August 24, 2019

Norman Needleman Declares for Democratic First Selectman Nomination with Stacia Libby, Former Republican, as Running-Mate

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman formally declared as a candidate for the open first selectman nomination Monday, announcing Stacia Rice Libby, a former Republican, as his running-mate for board of selectmen.

About 35 Democrats turned out for the announcement on the front steps of town hall. Needleman was introduced by Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who has served on the board with Needleman since their first election in 2003. Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District in a February special election, said Needleman and Libby would be a “strong team” for the town.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will hold an endorsement session for the 2011 election slate Monday at 6:30 p.m. in town hall. The Needleman-Libby ticket is facing a challenge for the party nominations from Anthony Chirico, running for first selectman, and Linda Savitsky, running for board of selectmen. Chirico, a former Republican, was the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in 2000 and 2002. Chirico, who became a Democrat in 2004, served previously on the zoning commission with Savitsky, a former employee of the state Office of Policy and Management.

Needleman, 59, moved to Essex in 1987, founding Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company located at the Essex Industrial Park. Before running with Miller in 2003, he served on the zoning board of appeals and the economic development commission. Needleman said he asked Libby, who currently serves on the park and recreation commission, to change her party registration and become his running-mate.

Libby, 38, is a 14-year town resident who has also been active on the board of the Essex Community Fund. Until last week, Libby was a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee. Town Republicans accepted her letter of resignation from the committee on July 13, and Libby changed her registration from Republican to Democrat the following day. She is married and the mother of two children.

Needleman said he has the experience needed for the position of first selectman. Needleman said “the role of first selectman would be the first priority to me,” noting that he has “an experienced, capable management team in place,” to run his company.

Needleman said he is prepared for a possible challenge from Chirico, which could lead to a Sept. 13 Democratic primary to determine the party nominees. “I am going to work very hard to get us elected as a team,” he said.

Candidates who do not receive the town committee endorsement could force a primary by submitting petition signatures signed by five percent of the town’s registered Democratic voters, or about 60 signatures, by an early August deadline. Town Republicans are expected to nominate Bruce MacMillian, a former member of the Essex Housing Authority, for first selectman, and incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi as the running-mate at the party caucus Wednesday evening.

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