Six candidates run for East Lyme Board of Selectmen

East Lyme — Six candidates, mostly incumbents, are seeking the town's five selectman seats. 

Democrats Rose Ann Hardy and Dan Cunningham, both incumbents, and Terence P. Donovan, who would be new to the board, and Republicans Marc L. Salerno, Paul T. Dagle and Kevin A. Seery, all incumbents, are running for two-year terms on the Board of Selectmen.

Hardy, 73, who is married with two children, has been on the Board of Selectmen for 32 years and is a teacher at East Lyme High School.

She said a top issue is balancing East Lyme's small-town atmosphere with the need to bring in businesses for the tax base. The protection of the town's aquifer and water supply also is a priority, she said.

Another issue is addressing infrastructure needs and updating facilities to be more energy-efficient. She said the town needs a state-of-the-art public safety facility to allow safety officials to do their best job and is advocating for the board to seriously discuss this.

Cunningham, 63, an attorney in Niantic who is married with four children and was a mock trial attorney coach at the high school for 21 years, is seeking his second term.

Cunningham said it will be important to keep a close eye on development in town and on Main Street, potentially taking it a little slower so the character of the town doesn't get ruined.

He said he would continue to support the police department, which became independent in July, and ensure officers have the tools they need to do the job right. He also said the town should make sure it reserves enough water and sewer capacity for potential future growth and the expansion of its sewer system where it makes sense, for example, to neighborhoods close to the river.

Donovan, 50, has worked in construction and plumbing for more than 30 years and owns his own general contracting business. He is the chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and has served on the Zoning Commission since 2011.

Donovan said he would like the town to have more say over parks and beaches. He said that when Rocky Neck gets full and people then come to the town's beaches, they become so crowded that townspeople can't get in at times. He mentioned increasing rates for out-of-towners as one idea that could be explored.

He said a top issue will be for the Board of Selectmen to improve communication with the public. Saving money also is a top priority, mentioning for example, that town officials are working on a purchasing policy, and it will be important to see that completed.

Salerno, 40, is married with two children, and is a senior engineer and project manager at Applied Physical Sciences Inc. in Groton. He has served on the Board of Selectmen since 2015 and previously served on the Zoning Commission and Aquifer Protection Agency.

He said the Board of Selectmen will need to prepare for an anticipated decrease in state aid by finding additional efficiencies in town government, regionalizing where it makes sense and controlling debt.

Salerno, who is an ex-officio member of the School Building Committee, said he would like to see the elementary school renovations successfully completed and for the project to be below or at budget. He also named the installation of sidewalks on Route 161, between Niantic and Flanders, as a goal, so people can safely walk or ride bikes there.

Dagle, 57, who is married with three sons and is the director of facilities and construction support at Electric Boat, was appointed to the Board of Selectmen 10 months ago. He also has served on the Planning Commission and the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Dagle said a major issue is the future status of state aid, so the board will need to look for additional efficiencies in town government, work with the Board of Education for their budgeting process and find opportunities to save money through purchasing programs.

Another priority is being supportive of the building committee and Board of Education to ensure the elementary school upgrades are done on time and under budget.

He also said he would like to ensure that the development of Gateway Commons goes hand in hand with improving traffic safety in the area, and increase the town's tax base.

Seery, 61, a retired state trooper who served in the U.S. Navy and is the deputy first selectman, has been on the Board of Selectmen since 2011 and served on the Board of Education from 1997 to 2011.

With the state's fiscal situation, Seery said the biggest challenge for the town and other municipalities will be finding ways to lessen dependence on state revenue.

Another priority is to maintain the town's infrastructure, which Seery said the town is already doing, for example, by working toward a microgrid project that will provide back-up electricity and save the town money.

He is working with a group of residents interested in raising their own funds to establish a dog park in town, with one potential location being by Darrow Pond.

In addition to the candidates for first selectman, Board of Selectmen, and Board of Education, candidates also are running for town offices and spots on other boards and commissions.

Republican Karen M. Galbo, cross-endorsed, is running for town clerk; Democrat Michael Bekech and Republican Scott E. Fraser are running for Town Treasurer; Republican John H. McCulloch is running for tax collector; Independent Peter DiNapoli, endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee, and Democrats Peter DeRosa and Camille Alberti, and Republicans John T. Birmingham, Anne R. Santoro and Lawrence W. Fitzgerald are running for the Board of Finance; and Democrat Tony Attanasio and Republican William W. Mather III are running for the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Republicans Rita Franco-Palazzo, Thomas W. Fitting Jr. and Kirk E. Scott are running for full terms and Republican David McIlhenney is running to fill a two-year vacancy on the Planning Commission, while Republicans Don D. Phimister (full term) and Kathryn L. Johnson (to fill two-year vacancy) are seeking alternate positions on the Planning Commission; Democrat William Dwyer and Republicans Norman B. Peck, Matthew J. Walker and Kimberly A. Kalajainen are running for the Zoning Commission, and Democrat Ann Thurlow and Republican James Liska are seeking alternate spots on the Zoning Commission.

k.drelich@theday.com

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