Editor:

My grandfather, my father, and most recently my son (who was born last year) and I all call Chester home.  We each have unique concerns, but we all agree on one thing:  We are proud to support Carolyn Linn for the office of First Selectman in Chester.

My grandfather and father are concerned about the affordability of staying in Chester and being able to remain in their homes.  They know that Carolyn’s ability to manage budgets and look at the big picture will help to keep our taxes manageable and affordable.  My grandfather was talking about all the infrastructure improvements that were made to the town in his 22 years as Selectman, and he knows that Carolyn will be able to accomplish the current and future projects the town undertakes both responsibly and affordably.

As a young family in town, next to taxes, another one of my concerns is, “Will there still be an elementary school when my son turns five and is ready to go to Kindergarten?”  The thought of bussing him out of town for elementary school doesn’t sit very well with me.  I know that Carolyn will not let that happen.

Collectively, we believe Carolyn has the right balance of experience and compassion for Chester’s residents.  After meeting with Carolyn a few weeks ago my grandfather was very impressed.  He told me, “There is no formal training or handbook for the job of First Selectman.  Chester is lucky to have many fine men and women serving on all their boards and commissions.  I know Carolyn will work with all these individuals to make sure what she is doing is best for all of Chester’s residents.”

Please join me and my family on November 3rd and vote Carolyn Linn for First Selectman.


Robert J. Blair III
Candidate for Inland Wetlands Commission / Member of Chester RTC
Chester, CT

Letter: Needleman Exhibits a Calm Clear Headed Approach

To the Editor:

The elections are almost here and I wanted to make public my support of Norm Needleman as First Selectman in Essex.

I moved here 5+ years ago from an Essex-like town in Maine. Yarmouth town government was very conscious of being open and transparent in dealing with the public, and that openness trickled down to all the departments; police, parks, harbor master, etc. It was an easy and pleasant place to be because the town structured itself that way. We knew what to expect and we expected things to be fair and reasonable.

I am happy to have landed in Essex – but upon first arrival there were a few bumps, and not always a clear and simple path to follow when dealing with the town. Shortly afterward, Norm became the First Selectman and I have noticed the gradual change.  Norm as a leader exhibits a calm clear headed approach that has, in my experience, infected the rest of the town departments making everything seem just a little more customer (or resident) friendly.

I can name several examples, but I’ll submit just one seemingly minor but important and public example. The small park on Grove Street (which I walk or drive by daily) was very little used when I came to town, except for the occasional tennis player – hidden behind the large trees. That park has been revitalized, and I am sure at reasonable cost, and it is used almost constantly.  If I go past now, I am sure I will see children and parents on the play sets, some people picnicking (often the parents of the kids playing) almost all of the time. And the tennis courts, now that they are more open, seem to be in use a very high per centage of the time. This is a small thing – but when the goal of improving the quality of life in a town is up front – then we need to pay attention to all the small things, and help them along.

I hope Norm is elected back into office – and I hope his legacy will be, when he one day he steps aside for the next person, that he made everyone in Essex life just a little better every year he served.


Bob Ward,
Essex, CT

Letter: Sypher Proud to Support Gister, Janecek

To the Editor:

It is with deep pride that I declare my support for Lauren Gister for the position of First Selectman and Charlene Janecek for Selectman. They are a great team and I know they will represent us well for the common good of Chester.

Having served as a Selectman for the past six years, I know what the positions require, and understand the issues facing our town, now and in future. Gister and Janecek’s experience, knowledge, skills and dedication are just what Chester needs.

We are privileged to have Lauren Gister who is intelligent, knowledgeable about legal issues, and has years of experience serving Chester as a volunteer and through her legal practice. Lauren’s integrity, strength, and commitment are well proven by her 25 years of service in the Marine Corps and in the business world.

We don’t need corporate experience that focuses on profits over people. We need the qualities that Gister brings, integrity and hard work from a proven leader who cares and knows how to overcome obstacles when times are difficult. Major Gister worked with diverse groups of enlisted Marines and officers, achieving goals by listening, educating, and setting realistic objectives, and consistently following through to get things done. No politicking. No backstabbing.

Janecek has a record of 40 years of volunteer service to Chester, serving on many Boards and Commissions, as well as being the owner of The Lunch Box for many years. An undeniable asset in town knowledge and communication with the electorate.

Both Gister and Janacek have solid leadership skills that motivate people to get involved and get things done. They listen and act. I urge my fellow citizens to vote for Gister and Janecek as the most qualified team to serve our town.


Larry Sypher

Letter: Lori Ann Clymas as Region 4 Board of Ed. Representative

To the Editor:

The Region 4 Board of Education has responsibility for a $18.5 million budget and will be confronted with many issues over the next several years, not the least of which are declining enrollments and possibly another push for regionalization of the elementary schools.

The position requires a commitment of time and energy; it requires understanding the underlying details and how they fit into the larger picture; a capacity to ask searching questions and a knack for thinking outside the box when working toward solutions. The role needs individuals with the leadership to address parent, student, and taxpayer concerns in clear and effective ways. And it requires collaboration and a willingness to work across the three towns with whom we share our educational system.

That person is Lori Ann Clymas. She has a record of involvement, caring and follow-through. She has what it takes to listen and to speak while building consensus, and it’s why I fully endorse her. Please join me in voting for Lori Ann Clymas as Region 4 Board of Education representative.


Virginia E. Carmany
Chester, CT

Essex Land Trust Cross Lots Property Spruce-Up – Apr. 6

Join the Cross Lots Property Spruce-up, Saturday April 6, 9 a.m. - 12 noon

Join the Cross Lots Property Spruce-up, Saturday April 6, 9 a.m. – 12 noon

Help the Essex Land Trust spruce up its Cross Lots Preserve after the winter by picking up brush, debris and other tasks. Make this a family event!

All ages and abilities are welcome including local groups and dog enthusiasts. If you can, plan to bring the following tools: rakes, brush saws and loppers.  Be sure to wear good gloves and dress warmly. Refreshments will be served.

The spruce-up lasts from 9 am to 12 pm. Rain or shine. Meet at Cross Lots (40 West Ave., Essex) for your assignment. Park on West Ave. or at Town Hall. If you need more information please contact Al Macgregor at 860-767-0693 or abmacgreg@hotmail.com.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Endorses Linares For Connecticut State Senate

Connecticut State Senate candidate Art Linares and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last week endorsed Art Linares in his race for the 33rd District State Senate seat.

While it is rare for a sitting governor – let alone a governor of Christie’s stature – to endorse a candidate running for election to another state’s legislature, Christie said, “Our region and our country are facing critical challenges that will only be met if we elect strong leaders in state houses across our nation. Art Linares is a strong leader who is ready to meet those challenges.”

Linares was an active volunteer on the ‘Chris Christie for Governor Campaign’ in 2009 and has stayed in contact with the Governor since that time. The two recently discussed policy and Linares’s State Senate race while the Governor was in Connecticut.

“I’m honored to have Governor Christie’s support for my campaign for the 33rd state Senate district.  In observing Governor Christie on the campaign trail and in public office, I’ve learned to always speak from the heart, be honest and straightforward, and always fight for your principles. Whether you agree with his politics or not, Republicans, Democrats and Independents can admire those attributes in Governor Christie; I know I do,” said Linares.

Christie, who gave the prestigious keynote address at this year’s Republican National Convention, served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. He was sworn in as New Jersey’s 55th Governor on January 19, 2010; since then he has been a strong leader making it a priority to reduce the tax burden on residents and business, promote job growth and transparency in state government. Most recently he has demonstrated his strong leadership abilities in his tireless efforts on behalf of New Jersey residents tragically affected by Hurricane Sandy this past week.

To make a donation to support the recovery process after Hurricane Sandy, visit  www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

For more information on Linares’s State Senate campaign, visit www.artlinares.com.

33rd Senate Race Takes Sharper Turn in Final Days

AREAWIDE— The three candidate contest for the open 33rd Senate District seat has taken a sharper tone in the campaign’s final days with a mailing from Democratic candidate Jim Crawford highlighting an endorsement for Republican nominee Art Linares from the Family Institute, a conservative group that stresses social issues such as abortion and opposing rights for homosexuals.

Crawford, a former Westbrook selectman and the one-term Democratic state representative for the 35th House District, is competing with Linares, a 24-year-old businessman of Cuban heritage from Westbrook, for the seat held for the past two decades by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. The race is complicated by an active campaign waged by Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag, a civic activist from Haddam who organized opposition last year to the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that was supported by Daily.

Crawford also has the ballot line of the Working Families Party, while Linares also has the line of the Independent Party, a Waterbury-based group that supported former Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh for governor in 2010.

Both Crawford and Linares faced challenges for their party nominations in a race that fully developed after Daily announced her decision to retire on May 15. Linares was edged on a 24-22 delegate vote at the May 14 GOP nominating convention by Neil Nichols, the Essex Republican who was Daily’s opponent in 2010. But days later Nichols withdrew and endorsed Linares. Crawford faced a primary challenge from Mary Ellen Klinck, a former state commissioner on aging and longtime party activist from East Haddam. Crawford defeated Klinck by 498 votes in the Aug. 14 primary.

All three campaigns have been well funded, with Crawford raising $145,000 and Linares raising $107,000, totals that include funding grants received under the state’s Citizens Elections Program. Schlag has also raised significant funding as a third party candidate, reporting contributions totaling $13,243 on the latest campaign finance report.

In two public debates last month, the candidates stressed economic issues. Crawford cited his support for a bipartisan jobs bill last fall and called for increased support for community colleges and technical schools. Linares, who is a co-founder of the Middletown-based Green Skies solar energy company, contended tax increases supported by Crawford in the 2011 state budget plan have hampered businesses and economic recovery. Linares has also criticized Crawford’s support for an early release program for prison inmates that was initiated by the administration of Democratic governor Dannel Malloy. Schlag has stressed her independence from the two major political parties and special interests, advocating a progressive agenda that includes higher taxes on large corporations and the wealthy, along with term limits and greater transparency in government.
But a late campaign mailing from Crawford has shifted some of the focus in the race by noting the support for Linares from the conservative Family Institute group that pushes social issues, while cautioning liberal and progressive voters that supporting Schlag could help elect an “ultra-conservative Republican.”

The district-wide mailing declares that  “when right-wing extremist group the Family Institute endorses Art Linares, it should give us all pause.” The mailing says Linares solicited an endorsement from the group, declaring he is “too inexperienced to understand the impact the Family Institute’s divisive policies have on real people.” The mailing also addresses Schlag’s campaign, declaring “there is to much at stake in this election to risk your vote.”

In an interview Friday, Schlag  said she has “received a lot of backlash from Democratic Party leaders saying I’m ruining it.” Schlag said she would “not be beholden to party leaders,” adding “if that is the mentality we might as well have a perpetual vote on your tax return.” Schlag has been endorsed by the New London Day and the Norwich Bulletin, two newspapers that cover towns on the eastern edge of the 12-town district.

In an interview Thursday, Crawford praised Schlag as a “worthy opponent”, while suggesting that most of the votes she garners would be pulled from district Democrats. “I am worried about it,” he said. Linares, who did not mention social issues like abortion and homosexual rights during the debates, could not be reached late this week for comment on the Crawford mailing.

Both Crawford and Schlag said Linares is “too inexperienced” to serve in the state senate, though Crawford added that he is pleased to see Linares, a former student in his middle school social studies class “take it to the next level,” by running for public office. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

33rd State Senate Candidates Cordial in Final debate

AREAWIDE— The three candidates for the open 33rd Senate District seat noted differences but appeared cordial Wednesday in the final public debate of the campaign in the 12-town district that was held in the auditorium of Morgan High School in Clinton.

Democrat Jim Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag answered questions posed by students in the Morgan High School Political Club in the one hour session. About 80 voters turned out for the debate, including some Killingworth residents interested in a debate between the two candidates for the 35th House district seat that preceded the state senate face-off.

The 35th House District seat has been represented for the past two years by Crawford, a former Westbrook selectman. The district includes Clinton, Killingworth and most of Westbrook, but for the past decade Killingworth has been part of the Guilford-Madison-based 12th Senate District, not the 33rd.

The student questions included a one about about party affiliation, and what bothers them about their respective parties. Crawford, a former middle school teacher, said Democrats are the “party of opportunity,” while Schlag, a Haddam resident, said environmental issues, including the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap, led her to run on the Green Party line.

Linares, a 24-year-old political newcomer from Westbrook, acknowledged a disagreement he has with many national Republicans. ” I don’t believe in taking a pledge that you would never raise taxes in any circumstances,” he said, adding ” the only pledge I make is to help real people solve real problems.” But Linares stressed there is no need for new taxes in Connecticut today, criticizing Crawford for supporting the 2011 state budget that included tax increases while also pledging to work to reduce both the state income tax and taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Crawford the tax increases adopted last year were intended to address a $3.5 billion state budget shortfall that had developed in previous years. “There was no way we could cut our way out of that,” he said, adding the 2011 budget preserved state aid and grants for cities and towns. Crawford said spending cuts could cover any lingering state budget shortfall that is estimated to total less than one percent of total expenditures.

Schlag contended both Crawford and Linares would be too willing to follow political party lines at the Capitol. “There should be no such thing as “the aisle”, Schlag said, declaring she would be “your independent voice,” in the state senate.

The three candidates seeking to succeed retiring ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook had debated previously on Oct. 17 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Candidate Art Linares Endorsed by Connecticut Business and Industry Association

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) recently endorsed Art Linares for election to the state Senate in Connecticut’s 33rd District.

In endorsing Linares, CBIA president and CEO John R. Rathgeber said, “Connecticut clearly needs lawmakers who can restore business confidence in our state so that employers invest, grow and create jobs here. We believe Art Linares is committed to making Connecticut a better state in which to do business, which means more and better jobs for our residents.”

Rathgeber continued, “We need legislators in Hartford who will make the tough decisions necessary to help our economic recovery and create more job opportunities for the state’s citizens. We believe Art has the qualities to make an outstanding legislator and we urge the voters in the 33rd District to support his candidacy.”

Linares welcomed the overwhelming support of Connecticut’s largest business organization, “I thank CBIA for their endorsement of my campaign and I am proud to have the support of such an important business group who understands we must elect leaders who will promote policies that will enable our economy to grow and lead to sustainable job growth. For too long companies in Connecticut have struggled with the high cost of business, it is time we reverse the trend of higher taxes, higher energy costs and expanding regulations. As a small business owner I will do my part in the state Senate to reduce government spending, lower taxes and promote pro-job growth legislation to improve our economy.”

Art Linares, who lives in Westbrook, is seeking election to the 33rd District, which includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.
CBIA is Connecticut’s largest business organization with 10,000 member companies who is the leading voice in Connecticut that promote economic growth, a fiscally responsible state government, and a dynamic business climate. For more information, please visit www.cbia.com/newsroom.

Letter: Environmentalists

To the Editor:

The Associated Press and NBC News staff recently reported that the “relentless, weather-gone crazy type of heat that blistered the U.S. last summer is so rare that it can’t be anything but man-made global warming.” This statement is pure global warming hype gone crazy. Consider that James lovelock, the guru of global warming hysteria who predicted the death of billions of humans due to global warming, admits now that he was an alarmist and is debunking the entire cabal. Lovelock and forty-nine others from NASA have stated that the idea that human action is responsible for climate change is not credible. Lovelock went further and stated that the modern green movement has become a religion that uses guilt to gain support. I will describe the movement as out of control and a threat to our independence and economic freedom.

Environmental extremists and some media, however, continue to posit the ludicrous idea that “global warming” and its first cousin “rising sea levels” are human inspired.  Global temperatures and sea levels have been ever-changing for over twenty-one thousand years. The reasons are clear: variations of solar output, changes in the earth’s orbit and continental drift. Carbon Dioxide does not drive changes in the climate-nature does. Moreover, the deified expert on sea levels, Swedish geologist and physicist, Niles-Axel Morner , recently stated that all this jabber about rising sea levels is a “colossal scare story.” Meanwhile, there have been tens of billions of tax-payer dollars spent and over-reaching regulations enforced to combat “The Hoax.”

Rising sea level hysteria is predicated on global warming hysteria. Both are outrageous fallacies. Did you know that the environmental satellite, Envisat, shows no rising sea levels in the past four years? Yet, environmental activists along with some of our government leaders continue to use the first cousin myths to gain control through regulations, land acquisition and taxes. I wonder, do these environmentalist gone crazy, who have outstripped the reasoned environmentalist of the past, truly believe that carbon emissions interfere with the cycles of nature? It is audacious to think that some of us, including a hefty number of scientists (whose numbers are shrinking fast) believe that humans, tinier than pygmy marmosets in the scheme of things, have a twit to do with global warming and cooling or sea level rise and fall. The hubris here is mind boggling.

So what drives all the hysteria? The engine driving the bad science being foisted on us is plain and simple lust for authority and greed. Environmentalists have been gobbling-up land with regulations based on bad science and greed for years. Also consider the fact that if we get rid of fossil fuel by making it non-competitive, radical environmentalist, with their sketchy green technology, are poised to sachet in to take unprecedented  control over private property and pocket billions of more dollars. Global warming hype is a cash cow; consider Al Gore who has become wealthy beyond belief from carbon-credits. The bureaucrats get rich with power and money while the rest of us suffer from debilitating taxes and arbitrary intervention.

Make no mistake, radical environmentalist are messing around with property rights right here in Connecticut. Earlier in the year, the environmental committee brought forth the Strategic Retreat Bill (HB5128). Recognizing that the bill seriously threatened property rights, there was considerable push-back by concerned citizens. The bill was then renamed the “Rising Seas Bill.” Representative Phil Miller, vice chair of the environmental committee, admitted to the New Haven Register that in the new bill (passed late at night and after the deadline set by our constitution) was tweaked to make the language more palatable. Huh! Do these environmental extremist think that changing the code words faster than the weather changes the facts?

Enough is enough. Modern environmentalists have shot way past stewardship and it is up to the citizens of this great country to elect leaders who understand that “global warming” and “rising sea levels” are the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the human community and that private property is the most important guarantee of our Freedoms.


Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT

Past Votes the Focus of 36th District Miller Pacileo Debate

Republican candidate Vin Pacileo and Democratic candidate Representative Phil Miller at Tuesday’s debate for the state House of Representatives (Photos by Jerome Wilson)

AREAWIDE— Votes on the state budget and other issues during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions were the focus of Tuesday’s debate between the two rivals for the 36th House District seat, incumbent Democratic State Rep Phil Miller and Republican challenger Vince Pacileo.

About 40 voters turned out for the debate held in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, less than half the number that turned out in the same hall for the Oct. 17 debate between the three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat. The debate was sponsored by the Essex Library Association, with Library Director Richard Conroy posing questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters. The 36th House District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, was elected in a February 2011 special election for the seat that had been held for a decade by Democrat James Spallone of Essex. Spallone resigned weeks after winning election for a fifth term to take a job as deputy secretary of the state. Pacileo had served with Miller as the minority Republican on the Essex Board of Selectmen from 2003 to 2009. Pacileo was also the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd District in 2008.

While serving as a state representative in the past two legislative sessions, Miller cast votes on a 2011-2012 state budget that included numerous tax increases, and several other issues such as allowing sale and use of medical marijuana for certain conditions and repeal of the state’s death penalty. Pacileo made several of these votes, particularly those involving taxes and spending, a focus of criticism during the 90-minute debate.

Pacileo contended the tax increases the Democrat’s legislative majority had approved in 2011 to cover a $3.5 billion budget shortfall have hampered the economic recovery in Connecticut, and the four district towns. “Small business owners are suffering under the tax policies of this administration,” he said.

Pacileo called for reducing the state income tax and repealing the estate tax, while ending a state earned income tax credit for low paid workers that was initiated last year. He called for restoring the state tax exemption for purchases of clothing costing less than $50.

Miller defended his 2001 budget and tax votes, noting majority Democrats had not “kicked the can down the road” by adopting a state budget plan that addressed the large budget shortfall while preserving state aid and grants for cities and towns. “Our cities and towns were held harmless,” he said, adding the state aid helped limit hikes in municipal property taxes.

Miller said any remaining state budget shortfall would be covered by spending cuts, but he would not commit to supporting any possible tax reductions during the next two-year term. “Nobody likes to raise taxes but that is what governments do,” he said.

Miller also defended his votes earlier this year in favor of medical marijuana and repealing the death penalty. Pacileo called for restoring the death penalty, and suggested there should have been further medical research before allowing medical marijuana.

A question on protecting the Connecticut River led Pacileo to contend Miller had shifted positions last year on the controversial but now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that would have exchanged land near the river for interior forest land in Haddam. Pacileo said Miller was “for it before he was against it.” Miller said he had listened to initial presentations on the land swap, but opposed the deal after learning more and led an unsuccessful effort in the House to block a broader statewide land conveyance bill that included the Haddam properties.

Miller said he brings municipal government experience to the Legislature, and described Pacileo as “an ideologue,” adding “if you think the sky is falling he’s probably a better person to vote for.” Pacileo said the 36th District contest presents “a clear choice” for voters. “You are what you’re record is and we need a change of direction,” he said.

Letter: McMahon – Where is the Substance?

To the Editor:

As a longtime Republican and one-time city councilman in Meriden, I wish to voice my distaste for Linda McMahon. Where is the substance, the caliber and integrity that should exemplify a US senator?  I met her in East Lyme and asked her about Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb. McMahon shows no in-depth knowledge of this and all issues, and simply repeats vapid cliches. McMahon shows me nothing beyond an empty suit. And if you research her “entertainment” at WWF, you’ll likely be disgusted.

Connecticut should not elect someone so utterly lacking in the merits and qualities we deserve in a US senator. It seems the Republican party is blinded by her money. It’s unfortunate she beat someone 2 years ago of the high caliber of Rob Simmons, who would have made an outstanding senator.
Tom Soboleski
Essex, CT

Letter: Vote for Schlag for an Intelligent, Caring and Creative Senator

To the Editor:

Melissa Schlag is my choice and should be your choice to be State Senator, replacing retiring Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd District.

I retired as Assistant Director after a 34-year career in the Connecticut State Park system.  Eighteen months ago, and because of my background, I joined a group led by Melissa Schlag attempting to stop Senator Daily’s precedent setting, ill conceived and ultimately immoral legislation, designed to transfer land purchased as open space to benefit a single private corporation.

It was immediately apparent that Ms. Schlag was well respected by the eclectic group of citizen activists that formed the Stop the Swap group.  Her organizational skills were exceptional.  Ms. Schlag’s ability to establish a strong cohesive team, build consensus by working both sides of the political aisle in the legislature, bring over thirty conservation organizations together to oppose the legislation and to garner editorial support and individual support from across the nation is unprecedented.

Vote for Melissa Schlag if you want an intelligent, caring and creative Senator who is willing to work with all of the district’s citizens in order to make the river valley and shoreline towns of the 33rd District the best place to live in Connecticut.


Rob Smith
East Haddam

33rd Senate Candidates in Lively Debate at Valley Regional High School

Debate candidates at their podiums, (L to R) Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag; Democratic candidate, Jim Crawford; and Republican candidate, Art Linares (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

AREAWIDE— The three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat, Democrat Jim Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag, discussed an array of state issues Wednesday evening in a wide-ranging debate held at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.

The intensity of the three-way contest for the 12-town district seat, wide open with no incumbent running for the first time in two decades, was on display for debate goers as more than two dozen supporters of Crawford and Linares lined the driveway of the school off Kelsey Hill Road waving signs for the two candidates. About 130 voters watched the 90-minute debate in the school auditorium.

Crawford, 62, is a former social studies teacher and Westbrook selectman who has represented the 35th house District  (Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook) for a single term. Linares, who turns 24 on Halloween, is a Westbrook resident of Cuban heritage who is a partner in a Middletown solar energy company.  Schlag, 38, is a Haddam community activist who organized opposition to the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap last year. The candidates are competing for the seat held since 1992 by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.

The debate was sponsored by the Essex library, with Library Director Richard Conroy presenting written questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters. The candidates responded to nine questions on topics ranging from state spending and taxes to the impact of the national health care law, Obamacare, in Connecticut.

But it was a question on the state’s now repealed death penalty that generated the sharpest exchange of the evening, with Linares accusing Crawford of “turning his back on public safety,” by supporting an early release program for prison inmates that was initiated last year by the administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. Linares said the program has led to the release of several inmates who have committed murder and other violent felonies over the past summer. Linares also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in the Connecticut.

Crawford said he was “insulted by that comment because it is a lie,” maintaining the current early release program is similar to the programs in several other states and has reduced recidivism among former convicts. Schlag, who endorsed the lealization of marijuana, also supported continued early release programs for prison inmates, particularly non-violent drug offenders.

A question on the now-cancelled swap of state owned land on the Connecticut River for inland forest land that was championed by Daily as an economic development measure for the Tylerville section of Haddam also generated an exchange between the three rivals. Linares said the land swap was “an example of inside politics gone bad” that led to “a divisive waste of time” for area officials and residents. Schlag, who noted the land swap led to her increased involvement in politics, declared that “term limits” are the best solution for  long-time legislators who “hide stuff in bills at the last minute.”

Both Schlag and Linares noted that Crawford had voted in support of the land swap in the spring of 2011. But Crawford maintaioned the proposed deal had “a significant amount of momentum” last year and was headed for a vote in the legislature. Crawford said he worked to include a requirement that the two parcels be roughly equal a value, a provision that led to the cancellation of the land swap because the land near the river was appraised at a higher value.

Linares criticized Crawford for supporting numerous tax increases as part of the 2011 state budget package. He pledged to work to reduce state spending and repeal many of the tax increases implemented last year.

Crawford noted the 2011 budget was intended to address a $3.5 billion shortfall that had developed in previous years, with a current deficit estimated at about $140 million representing only a small percentage of the total budget. Crawford also noted the 2011 budget maintained state aid to cities and towns, helping to limit increases on municipal property taxes. Crawford said spending cuts could cover any current deficit while also calling for upgrading collection efforts by the state Department of Revenue Services.

Schlag, declaring “it’s expensive to be poor in Connecticut”, called for reducing the taxes that impact lower income residents, such as restoring the sales tax exemption for clothing costing less than $50, while increasing taxes on large corporations and residents with the highest incomes. Along with term limits Schlag also called for a “full-time legislature” with larger districts to reduce the number of legislators.

Wednesday’s debate is expected to be the only major public joint session for the three candidates leading up to the Nov. 6 election. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Miller Expected to Receive State Funding Grant for 36th House District Race

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller appears likely to receive the $26,850 grant available to candidates under the state’s Citizen’s Elections Program for his Nov. 6 contest with Republican nominee Vince Pacileo in the 36th house District.

The Miller campaign’s application for the grant is on the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting of the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission. Based on the campaign’s Oct. 10 finance report, Miller appears to have met the program requirement of raising at least $5,000 in contributions of $100 or less from at least 150 contributors who are residents of the 36th District towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

After a late start that followed a change in campaign treasurers, Miller’s Oct. 10 report showed contributions totalling $5,410 from mid-July through October 9. Miller reported raising $684 in a delayed July 10 filing, for total donations of $6,094. The campaign reported expenditures of $2,462, leaving a balance in hand of $3,691 as of Oct. 9.

Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, reported 18 $100 contributors, most from Essex but also including contributors from the other three district towns. He received $100 from Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, who succeeded Miller in the first selectman job, and $100 from Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, who represented the district for a decade before Miller won the seat in a February 2011 special election. Miller received smaller donations from the Democratic first selectmen of two district towns, including $25 from Chester First Selectman Edmund Meehan and $10 from Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith.

Pacileo, a former Essex selectman, was approved for the Citizen’s Election Program grant in mid-August after reporting donations of $6,055 in his July 10 finance report. Pacileo reported no additional individual contributions in his Oct. 10 filing, showing total funding, including the state grant, of $33,014. Pacileo reported campaign expenditures of $6,183, leaving a balance in hand of $26,427 as of Oct. 9.

Letter: Clear Choice for Fiscal Conservatives

To the Editor:

The 33rd State Senate race among Republican, Art Linares, Democratic Jim Crawford and Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag, presents clear choices for conservative and progressive voters. Linares, founder of a green energy company, is a strong fiscal conservative.  He is critical of Governor Malloy’s tax and spending increases supported by Mr. Crawford.  Crawford was a supporter of the Haddam Land swap.  Schlag led the successful fight against the land swap.  She supports raising taxes of the wealthy.  Linares is the clear choice for the fiscal conservatives.  Schlag is the clear choice for progressives.  Crawford is the choice for neither.


Mel Seifert
Chester, CT

Letter: Vin Pacileo Offers Both Common Sense and Real Opportunity

To the Editor:

Vin Pacileo is running for State Representative to give voters a real choice in the 36th House District. Vin has served on all major community boards – Selectmen, Finance, and Education – and understands the needs of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. His experiences in the private sector, budget management and hands-on government administration are sorely needed in Hartford.  Vin understands that Connecticut needs a business plan to control spending, diminish taxation, shrink the size and cost of government, and to manage our debt responsibly.

Right now in Connecticut, the Democratic Party controls the Governor’s office, all of our constitutional offices, and the majority of both the House and Senate. This one-party rule has given us the largest tax increase in state history, uncontrolled government spending and debt, a 9% unemployment rate, the early release of violent criminals from prison, the repeal of the death penalty, and a billion dollar bus way from New Britain to Hartford.

Vin Pacileo’s candidacy for State Representative offers a real opportunity and common sense alternative for our region and our state. I hope that you will put his honesty, integrity, and skills to work for you as your State Representative.


Rep. Marilyn  Giuliano (R-23)
Old Saybrook, CT


Connecticut Environmental Coalition Honors Rep. Phil Miller For Protecting Children

The Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut has honored state Representative Philip J. Miller (D-36th Dist.) for his outstanding leadership and advocacy in protecting children from harmful chemicals.

Rep. Miller, who is vice chairman of the legislature’s Environment Committee, received the prestigious award at the coalition’s annual meeting Thursday, Sept. 27, in Farmington.

“Phil Miller has been a tireless champion for protecting the public’s health,” said Anne Hulick, the coalition’s clean water action coordinator.

“With the overwhelming body of scientific research linking exposure to toxic chemicals in every day products with the rising incidence of many serious diseases, particularly in children, Rep. Miller’s leadership in supporting policies that identify chemicals of concern and reduce our exposure is particularly important. The coalition is proud to honor him for this work,” Hulick said.

Rep. Miller said he was honored to receive the award. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by this excellent organization,” he said. “I believe strongly in eliminating toxic and harmful chemicals from products that we use on a daily basis, which are detrimental to our overall health and especially the health of our children.”

The coalition is a diverse entity of 58 member groups and thousands of concerned citizens across the state united in their goal to raise awareness of the health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products and to press for more health protective chemical policy at the state and federal level.

Member groups include the CT Public Health Association, CT Nurses Association, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, labor groups, school nurses, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Planned Parenthood, CT Council on Occupational Safety and Health, and the Inter-religious Eco-justice Network, among others.

Earlier this year, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters awarded Rep. Miller a 100 percent rating for his support and advocacy of environmental initiatives in their 2011 Environmental Scorecard.

Rep. Miller represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

Meet Your Candidates at the Great Debates

In an effort to help voters get to know the candidates for the upcoming elections, The Essex Library is hosting two debates that will be held at the Valley Regional High School Auditorium.

The first debate, Wednesday October 17 at 7 p.m., will feature the candidates for State Senator in the 33rd District; Art Linares (R), Jim Crawford (L), and Melissa Schlag (Green).

The second debate, slated for 7 PM on Tuesday October 23, will feature the candidates for the State House Representative for the 36th district, incumbent Phillip Miller (D) and Vince Pacileo (R).

Both of the debates will be moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy.

Voters are urged to send their questions for the candidates to the Essex Library, either via email at staff@essexlib.org, via US mail to the attention of Richard Conroy, Director, Essex Library, 33 West Avenue, Essex 06426, or in person at the Essex Library. Questions for the candidates will be vetted to insure that they are submitted by residents of the districts involved, and all questions must include the questioner’s name, address and contact phone number, for verification.

The Essex Library is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Rep. Phil Miller Responds to Pacileo Unemployment Statement

State Representative Phil Miller

The following is a response by State Representative Phil Miller to the recent statement issued by Mr. Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th House District, concerning August unemployment figures, published in ValleyNewsNow.com on September 25:

When Governor Dannel Malloy was elected just two years ago Connecticut was struggling to climb out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

With the Dow Jones on the ropes and the auto industry on the brink, Connecticut was facing one of its own greatest challenges – reversing two decades of net job losses. For each of the 20 previous years, our state had lost more jobs than it created.
Reversing that trend has been no small task but the foundation for growth has been carefully laid.

Digging out of the recession, creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate continues to be a challenge, but it is one that we are overcoming because of the policies the governor has put in place with my support and the support of other Democrats.
On the national level, the stock market has doubled in just a few short years, corporate profits are at an all time high and the auto industry is back. Here in Connecticut, the First Five program alone will create or retain more than 15,000 jobs and encourage 1.3 billion in private investment in our state. And the state’s finances are in far better shape than they were two years ago.

The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high, but reversing two decades of failed leadership and negative job creation regrettably will take time and patience.

That we have these challenges is what motivates me to seek new opportunities for Connecticut and to take action to set up future commerce and industry, which will sustain our state and our fine communities.

We have closed a record deficit through cuts, concessions and raising tax revenues, mostly on those who earn the most. We have combined and reduced agencies, and our labor force is leaner. All of us have friends and neighbors in just about all walks of life who are working harder and more often, just to keep up.

When I joined the legislature, I followed Congressman Joe Courtney’s guidance and I sought and received an appointment to serve on the Human Services Committee as one of my assignments, so that I’d be able to help link state efforts with our nonprofit sector, legions of volunteers in service to others. This way, we keep our most vulnerable people from harm.

We have boldly invested in growth industries like biomedical sciences. Our UConn and Jackson Labs initiatives are moving with Yale and Wesleyan.

Just recently I was speaking with eighth graders and we were hoping that we could someday cure diseases like lupus, which affects 17,000 people right here in Connecticut. And why not do this kind of thing here, where we are worthy of such efforts?
There will always be those who are too timid to reach to position ourselves well for our future. They’d have government with little role in making opportunity happen.

(Rep. Phil Miller represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam)

Vin Pacileo Releases Statement on August Unemployment Figures

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th House District, released the following statement on the biggest jump in Connecticut’s unemployment rate in 36 years:

“The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics just released Connecticut employment data for the month of August, which showed that the state lost 6,800 jobs. This caused the unemployment rate to shoot up from 8.5 percent to 9 percent – the single largest jump since 1976.”

“These numbers are a sobering reminder that the policies initiated by Governor Malloy and supported by Phil Miller have unfairly burdened individuals, families, seniors, and business owners. It is puzzling that our Governor continues to express open skepticism on the accuracy of these statistics, when it is obvious that the pace of economic recovery is weak at best.”

“Adding to the state’s woes, last week the University of Connecticut’s quarterly economic journal reported that the Connecticut economy will not recover all of the jobs lost during the recession until the year 2018. It is clear that the policies coming out of Hartford are not working.”

“State government continues to spend more than it earns and borrows more than it can pay back. We need to stop this irresponsible growth and expansion of state government. As your State Representative, I will roll back the income, sales, and business tax increases that were passed last year – including restoration of the full $500 property tax credit for each homeowner – while thoughtfully reducing the budget. If we work together, we can restore common sense principles to the legislature.”

The 36th State House District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. Learn more about Vin’s plan to return common sense leadership to Hartford at www.vinpacileo.com.

Linares Renews Call to End “Early Release Program”

Art Linares, 33rd District State Senate Candidate

Westbrook, CT – – 33rd District Senate Republican candidate Art Linares has renewed his call to end the states early release program.

Linares made his comments in an early morning speech on Saturday after police reported that Joseph Mabery, who had 28 prior convictions and was part of the early release program, was arrested for lewd behavior on a public bus in front of a 14 year old girl in the Middletown area. In a statement later released by his campaign, Linares called upon his opponent Representative Jim Crawford, for the third time, to abandon his support of the program and join his call for Governor Malloy to halt the program. Linares continued by saying that since the program began over 700 early release criminals have committed a crime and have been returned to jail.

“How can Governor Malloy and Jim Crawford still support this program after 700 crimes? What is the number that will make them give up on this failed policy? Will it be 1000, 2000, 5000. How many murders will it take three four five what is the number that will make them start protecting the citizens.”

At the end, Linares said, “The incarceration of prisoners should be left up to Judges and prosecutors and not a bunch of Politicians in Hartford.”

Letters: Candidates Should Debate!

To The Editor:

Vin Pacileo of Essex is challenging incumbent Phil Miller of Essex for the State Representative seat that represents Essex, Deep River, Chester and Haddam (the 36th District).  We need these candidates to face each other in a debate and discuss how they intend to overcome the challenges facing our state.

We must elect a representative that truly represents our local interests.   A great way to make an educated decision about who can best represent us is by contrasting and comparing candidate responses during a debate.


Susie Beckman
Ivoryton, CT



Vin Pacileo Receives Independent Party Endorsement

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District, today announced he has received the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut, the third largest political party in the state.

“I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut,” Pacileo said. “The Independent Party is dedicated to ensuring open, honest government, with realistic objectives. My campaign is equally committed to these goals. Voters look to their elected leaders for assurance that the government is operating with integrity and I will work to restore a culture of accountability and transparency in Hartford.”

“We are pleased to endorse Vin Pacileo for State Representative in the 36th District,” said Michael Telesca, State Chairman of the Independent Party of Connecticut. “I want to be clear that the Independent Party is not simply a rubber stamp for the Republican Party. As our name implies, we are independent. Vin is a worthy candidate for office in the eyes of Independent voters because his principled and evenhanded approach to governance are qualities necessary to solve the significant problems affecting our state.”

Pacileo continued, “The Independent Party endorsement of our campaign demonstrates the broad appeal of our message among independent-minded voters who want common sense leadership on the issues that affect our communities. My plan is to roll back the 2011 increases in income, sales, and business taxes supported by my opponent. In addition, I will work to restore the full $500 property tax credit for homeowners. These actions, combined with thoughtful budgetary reductions, will bring a halt to the culture of uncontrolled spending that exists in Hartford.”

The 36th Assembly District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.


Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller Files Delayed Campaign Finance Report

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller has filed a campaign finance report that had been due with the State Elections Enforcement Commission on July 10. The report, received by the commission on Sept. 5, shows Miller had raised $684 for a 2012 re-election campaign as of June 30, the end of the reporting period for the July 10 report.

Miller’s filing was delayed after his campaign treasurer and deputy treasurer, Essex residents Carla Feroni and Claire Tiernan respectively, resigned from the positions at the end of June. They were replaced in July by Fred Vollono, the Democratic town chairman in Essex who continues to serve as campaign treasurer.

The former first selectman of Essex from 2003 to 2011, Miller was elected to represent the four-town 36th House Disrtrict in a February 2011 special election. The $100 contributors to Miller include Nancy Fischbach and Carl Kaufman of Deep River, Janice Atkeson of Essex, and Matthew Gianquinto of Hartford, a registered lobbyist with the Judith Blei Government Relations firm of Hartford.

Miller faces a Nov. 6 election challenge from Republican nominee Vincent Pacileo of Essex. Pacileo served as the Republican minority member of the Essex Board of Selectmen during the  first six years of Miller’s tenure in the top job, from 2003 to 2009. The 36th House District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Pacileo, who emerged as a candidate at the May 16 GOP district nominating convention, reported campaign contributions totalling $3,575 in his July 10 filing. On August 1, Pacileo announced he had qualified for a $26,850 funding grant under the state’s Citizens Election Program by raising at least $5,000 in contributions of between $5 to $100 from at least 150 contributors living in the four district towns.

The deadline for candidates to qualify for a funding grant from the Citizens Elections Program is Sept. 27. The next campaign finance report for 2012 legislative candidates is due with the state commission on October 10, covering contributions received in the period from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Letter: Despite Previously Enjoying Klinck’s Support, Daily Endorses Crawford

To the Editor:

Wow!  What a surprise and disappointment.  I just received a promotional piece for Jim Crawford—candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat.  While I am sure Mr. Crawford is a worthy candidate, as is his opponent Mary Ellen Klinck, I was shocked to see he is heavily endorsed by retiring Senator Eileen Daily.

Twenty years ago Mary Ellen Klinck worked tirelessly to help Ms. Daily get elected to her first term as State Senator.  Over the years, Mary Ellen donated time, money, her years of experience with the Democratic Party, and even her home to host fundraisers—all to benefit Ms. Daily.

I would have hoped Ms. Daily to be a better person.  For her to turn her back on a loyal, hard-working friend is discouraging and wrong.  The better solution would have been for Ms. Daily to simply wish both candidates good luck.


Jim Johnson
Moodus, CT  

Letters: Consider Voting for Jim Crawford

To the Editor:

With Senator Eileen Daily retiring at the end of her term, Democrats have the opportunity to choose a candidate in the upcoming primary. I ask that Democrats consider voting for Jim Crawford who earned the party’s endorsement in May.

I first met Jim as a student in his classroom at the Westbrook Middle School over 20 years ago. I called him Mr. Crawford back then. He inspired us to get involved in our community through his passionate love of civics and democracy. It’s no surprise that a number of his students went on to public policy careers on both sides of the political aisle.

Jim also ran his family business, the Maples Motel, for more than two decades in Westbrook. He understands the challenges small business owners face in this economy, having sustained the business through good times and bad.

Recently Jim became more involved in local government, serving as a Selectman in Westbrook and now as a State Representative. He understands the complex legislative process and is often called upon by his colleagues for his experience as both an educator and small business owner.

Please join me in supporting the party endorsed candidate for the State Senate, Jim Crawford, in the primary on August 14th.


Lon Seidman
33rd District Democratic State Central Committeeman

Jim Crawford is Approved for Public Financing

Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District

WESTBROOK — Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District, announced today that his campaign has received final approval for public financing under Connecticut’s Citizens’ Elections Program—the nation’s leading clean elections initiative.

Crawford’s campaign had successfully raised the necessary $15,000 in donations of $100 or less from more than 300 local donors over two weeks ago, but waited until its application received final approval late last week before making an announcement.

“I am delighted to be participating in public campaign financing, and to have qualified through the support of hundreds of small local donors. Now I can focus entirely on talking to voters about the issues that matter most—growing our economy again, and creating the jobs that so many people need,” said Crawford.

He continued, “The Citizen’s Elections Program has successfully removed the influence of big corporate money on state politics in Connecticut, and more candidates are now running for office than ever before. Compared to what is happening in other states in the aftermath of Citizens United, Connecticut is leading the country by example, showing how clean campaigns can be waged and won. Every Connecticut resident, of all parties, should be proud of this system.”

Jim Crawford, currently serving his first term as a State Representative, is a native of the 33rd Senatorial District. He served as an officer in the US Army after college, then began a 37-year teaching career in the Westbrook Public Schools. During that time, Jim also owned and operated a small business, the Maples Motel, with his wife Elaine. They have two grown children.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Letters: I’m for Crawford

To the Editor:
Tuesday, August 14th is Primary Day in Connecticut.  I serve four of the twelve towns within the 33rd Senatorial District, Haddam, Chester, Deep River, and Essex.  Democrats in all these twelve towns will choose a State Senate candidate this month for the November election.  I’m supporting State Representative Jim Crawford.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and business owner who in just his first House term has served with distinction on several committees, including Energy and Transportation.  He worked to make successful clean energy initiatives a reality, and he helped sustain the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry.  He helped work toward common ground on a very difficult education bill which may have otherwise disrupted the progress of our schools.
Jim Crawford is humble, and his style is to prepare and build consensus by listening and finding common interests.  He will use sound judgement with his skills and knowledge in the State Senate.  He is ready to serve.
I urge 33rd District Democrats to vote for Jim Crawford on Tuesday, August 14th at your regular town polling place.  Thank you.
Philip Miller, Ivoryton
Philip Miller represents the 36th District in the House of Representatives

Vin Pacileo Qualifies for Public Financing

Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District, today announced that his campaign submitted the required documents to qualify for funding under the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program.

“This is a great accomplishment for our campaign. My thanks to the people of the 36th District for their support and enthusiasm, which has allowed us to meet the public financing requirements,” Pacileo said. “Our campaign received contributions from 191 individuals for a total of $6,050. We are proud that 93 percent of the contributors and dollars came from individuals who reside in the 36th District.”

Vin is currently the Director of Administrative Services for the Town of Stonington, Connecticut where he leads the labor relations, human resources and information technology organizations. In addition, he served for three terms on the Board of Selectman in Essex and prior to that service, was elected to the Essex Board of Finance and Essex Elementary School Board of Education. He is an active member of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, serving as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus organization.

“Now that our campaign has qualified for public financing, we can continue focusing our energy on engaging the residents of the 36th District,” Pacileo said. “People remain frustrated with the State’s poor economy, higher taxes, and out of control spending. They want a return to common sense leadership that creates an environment of opportunity for individuals, families, and business owners.”

The 36th Assembly District is made up of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Republican Vince Pacileo Raises $3,575 for the 36th District Race

Republican candidate Vince Pacileo

AREAWIDE— Republican candidate Vince Pacileo has raised $3,575 for this fall’s 36th House District race, while a change in campaign treasurers has led to a delay in the campaign finance filing for incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller.

Pacileo, a former Essex selectman, had raised $3,575 as of June 30, according to the filing due with the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission on July 10. Pacileo was nominated by Republicans at a May 16 convention to run in the district that includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, was nominated by district Democrats at a May 22 convention to seek a full term in the seat he won in a February 2011 special election.

The treasurer and deputy treasurer of the Miller For The 36th election committee, Carla Feroni and Claire Tiernan of Essex, resigned at the end of June. Essex Democratic Town Chairman Fred Vollono was listed as the new campaign treasurer in a document received by the CEEC on July 16.

But Miller’s campaign had not filed a report listing totals and contributors with the CEEC as of Tuesday. Miller had raised and spent more than $21,000 in his midwinter 2011 special election contest against Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, the former television news anchorwoman who was the GOP nominee in the special election.

Pacileo, who was the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd District in 2008, reported dozens of small contributions received between May 16 and June 30, including about 15 $100 donations. The $100 donors to Pacileo include George and Sarah Mayer of Essex, Craig and Pamela Salonia of Haddam, Colin and Scott McCoid of Middletown, and Mollie and Kathleen Reubert of Miami, Florida, with each contributing $100. Pacileo reported no expenditures, leaving a balance of $3,575 in hand as of July 1.

Democrat Duane Gates Wins Region 4 School Board Seat in Only Contested Local Race

DEEP RIVER— Incumbent Democrat Duane Gates won a second term on the Region 4 Board of Education Tuesday in the only contested race on the town election ballot. Gates defeated Republican Lauri Wichtowski on a 480-365 vote.

Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith received 746 votes as he ran unopposed for a record 12th term in the town’s top job. Smith, who also ran unopposed in 2009, faced his last election challenge in 2007, defeating John Kennedy running on the Deep River Independent Party line. Town Republicans have not run a candidate for first selectman since 2005.

There was no contest for the other two seats on the board of selectmen, but the make-up of the board will change when the new terms begin on Nov. 22. Democrat Arthur Thompson, the former tax collector who replaced long-time Selectman Richard Daniels as Smith’s running-mate in 2009, did not seek a new term.

Angus McDonald Jr. won the Democratic nomination for selectman at the July nominating caucus, defeating former Selectman Russell Marth, who had served a single term on the board after running with Kennedy in 2007. Marth later became a member of the Deep River Democratic Town Committee. McDonald received 488 votes Tuesday. Republican Selectman David Oliveria was elected to a second term with 359 votes.

Two incumbents elected to town jobs in 2009, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, won second terms after running unopposed. Republican Town Clerk Amy Winchell, who won the then open position by a two-vote margin in 2009, received 689 votes. Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani was elected to a second term with 725 votes.

Democrats did not nominate candidates for board of finance because the party already holds four seats on the board. Incumbent Republican John Bauer, the board’s chairman, was re-elected with 639 votes. New Republican candidate William Ballsieper was elected with 611 votes.

Democrat Edmund Meehan Elected First Selectman by a Wide Margin, Democrat Larry Sypher and Republican Tom Englert Re-elected

CHESTER— The town will have a new first selectman serving with two returning selectmen as Democrat Edmund Meehan won the top job by a wide margin in Tuesday’s election.

Meehan, who currently works as the town planner for Newington, received 706 votes, defeating Chester Common Ground Party candidate Andrew Landsman with 180 votes. Incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher won a second term with 498 votes. Incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert won a second term with 317 votes. Common Ground candidate Glen Reyer has 115 votes.

Englert has been serving as interim first selectman since August, when former three-term Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh left to become town manager in Windsor, Vt.

Meehan said he was pleased with the outcome of the election, particularly with Sypher and Englert winning new terms. “Having two incumbent selectmen coming back to the board is a great help to me,” he said.

Meehan said he will discuss his departure date with Newington officials this week, and hopes to use accumulated vacation and sick days to begin working full-time in Chester soon after the Thanksgiving holiday. “I’m looking forward to this new adventure in life,” he said. The new terms for board of selectmen begin on Nov. 22.

Reyer, a founder of the Common Ground Party, said the group was pleased to have given “Chester voters a choice and to ensure that we have a contest that is truly decided by the voters.” Reyer said the Chester Common Ground Party would continue, noting the party had achieved ballot status for all contested positions in future town elections.

In a major upset in the election, the longtime planning and zoning commission chairman, Democrat Michael Joplin, was defeated for a two-year vacancy term by Republican Doreen Joslow. Joplin had 413 votes, while Joslow polled 488 votes, including 279 on the Republican line and 157 on the Common Ground line. Joplin has chaired the commission for nearly a decade.

Democrats won two seats on the board of finance, with incumbent Virginia Carmany receiving 487 votes and Robert Gorman 494 votes. Reyer had 269 votes running on the Republican line, with 292 votes for Republican Charles Park and 205 votes for Common Ground candidate Susan Wright. Democrat Lori Ann Clymas was elected board of finance alternate with 558 votes to 268 votes for Common Ground candidate Richard Nygard.

Incumbent Democrat Elaine Fitzgibbons won a second term on the Region 4 Board of Education, with 603 votes to 252 votes for Common Ground candidate Michael Hotkowski.

Democrats David Fitzgibbons and Laurie Rubinow were elected to the Chester Board of Education, with 529 and 481 votes respectively. Also elected was incumbent Wendy King with 446 votes, 292 on the Republican line and 154 on the Common Ground line. Lisa Tollefson, running on the Republican and Common Ground lines, had 331 votes. Incumbent Nicole Sypher was elected for a two-year vacancy term on the local school board, with 598 votes to 223 votes for Common Ground candidate James Gordon.

Elected for full terms on the planning and zoning commission were incumbent Democrats Peter Kehayias with 577 votes, Jon Lavy with 613 votes, and Sally Murray with 506 votes. Murray also has 193 votes on the Common Ground line. Republican and Common Ground endorsed candidate Mel Seifert has 436 votes. Democrat Henry Krempel was elected for a full term as planning and zoning commission alternate with 528 votes to 295 votes for Common Ground candidate Patricia Bisacky. Democrat Sarah Jensen was unopposed for a four-year vacancy on the commission.

Democrats Margaret Carter-Ward and Edith Prisloe were elected library trustees, with 617 and 627 votes respectively. Common Ground candidate Mathew Sanders had 311 votes.

Other uncontested candidates include Incumbent Democrats Carol Horner and Mark Borton, and Common Ground candidate Al Bisacky ,for zoning board of appeals, Common Ground candidate Lisa Tollsfson was elected ZBA alternate. Democrats Sally Sanders and Kim Senay, along with Republican Kris Seifert and Bisacky were uncontested for inland-wetlands commission. Democrat James Pease was uncontested for water pollution control authority. Republican Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, was uncontested for board of assessmen5t appeals.

Democrat Norman Needleman Elected First Selectman with Democrat Stacia Libby and Republican Joel Marzi Elected to Board

Essex Election Moderator Ted Bliss reads the election results to the crowd in Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman was elected first selectman Tuesday, defeating Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian by 399 votes. The result was 1,344 votes for Needleman to 945 votes for MacMillian.

Needleman’s Democratic running-mate, Stacia Libby, was elected to the board with 1,135 votes. Republican Selectman Joel  Marzi was re-elected to a second term with 1,030 votes. A total of 2,289 of the town’s 4,530 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday for a turnout of just over 50 percent. Needleman, a selectman since 2003, succeeds four-term Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller to continue eight years of Democratic control of town hall.

The Essex winning team, Democrats First Selectman Norman Needleman and Selectman Stacia Rice-Libby at Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

Needleman and MacMillian shook hands after the result was announced before a crowd in the auditorium of town hall, but MacMillian and his wife, Jerri, then quickly left the building. MacMillian declined to comment on the result.

Needleman said he was pleased with the outcome. “It was a good race,” he said, adding “now is the time to move forward and work for the interest of the town as a group.” The new board of selectmen takes office for the 2011-2012 term on Nov. 16.

Marzi, who lost the 2009 first selectman race to Miller by 376 votes, said MacMillian was “a great running-mate,” adding that both he and MacMillian “want the board to work together and that is exactly what we’re going to do.” In the only other contested race on the ballot, Republican John Ackerman outpolled Democrat Richard Helmecki by 31 votes, 1,098 to 1,067, to win a seat on the board of assessment appeals. Town Democrats had cross-endorsed incumbent Republicans Keith Crehan and Jeffrey Woods for new terms on the board of finance, while town Republicans had cross-endorsed incumbent Democrat Chris Riley for a new term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

All three candidates for the Essex Board of Education will be seated on the board. Republican Adam Conrad received the highest number of votes for a two-year vacancy term, 1,486 votes, with Republican Judie McCann receiving 1,235 votes and 978 votes for Democrat Loretta McCluskey.

State Senator Eileen Daily congratulates Norman Needleman on his victory as First Selectman in Essex Town Hall (Photo Jerome Wilson)

Early Birds go to the Polls in Chester and Essex

Even though the polls in Chester and Essex had been open only a couple of hours, the candidates and their supporters were at their respective polling places in force.

In Chester, Democratic candidate for First Selectman Ed Meehan posted himself across from the polls in the Chester Town Hall parking lot beneath a Democratic Party banner. Meehan was joined by Mike Meehan, the candidate’s brother, who came down from Massachusetts to lend a hand, and Peg Meehan, who identified herself as Meehan’s Campaign Manager (all pictured in photo).

The Meehans in Chester come out in force

Down in the Essex Town Hall parking lot, a respectful 75 feet from the actual polls, were the Republican Essex Town Chairman Ed Cook; Republican candidate for First Selectman Bruce MacMillian; Democratic candidate for First Selectman Norman Needleman; Essex Board of Education candidate Adam Conroy; Board of Education candidate Loretta McCluskey; and Democratic candidate for Selectman Stacia Rice-Libby (all pictured in photo below). Missing but not forgotten was Republican candidate for Selectman Joel Marzi.

The gangs all here at the Essex Town Hall parking lot

Asked for an Election Day comment, Republican First Selectman candidate Bruce MacMilian limited himself to saying, “It’s a beautiful day.” A bit more loquacious, Democratic candidate for First Selectman Norman Needleman said, “We’ll all work together for the best interests of the town.”

The Essex Board of Selectman is a three person body, and there are four candidates running, two from each party. Therefore, this guarantees that there will be two winners from one party and one winner from the other. Which party comes out on top, we shall not know until the results are in.

As for Deep River, First Selectman Richard Smith is running unopposed.

Needleman Charges that his Opponent Would Cut Funding for Town Libraries and Meals on Wheels. “Totally false,” MacMillian says.

Democratic First Selectman candidate Norman Needleman has leveled three charges in a recent campaign mailing against his Republican opponent, Bruce MacMillian.  Each of the charges, MacMillian counters, “Is  totally false.”

The three charges made by Needleman in his recent mailing are that MacMillian:

  1. “would cut funding to 17 non-profits, among them Meals on Wheels,”
  2.  “proposes cutting town support to the Essex and Ivoryton libraries,”
  3. “proposes the creation of a ‘professional police force’ – a plan that will dramatically increase the size and cost of town government.”

In response, MacMillian told ValleyNewsNow in a telephone interview it is, “Totally false,” that he would cut funding of Meals on Wheels and would not continue town support for the Essex and Ivoryton libraries.  As for establishing a costly professional police force, MacMillian says that rather he wants to create an advisory body of volunteers, who had worked in law enforcement, to monitor the town’s police force and its effectiveness.

In response Needleman, also in a telephone interview with ValleyNewsNow, says MacMillian originally had advocated an expensive professional police force, but had backed away from it.  “We are unable to keep up with him,” Needleman comments.

In response to MacMillian’s denials that he would not cut town funding of Meals on Wheels nor of the Essex and Ivoryton libraries, Needleman maintains that not only would these three non-profits be at risk,  but so would all of the other non-profits supported by the town, if MacMillian were elected.

To substantiate this view Needleman refers to MacMillian’s comments in the Oct. 12 edition of the Valley Courier, where MacMillian said, “I don’t like to see 17 non-profit organizations funded through tax dollars.  Certainly, funds for the fire department and ambulance association – public safety concerns – would be funded, but I question the need for us to fund the others … I am very much an advocate of small government,” which he describes as a government that, “Provides for need, not extras.”

In the same vein on Nov. 3 on ValleyNewsNow, MacMillian said, “Non-profits that receive our taxes dollars need to show us that they are providing a return on our investment.  No return.  No future funding.”

Needleman tells ValleyNewsNow, “Those non-profits are the very organizations that help those most in need for our town.  I feel the small amount of money we spend on helping our most vulnerable through these partnerships is important, and this is a significant contrast in how we [he and MacMillian] approach running the town.”

Needleman also noted in his telephone interview that, in his (Needleman’s) opinion, MacMillian has, “A right-wing approach to dealing with every issue.”

For his part, MacMillian was particularly critical that at the Nov. 1 debate at Town Hall, Needleman said, in MacMillian words, “All sorts of nice things about the campaign.  But even then he (Needleman) had in the queue, this latest mailing.

Democrat Norman Needleman and Republican Bruce MacMillian Compete for Open Essex First Selectman Seat

ESSEX— The contest for the open first selectman seat puts four-term incumbent Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman against Republican Bruce MacMillian, a retired insurance company executive.

The two rivals are competing to succeed incumbent Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller. Miller, who has been the Democratic nominee in every town election since 1999, was elected with Needleman in 2003, but declined to seek a new term after he was elected state representative for the four-town 36th House District in a special election last February.

The candidates share some personal similarities. Both moved to Essex in the 1980s. Needleman, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, arrived in 1985, while MacMillian, a West Hartford native, arrived in town in 1986. Both are fathers, Needleman, 60, has two grown sons. Now divorced, Needleman’s companion is Jacqueline Hubbard, executive director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. MacMillian, 64, is the married father of three sons.

Both candidates have had successful careers in the private sector, along with varying public service experience. Needleman is the founder of Tower Laboratories, a company that manufactures effervescent products, or as Needleman says, “anything that fizzes.” The company, with a dozen employees when it relocated from Westerly, R. I. to the Essex Industrial Park in 1985, now employs over 150 people. Before winning election as selectman, he served on the zoning board of appeals and the economic development commission.

MacMillian, a former vice-president for Travelers Insurance Company, later founded and sold a company called CEU.Com. MacMillian is on the board of directors for Middlesex Hospital, and after appointment by Miller, was chairman of the Essex Housing Authority from 2005 to 2007.

Both candidates pledge to serve as a full time first selectman. Needleman said his company has a management team of four vice-presidents that would allow him to devote full time to the job of first selectman, adding “I have already been the most active and engaged second selectman in anyone’s memory.” MacMillian said he would be a full-time first selectman with “no other commitments or distractions.”

The candidates share similar views on some town issues, and differing perspectives on others. MacMillian said he would be the town’s “chief salesman,” to push economic development and fill vacant commercial structures. He would consider incentives from the town if that was necessary to bring the right kind of business to Essex. Needleman does not favor incentives, suggesting tax abatements would set a bad precedent in a town that already has a low tax rate.

Neither candidate advocates changes to the structure of town government. MacMillian said a town charter could help clarify some government policies and procedures, but opposes any change to a town manager form of government and has “no interest,” in a four-year term for first selectman. Needleman sees no need for a town charter or a town manager, pointing to efforts by he and Miller to have “well-trained professionals,” in town hall positions. Needleman said he would only raise the option of a four-year term for first selectman if residents asked for the change, adding “it’s not in my mind to bring it up now.”

Essex was one the first town in Middlesex County to consider the option of a four-year term, with voters rejecting the change in a 2000 referendum during the administration of former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster.

Police service has emerged as an issue, though the candidates stated positions are similar. MacMillian said the town should have a resident state trooper and four full-time officers, a staffing level that was established during the last decade. He also suggests forming an advisory police commission to assist the board of selectmen in police hiring, evaluations, and negotiations with the local police union.

The town currently has a resident state trooper and two full-time officers, with a backup state trooper who was retained last year when two other officers were on leave. One senior local officer who was on leave retired in August while another remains on medical leave.

Needleman has suggested that MacMillian favors a full-time town police department. He favors continuing with a resident state trooper, and suggests the exact number of town officers should be decided as part of the town budget for 2012-2013. He said a police commission would only be necessary for a full-time department, adding that selectmen have sought input from law enforcement professionals in all recent police hires.

In commenting on the idea for a police commission, Needleman said MacMillian lacks the town government experience needed to be an effective first selectman. “My opponent doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” he said, adding “I don’t think somebody should run for first selectman without first being on the board of selectmen.”

MacMillian said he would be “a more effective manager,” and has “more of an open mind,” than Needleman.” I have the advantage of looking at things with a fresh set of eyes,” he said.

Despite active door-to-door campaigning, multiple political mailings, and heavy fundraising, the candidates have avoided personal attacks, with each expressing respect for the other. MacMillian’s campaign has raised and spent slightly more campaign dollars. MacMillian’s campaign committee had raised $9,945 and spent $7,517, according to the October finance report that was filed earlier this week. Needleman’s campaign committee raised $8,312, with expenditures of $6,796 as of Oct. 25.

MacMillian is running with incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi. With past service on the zoning commission and board of finance, Marzi was elected to the board of selectmen in 2009 after losing the first selectman contest to Miller by 376 votes. Needleman is running with Stacia Rice Libby, an insurance agent who has served previously on the park and recreation commission. A former Republican who changed parties to run with Needleman, Libby, if elected, would be the first woman to serve on the board of selectman since the 1980s.

After a winner of the first selectman race is determined, the top two vote-getters among the other candidates, including a possible losing candidate for first selectman, will be elected as the board of selectmen for the 2011-2013 term.


Essex Selectmen Candidates Hold Cordial Debate Before Large Crowd

Large crowd gathered for Essex Selectman candidate debate (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— The competing candidates for first selectman and board of selectmen held a cordial campaign debate Tuesday before a large crowd of residents.

About 250 residents packed the auditorium at town hall to watch Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman, the party’s candidate for first selectman and Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian debate local issues and priorities. Also participating were Republican Selectman Joel Marzi and Democratic Selectman nominee Stacia Rice Libby. The first selectman seat is open this year with the departure of four term Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who was elected state representative in a February special election.

The candidates responded to written questions posed by Essex Librarian Richard Conroy during the 75-minute debate. The questions were submitted by residents in advance, with no questions from the audience. The candidates remained cordial throughout the debate, with all participants shaking hands at the end.

Bruce MacMillian (photo courtesy Jenny Tripp)

But despite the friendly tone, differences emerged on some issues. MacMillian, a former Travelers Insurance Company executive who chaired the Essex Housing Authority from 2005-2007, said he would use the powers of persuasion that go with the first selectman position to attract new businesses to vacant store fronts and commercial buildings in town. “I want to be the chief salesman for the town,” MacMillian said, adding that he would consider offering incentives for the right kind of business development.

Needleman, the founder of the Tower Laboratories manufacturing business who served on the economic development commission before being elected selectman in 2003, maintained Essex is “still faring very well,” despite some commercial vacancies because it is a “well maintained” town with “excellent education, reasonable services, and low taxes.” He suggested filling some large commercial spaces would be a challenge in the continuing slow national economy.

Neither candidate advocated quick action to adopt a blight ordinance, an option that was considered by the board of selectmen last year but never brought to a town meeting vote. MacMillian said he would make personal appeals to owners of unsightly properties, including long vacant commercial structures, before bringing a blight ordinance to the voters for approval.

Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy Jenny Tripp)

Needleman said two of three vacant residential properties that prompted calls for a blight ordinance last year have now been sold and improved. He also favored talking to property owners first, noting “talk is what we need to do before considering the sledgehammer of a blight ordinance.”

The candidates also differed on police services, with Needleman suggesting MacMillian favors a full time police department, something Needleman described as a slippery slope” towards higher costs for the town. Needleman said the town should continue with the resident state trooper program supplemented by some full-time officers. He said the exact number of town officers working with the resident state trooper should be a subject for discussion between town officials and residents.

The town currently has two full-time officers, with one officer on medical leave and another position opened up by the retirement of a senior officer in August.

MacMillian said he “thought we already had a full-time police department,” with four full-time police positions funded in recent town budgets. MacMillian said he would favor having “the current force fully staffed,” with four officers serving under one resident state trooper.

MacMillian also advocated establishing a police commission to provide advice and guidance “one the whole police issue,” including hiring, evaluations, and negotiations with the police union. He maintained there are retired law enforcement professionals living in Essex who would be willing to serve on a police commission.

Both candidates agreed Essex does not need to switch to a town manager form of government, a step that would first require drafting and adoption of a town charter. Needleman said the “first selectman model works very well,” and allows “greater accountability” to the voters. Needleman said as a selectman he has strived to have “competent professionals,” working in town hall jobs to “insure continuity,” even with changes in the elected board of selectmen.

MacMillian said he would not favor a change to the town manager form of government, noting “I thought that’s what I was interviewing for,” by running for first selectman.

Both candidates pledged to serve as a full-time first selectman. Needleman said his company is “on sound footing,” with a management team, allowing him to devote full time to the first selectman position. MacMillian said he is currently retired and would be a full-time first selectman with “no other commitments or distractions.”

The top three vote-getters on Nov. 8, including a possible losing candidate for first selectman, will be elected as the board of selectmen for the 2011-2013 term.

See related story to watch video recordings of debate

Video Clips of Essex Selectmen Candidate Debate at the Town Hall

A large crowd turned out for the Nov. 1 debate at Essex Town Hall between the two candidates for First Selectman of Essex, Republican Bruce MacMillian and Democrat Norman Needleman, and the Republican and Democratic candidates for Selectman, Republican Joel Marzi and Democrat Stacia Rice-Libby.

Richard Conroy, director of the Essex Library posed questions submitted to the library by Essex town residents prior to the debate.  Question included topics such as how they would handle the blighted property issue,  what their business development plan would be for the town, what their views are on supporting non-profit organizations and whether the town should hire a Town Manager.  Each candidate responded to each question alternately and each was given the opportunity to offer some concluding remarks.

The selectmen candidates Marzi and Rice-Libby also gave short introductory comments and short concluding remarks.

Videos clips of opening statements, responses to questions and closing comments are provided below.

Democrat Edmund Meehan Faces Common Ground Party Challenge for Open Chester First Selectman Seat

CHESTER— The contest for the open first selectman position puts a longtime public sector employee against a political newcomer running as the first time candidate of a recently formed local third party.

Democrat Edmund Meehan is challenged in the Nov. 8 vote by Andrew Landsman, nominee of the Chester Common Ground Party, a local party established in 2009 that is running its first ticket for board of selectmen this year. Whoever wins, there will be a change in political control at town hall as Chester Republicans are not running a candidate for first selectman after three consecutive municipal elections wins.

The last change occurred in 2005, when Republican Tom Marsh unseated six-term Democratic First Selectman Martin Heft. Marsh, who last year ran for governor as nominee of the Connecticut Independent Party, easily defeated Democratic challengers in 2007 and 2009 before leaving the first selectman seat in August to become town manager in Windsor, Vt. Republican Tom Englert, elected to the board of selectmen with Marsh in 2009, became interim first selectman on Aug. 16, holding the job until the current two-year term ends on Nov. 22. Englert is seeking a second term on the board of selectmen, but no Republicans are running for the top spot.

Democrat candidate Edmund Meehan

Meehan, 66, has been a Chester resident since 1982, but first arrived in the Valley Shore area in the early 1970s as a planner for the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency. A married father of four sons, Meehan worked as a planner for the City of Hartford before taking his current job as town planner for Newington in 1988. He served as a member and chairman of the town planning and zoning commission in the 1980s and as member and chairman of the board of finance in the 1990s.

Meehan said he was approached by several residents about serving as interim first selectman early last summer, and declined because of his commitment to the Newington job.  But after consulting with his family, Meehan, who was preparing to retire from the Newington job next year, accepted the Democratic nomination for first selectman at the July 27 nominating caucus. Meehan is running with incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher, who is seeking a second term on the board.

Landsman, 50, arrived in Chester from Burlington in 2007 after 22 years in various sales and management positions with the CIGNA health insurance company. The father of a 20-year-old daughter, Landsman currently works as director of facilities at the local Aaron Manor Skilled Nursing Care Facility. He has served on the inland-wetlands commission and is active with the Chester Rotary Club.

Landsman, an unaffiliated voter, approached town Democrats about running for first selectman, but later agreed to join the Chester Common Ground Party, a local third party established in 2009 that promotes a non-partisan approach to town government. Landsman said he is running for first selectman to bring his “problem solving and leadership skills to the table.” He is running with Glen Reyer, owner of a local information technology company and former member of the planning and zoning commission who helped found the Chester Common Ground Party in 2009. Landsman and Reyer are the party’s first ticket for board of selectmen.

The two rivals agree on the town’s top priority for the 2001-2013 term, and hold similar positions on several potential issues. Meehan and Landsman each said the Main Street Project, a reconstruction of the town’s Main Street to be done in conjunction with two nearby state-funded bridge replacement projects, would be a major focus of the next two years.

Each pledged to work with a recently established volunteer Main Street Committee, contractors, and the state Department of Transportation to make sure the work does not disrupt life and regular business activity in the downtown village.

Neither candidate calls for changes to the structure of town government, such as drafting of a town charter or a four-year term for first selectman and board of selectmen. Meehan said he would always favor the current two-year term , while Landsman said he would consider proposing a four-year term only if residents were calling for the change. “It’s not high on my priority list,” he said.

Both candidates are open to the idea of Chester joining the Connecticut River Area Regional Health District that now serves Clinton, Deep River and Old Saybrook, but only after a detailed study comparing costs and services. Both candidates pledge to be a full time first selectman, while Meehan adds there would be a “transition” from the start of the term next month to the end of the year as he prepares to leave the job in Newington.

Landsman, while acknowledging Meehan is a “very capable candidate,” said he would bring a “stronger passion” for the job, and sales experience that would help boost economic development. Meehan said he has much broader public sector experience from his role in Newington, particularly for large scale projects like the Main Street Project. Meehan said he has coordinated a four-phase $3.5 million streetscape project and “knows the process,” adding “after doing this for 40 years I’ve done a lot of things.”

Both candidates have campaigned door-to-door over the past six weeks, with Common Ground sponsoring two and Democrats four town-wide campaign mailings. Unlike recent contested town elections, there was no public debate this year. Landsman said his campaign requested a debate, but Meehan said the request “came late” at a time when he was very busy with a controversial development proposal in Newington.

Also campaigning door-to-door is Englert, who notes his service as interim first selectman has given him “great experience and background,” to continue on the board of selectmen. Englert said he has a “personal preference” for the top job, but would probably not make a public endorsement. He also discounted speculation the Common Ground group is linked to town Republicans, with Reyer also on the Republican slate as a candidate for board of finance.

“Glen Reyer is running against me and so for that matter is Andy Landsman,” Englert said, adding there has been no effort by town Republicans to promote the Common Ground Party.

The new board of selectmen will be comprised of the winner for first selectman and the top two vote-getters for board of selectmen, a mix that would include the losing candidate for first selectman.


News From the Front of Essex’s “Lawn Sign War”

The battle of the lawn signs wages in Essex. The two principal combatants, Republican candidate for First Selectman Bruce MacMillian and Democratic candidate Norman Needleman, are duking it out on a host of private lawns in town.

As to whether the omnipresent signs are a form of visual pollution in the “oh so quaint,” colonial town of Essex, or are a meaningful example of political expression, jealously protected by the First Amendment, is in the eye of the beholder.

For his part Democratic candidate Norman Needleman says, “Signs don’t vote, but our supporters are very enthusiastic about our campaign, and like to show their support by displaying them, that said, I would be quite content if there was an agreement not to have any signs by both parties, because they are wasteful and, when there are too many of them, they tend to be unsightly.”

Republican candidate Bruce MacMillian says about the lawn signs, “I think they are probably a relatively inconspicuous way to get your name before the public. I am concerned, when residents raise an issue about this traditional way of campaigning in local politics. We always get permission of the property owner before we put up our signs, and we get requests from people who want our signs.”

To determine who is ahead in Essex’s lawn sign war, we took an informal count of the candidates’ lawn signs. The two test territories tallied were: (1) along North Main Street and River Road from the Silent Policeman to Heritage Cove, and (2) from River Road up Book Hill Road to the Deep River line.

MacMillian ahead, but not by much

Combining the two tallies the winners are:

Bruce MacMillian, running for First Selectman—18 lawn signs

MacMillian lawn sign at Book Hill Road and River Road

Norman Needleman, running for First Selectman – 16 lawn signs

Needleman lawn sign at top of Book Hill Road

Joel Marzi, running for Selectman – 5 lawn signs
(Marzi’s name also appears on some of MacMillian’s signs.)

Mazi lawn sign on Book Hill Road

Stacia Rice-Libby, running for Selectman – 0 lawn signs
(However, Rice-Libby’s name appears on all of Needleman’s signs.)

John Ackerman, running for Board of Assessment Appeals – 8 lawn signs

These counts are not a definitive test as to who are going to win the elections. Also, in a brief vehicular survey, it appears that whereas lawn sign coverage for the First Selectman’s race in Centerbrook was a tie, in Ivortyton Needleman had plenty of lawn signs in place, whereas MacMillian’s lawn signs had yet to reach the area.

Finally, the goblins that are about on Halloween, October 31, sometimes play havoc with lawn signs. Therefore, both camps will  hold back on a final planting of lawn signs, until after Halloween and before Election Day on November 8.

Supporting Needman, even though the house is for sale

Deep River’s Dick Smith Endorses Norman Needleman for First Selectman of Essex

Deep River's Dick Smith endorses Essex's Norman Needleman

Deep River’s long serving First Selectman, Dick Smith, has endorsed a fellow Democrat, Norman Needleman, to be First Selectman of Essex. Needleman is waging a hard fought campaign for Essex First Selectman against a Republican challenger.

Smith on the other hand is running for his 12th term as Deep River’s First Selectman with no opposition whatsoever. The Republicans did not even put up a candidate against him.

In endorsing Needleman, Smith said, “Knowledge and experience are always important,” and he noted that Needleman had eight years of town government experience, as Essex Selectman, behind him. Smith said, “Many of the issues in these small towns are the same,” and that this was particularly true of Deep River and Essex.

Smith pointed out that the two towns “share a regional school district, we share the dog pound, and we have a mutual aid agreement in providing fire and ambulance services.”

Smith also said that when it comes to dealing with state government, Needleman would know what “to lobby against,” such as unfunded mandates, and “what to lobby for,” such as state grants. “He would be a great guy to work with” Smith said.

Smith said that he felt that the next few years were going to be particularly tough because of economic conditions. He was clear that he wanted an experienced hand running the town government next door, and that was Norman Needleman.

Town Republicans Lead Democrats in Campaign Funding for Nov. 8 Election

ESSEX— Republican first selectman nominee Bruce MacMillian has raised more campaign funding dollars than Democratic candidate Norman Needleman, according to campaign finance reports for a three-month period ending Sept. 30.

MacMillian, a retired business executive running for board of selectmen with incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, has raised a total of $9,195 for the MacMillian for First Selectman candidate committee. The committee reported expenditures of $1,269, with a balance on hand of $7,925 as of Sept. 30. Town Republicans have also done limited fundraising for the Essex Republican Town Committee, raising a total of $1,593, with expenditures of $515 as of Sept. 30.

Needleman, a local businessman who has served on the board of selectman since 2003, is seeking the top job on a ticket with Stacia Rice Libby as the candidate for board of selectmen. The Needleman-Libby 2011 candidate committee has raised a total of $6,175, with expenditures of $2,717 and a balance on hand of $3,457 as of Sept. 30. The Essex Democratic Town Committee filed a short form campaign finance report for the July-September period.

MacMillian contributed $1,000 for his campaign, the maximum allowed by law. Other large donors include Yong Huo of Guilford $500, with local residents Lynn Richardson and Chad Floyd each donating $300. There were several $250 or $200 donations from town residents, including $250 from former First Selectman Bruce Glowac, Linda Dwyer, Geoffrey Herter, Estelle Zahn, John Beverage, and Karen Migliaccio. There were $200 donations from Burton Karp, Chester Kitchings, Peter Shanley, Joseph Bardenheier, and Marzi. Lawrence Doyle of Vero Beach, Fla. donated $150.

A total of 27 town residents each donated $100 to the MacMillian campaign, including former 33rd District State Senate nominee Neil Nichols, John Orr, Adrienne Forrest, James Richard, Alison Nichols, Joseph Ackerman, George Mayer, Lee Thompson, Linda Newber, Nancy Ackerman, Terry Stewart, Frank Wolcott, Donna Hyde, Timothy Lynch, Joanne O’Neil, Rives Potts, Carolyn Timmerman, Yvonne Haynes, Cynthia David, Mary Jones,  Arthur Meister, Patricia Doylin, Janet Peckinpaugh, Steven Bancroft, Jean Fisher, and Joseph Montana. Also Vivienne Gorra of Madison $100 and Bernard Grabowski of Bristol $100.

Needleman and his companion, Ivoryton Playhouse Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard, each donated $750 to the campaign. The candidate’s son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Katie Needleman of Ivoryton, also each contributed $750. Other large donations include $500 each from residents Joseph and Elizabeth DeFelice, and $250 donations from resident Geraldine Ficarra and Stanley Prymas of Deep River. Carol Macelwee donated $200. Nine town residents each contributed $100 to the Needleman-Libby Committee, including First Selectman Phil Miller, Robin Chapin, Larry Shipman, Caitlin Riley, Roseann Vertimiglia, William Buckridge, Lee Thompson, Mark Reeves, and Beverly Taylor. Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook also donated $100.