Preston Republicans endorse candidates for fall election

Preston — A new political era began officially Monday, with the Republican Town Committee endorsing candidates for first selectman and town clerk/tax collector not named Robert Congdon and Hattie Wucik for the first time in more than two decades.

Congdon, a Republican, will retire after the Nov. 5 election after 24 years in the position, with the newly elected first selectman taking office the third week of November. Congdon had planned to retire after the 2017 election but stayed for another two years after no candidate in either party came forward.

That’s not the case this year, with announced hopefuls for both parties.

Two Republicans vied for the Republican nomination for first selectman Monday, with Board of Education member Edward Gauthier winning the endorsement in a 15-12 paper ballot vote over Greg Moran Sr.

Gauthier, 47, a sales consultant at Lowe’s in Lisbon, was nominated by his father, the current RTC chairman.

“Ed can handle the budget. He’s good with people. He’s a problem solver, and he loves Preston,” Norman Gauthier said.

Gauthier thanked supporters and pledged to try to win support of other town committee members. He said he wanted to keep the town on the fiscally conservative path Congdon has set for the past 24 years.

The two incumbent selectmen also are not seeking re-election, and the RTC endorsed Kenneth Zachem, a Board of Finance member, in a 15-10 paper ballot vote over Moran.

Jill E. Keith was endorsed unanimously by the town committee to run for town clerk/tax collector, the seat being vacated by Wucik after 26 years. Town committee members clarified that Keith is “not the Jill S. Keith” who frequently comments on town issues on Facebook and at town meetings, who attended and supported her nomination.

Congdon did not vacate town politics altogether. He was endorsed for a four-year spot on the Board of Finance.

The Preston Democratic Town Committee is scheduled to endorse its slate of candidates for the fall election at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Preston Public Library.

c.bessette@theday.com

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