Reemsnyder wins fourth term as first selectwoman in Old Lyme

Jude Read, left, and Bonnie Reemsnyder, right, shake hands after the results of the election were announced at the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme late on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.  Reemsnyder had the most votes and will continue to be the first selectman, and Chris Kerr and Mary Jo Nosal will be the selectmen.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Jude Read, left, and Bonnie Reemsnyder, right, shake hands after the results of the election were announced at the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme late on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Reemsnyder had the most votes and will continue to be the first selectman, and Chris Kerr and Mary Jo Nosal will be the selectmen. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Democrat First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder won a fourth term as Old Lyme's top elected official Tuesday, staving off a challenge from Republican Judith "Jude" Danenhower Read in a race that generated vigorous debate about local control of police and health services and blight at Soundview Beach.

Turnout was heavy, with 2,794 of the town's 5,700 registered voters casting ballots at the Cross Lane firehouse.

Reemsnyder garnered 1,520 votes to 1,248 for Read. Reemsnyder's longtime Democratic partner, Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, also won re-election. Republican Chris Kerr, with 1,266 votes, was newly elected to the three-member Board of Selectmen and will be sworn in within the next two weeks. Kerr, who served on the Board of Finance, will fill the seat vacated by Republican Arthur "Skip" Sibley Jr. who decided not to seek re-election after eight terms of service on the Board of Selectmen.

"We had a formidable campaign, a formidable opponent," Reemsnyder said in between accepting congratulatory hugs from supporters. "I had a lot of respect for Jude Read and I would not take her candidacy lightly."

Read congratulated Reemsnyder and said outside the polling place that she was disappointed but not devastated.

"I'm OK with it, and if it was going to be the end of the world, I wouldn't have done it," she said.

Reemsnyder has been widely credited with playing a key role in blocking a planned railroad bypass that would have gutted the historic downtown district. Nosal was instrumental in overseeing a streetscape project on Hartford Avenue that the administration says was an important step in reviving Soundview Beach.

But Reemsnyder's plan to explore collaborating with East Lyme for police services, and the town's decision to join the Ledge Light Health District, a regional service provider, had become a topic of debate during the campaign, with opponents objecting to the town's loss of local control. Reemsnyder said she would continue to work on the police staffing issue, which is most evident during summer weekends, when controlling crowds that flock to the beach community place heavier demands on its resident troopers and town officers.

Members of the beach community have also complained that decaying vacant buildings on Hartford Avenue have blighted Soundview because their owners, fearful that they won't be able to demolish and redevelop them under current regulations, have left them untouched. Reemsnyder said the town is close to passing a blight ordinance. 

Most of the other races were uncontested, including the election of a new town clerk, Vicki Urbowicz, who had served as the deputy to longtime town clerk Eileen K. Coffee. Urbowicz, a Republican who was unopposed and endorsed by both parties, received 2,648 votes, the most of any candidate.

k.florin@theday.com

Chip Birscoe waits his turn for an open voting booth at the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme late on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Chip Birscoe waits his turn for an open voting booth at the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme late on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Jean Wilczynski, center, candidate for Board of Education, and Mary Jo Nosal, right, candidate for selectman, look at texts they are receiving while waiting in the hall outside the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme for the election results Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Jean Wilczynski, center, candidate for Board of Education, and Mary Jo Nosal, right, candidate for selectman, look at texts they are receiving while waiting in the hall outside the polling station located at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme for the election results Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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