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Christ and sexting allegations in the Stonington selectman race

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published October 06. 2013 4:00AM

The race for first selectman in Stonington is shaping up to be one of interesting contrasts.

On the Democratic side, you have incumbent Edward Haberek, who has been accused of sending by phone a photograph of his genitals to a female town gadfly.

The sexting accusation, which Haberek denies, remains the grist of an unresolved lawsuit brought by a woman who claims the picture of the first selectman's privates, which she says she deleted from her phone, causes her continuing pain from migraine headaches.

On the Republican side, Haberek's opponent is Glee McAnanly, a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., a school that prominently promotes its Christian mission.

I asked McAnanly, when I had a chance to chat with her this week, whether she subscribes to the school's mission statement, which suggests that graduates go forward into a world "wounded by sin and hoping for redemption" and, "by the grace of God," make a "difference for Jesus Christ all over the globe."

She said she does.

The bulk of her working career was with ServiceMaster Corp., which was founded by an evangelical Baptist and for many decades declared its primary mission "to honor God in all we do."

McAnanly, who is active in her church, the Groton Bible Chapel, owns and operates with her husband, a retired submariner, ServiceMaster franchises in Hartford and Springfield. She said there were none available closer to Stonington when they bought them.

To McAnanly's credit, she has so far avoided raising the sexting allegations against her opponent, even though they might be construed to suggest a Town Hall wounded by sin and hoping for redemption.

McAnanly's supporters, though, often in front of her, have no trouble complaining about Haberek's alleged sins, from dragging the town into the sexting lawsuit to abusing his expense allowances.

McAnanly doesn't stop these attacks when they occur, either during public radio interviews or in an official campaign rally.

The attacks strike me as a little less than Christian in nature, but fair politics.

I asked McAnanly to discuss some of the hot social issues that are often the fare of political campaigns, like gay marriage and abortion, since she is a person of strong religious commitment.

She responded that those generally are not relevant to the job for someone elected to serve as first selectman.

It's a fair answer, one she made politely, although I pursued the questions a few more times, mostly out of a reporter's habit of persistence. She said she would be glad to have a conversation about it sometime later.

I was surprised when she asked me several times whether gay marriage is legal. She also called it a "lifestyle choice."

After I expressed some surprise that she didn't seem to know that Stonington issues marriage licenses to gay couples, and questioned her more about it, she said she actually does know it's legal.

She called me back after our initial phone call ended to say that she wanted to elaborate more on the abortion question but wanted to talk to her husband first.

They have adopted two children from Russia, she said in our second call, a country where she said women are encouraged to put children up for adoption rather than have abortions, and that personal fact influences her thinking on the subject.

I did tell McAnanly that I believe she is disingenuous in including on her résumé a master's degree in business.

Exactly what it says on her official bio, under education, is that she "completed an Executive MBA Program through ServiceMaster in 2000."

She told me this is exactly true, which I don't doubt. She says it was, essentially, a training program run by the company and that is how they describe it.

Still, I think listing MBA on your résumé implies that you have a master's degree from an accredited school, not that you finished a training program at your company.

Haberek, too, has a quirky education listing on his résumé. He includes a Ph.D. in management from the International Academy of Management and Economics in the Philippines, a school that says it offers a holistic education experience.

Haberek also has a traditional MBA in marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, a school most of us here know.

Stonington voters, it seems, have an interesting choice ahead of them in this race.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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