Formica running unopposed for East Lyme first selectman

East Lyme - Six candidates are vying for five spots on the Board of Selectmen, while incumbent First Selectman Paul Formica is uncontested for the top office.

Formica, who was elected in 2007, said he will focus on several issues for the town, including managing capital and infrastructure improvements and weighing efforts to regionalize services, such as emergency dispatch.

He said he wants to work with the town's 2020 Committee to develop a plan to maintain the town's buildings and infrastructure that are aging. He also said finishing the Niantic Bay Boardwalk and developing other opportunities for downtown would stimulate the town's economy.

Formica, who owns Flanders Fish Market and ran for Congress in the 2nd District against Joe Courtney in 2012, said he also supported finding efficiencies through regionalization and keeping taxes low in town.

"The average tax increase has been about 1.2 percent, while we've invested in our infrastructure and processes," he said about the last several years.

This year's race for Board of Selectmen includes five incumbents - Holly Cheeseman, Rose Ann Hardy, Mark Nickerson, Kevin Seery and Robert Wilson - and newcomer Daniel Cunningham. In East Lyme, the selectmen don't always vote unanimously, but the split isn't down party lines. They often discuss issues together, sometimes over the course of several meetings.

Republican Cheeseman, a board member since 2011, said she supported ongoing efforts, such as the regional interconnection project, to provide an adequate water supply and the sensible regionalization of services. Cheeseman said it's important to maintain services in town that promote quality of life, while also being aware that the board is not working with unlimited financial resources.

Cunningham, a Democrat and attorney in Niantic, said his training as a lawyer has given him a logical voice to bring to the table. Referencing a recent open space proposal, he wrote in response to questions by The Day that he supported, in general, acquiring parcels in the town's Plan of Conservation and Development, but favored a measured approach. He said he supports collecting the facts and weighing the "balance between economic development and protection of our natural resources."

Hardy, a Democratic incumbent with 28 years on the board, supported expanding water and sewers in the downtown area where the population is dense, which boosted the tax base while keeping a small town atmosphere. She also said she supports examining regionalization to make sure it benefits the town and maintains the quality of life.

Nickerson, a Republican incumbent on the board since 2009 and the current deputy first selectman, supported keeping the government efficient and taxes low, citing the town's average 1.2 percent tax increase over the last five years.

Nickerson said Formica's administration has run the town efficiently, and his role as a selectman is to weigh every decision to see if it makes financial sense and is in the best interest of the town.

Seery, a Republican incumbent who has served on the Board of Selectmen since 2011, said in response to questions posed by The Day that major issues in town include preserving the town's quality of life while keeping costs down and reassessing services. He said he supported attracting new businesses aligned with the town's character.

Robert Wilson, a Democratic incumbent who has served as a selectman for 16 years, said in his response to questions by The Day that key priorities for the town are regionalization, protecting natural resources and extending sewers to Saunders Point to protect the Niantic River. Wilson also said it was important to maintain the town's buildings and infrastructure and pass efficient budgets.

k.drelich@theday.com

In their own words

The Day asked candidates for top offices in the municipal elections to answer three questions:

• What are the major issues for your town?

• What makes you the best candidate for this job?

• What was the last book you read, and what did you think of it?

For their responses, go to www.theday.com/
voterguide

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