Preston — The Republican Town Committee unanimously endorsed 18-year First Selectman Robert Congdon for re-election Tuesday, and in a split vote also endorsed incumbent Selectman Michael Sinko for his fourth term.
While Congdon received a unanimous voice-vote endorsement, Sinko faced a challenge from current Board of Finance member Max Zachem. Sinko won the nomination 44 to 14 in a paper ballot.
Zachem, 20, received enough votes to seek a primary. After the caucus, he said he hasn't yet decided whether he would do that. Zachem joined the town committee Tuesday and vowed to remain active in town politics.
"I'm going to sit back and figure out my options," Zachem said of a possible primary bid.
Zachem's recent appointment to the Board of Finance to finish out a term that ends in November was controversial, because he is the son of current finance board member Kenneth Zachem. The elder Zachem was endorsed for a new six-year term on the Board of Finance, but Max Zachem said he did not seek a nomination to the finance board in order to avoid the perception of conflict of interest with his father on the board.
Congdon thanked the 60 people who participated in the caucus for attending, and mentioned at least two issues expected to be in the forefront in the coming years — tribal issues in light of new federal Bureau of Indian Affairs rules to loosen federal recognition criteria for tribes and negotiations for a new host town agreement with the owners of the Preston incinerator.
"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to run again in November," Congdon said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."
The town committee also endorsed 21-year Town Clerk/Tax Collector Hattie Wucik and Treasurer Susan Nylen for re-election.
The town committee endorsed Merrill Gerber for a four-year term on the Board of Finance, Kenneth Zachem and William Legler for six-year terms on the finance board, Charlie Raymond and Jennifer Harris for Board of Education, Gregory Moran for Board of Assessment Appeals, Charlie Raymond and Daniel Sperduto for Planning and Zoning Commission, Blaze Faillaci for PZC alternate, Gary Cardot for Zoning Board of Appeals and Dan Spicer for ZBA alternate.
"We have a fantastic slate of candidates," town committee Chairman Norman Gauthier said, "mostly incumbents with a lot of experience."