Nickerson likely to serve as East Lyme's interim first selectman

East Lyme — Deputy First Selectman Mark Nickerson will likely step in as interim first selectman beginning in January and serve into next fall, State Sen.-elect Paul Formica said Wednesday.

Formica, the town’s first selectman since 2007, was elected Tuesday as the first Republican to represent the 20th Senate district in more than 20 years.

Formica said Wednesday the town is still working out the details, but the plan is that Nickerson would likely take over in January or sometime before the start of the state legislative session which begins Jan. 7. Nickerson would then serve as interim first selectman until the town’s elections in the fall of 2015.

“I would be grateful for the honor of serving,” said Nickerson, a Republican, on Wednesday. The Board of Selectmen would need to officially approve the decision.

There is precedent for having the deputy first selectman step in to lead the town for an interim period, Formica said. When First Selectman David Cini passed away in 1997, Rose Ann Hardy, who was then deputy first selectwoman, served as first selectwoman from the spring through November.

Formica said Nickerson has been keeping up with the town’s projects.

“I want to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Formica said. “East Lyme will still be my district and my hometown.”

As state senator, Formica said he intends to act in an advisory position to East Lyme. He spoke in his campaign about creating a dialogue with the elected officials of all the towns in the 20th State Senate district — which includes Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

“I think it will help both from a legislative perspective and as a service to the district,” he said.

Formica expects candidates interested in running for the full term as first selectman, a two-year term that begins in 2015, will start announcing their intentions in February or March.

After Nickerson steps in as interim first selectman, the Board of Selectmen will then choose another person to serve in Nickerson’s selectman seat, Formica said.

Along with Formica and Nickerson, Republicans Kevin Seery and Holly Cheeseman and Democrats Rose Ann Hardy and Rob Wilson currently serve on the Board of Selectmen.

At Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, Nickerson recognized Formica and his “well-done campaign.”

"You kept it on the positive, and we're all very proud of you," he said.

Formica thanked the board, town residents and town staff for their support and called being first selectman “the most incredible experience” of his life.

k.drelich@theday.com

Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

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