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East Lyme Republicans, Democrats pick candidates for next election

East Lyme — Republican and Democratic Town Committees on Monday night endorsed their slate of candidates for positions across several boards and commissions in this year's upcoming election.

Republicans unanimously endorsed First Selectman Mark Nickerson to run for his fourth term. Democrats unanimously nominated a political newcomer, Debbie Jett-Harris, to vie for his seat.

Nickerson announced he would run for re-election in June, stating it was a decision he made out of love for East Lyme, while also detailing plans to tackle ongoing projects and issues, such as renovations at the town’s future public safety facility on West Main Street. He said he also wanted to pursue new goals, such as possibly instating a tax-abatement program for seniors.

“I am honored to be unanimously endorsed by the (East Lyme Republican Town Committee) for a fourth term this evening,” Nickerson said Monday, following his nomination. “East Lyme is a fantastic community to raise a family. It has also proven to be a haven for those who are retired. We live in a special place and it keeps getting better. ... It’s East Lyme first. It’s the people first. And I am honored to lead this incredible town.”

Jett-Harris, a newly appointed member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, has served as President of the Pine Grove Niantic Association, or PGNA — a beach neighborhood association bordering the Niantic River — for the last year after also serving as a PGNA board member for a year prior.

Jett-Harris has not served on any town boards or commissions prior to her current position on the ZBA, but said she actively has volunteered throughout her community while also working for the Department of Developmental Services “taking care of disabled individuals” over the last 28 years.

Jett-Harris said she also has worked on the campaigns of former Democratic state Sen. Edith Prague and Congressman John Larson — experience she argued well suits her to serve as town executive.

She soon will retire from her position with the DDS, she said Tuesday.

Jett-Harris said that if elected, she hopes to find a stable balance between economic development and preserving the town’s sensitive environment and ecological areas. As president of PGNA, she spearheaded an initiative banning the use of Monsanto's Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides within all areas of her Pine Grove neighborhood, including on the properties of its private homeowners.

“I will listen to the people. I will bring a new way of communication, a new way of town business and a new way of listening,” Jett-Harris said by phone interview Tuesday. “When I’m elected, I will be present every single day. I will have an open-door policy. And one thing I can promise is that there will be 100 percent transparency.”

Jett-Harris was the only candidate to vie for the Democratic endorsement, Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Sharon Hansen said Tuesday, and was unanimously endorsed.

Republican selectmen incumbents Paul Dagle, Marc Salerno and Kevin Seery also were endorsed to run again for their seats on the Board of Selectmen, while on the Democratic ticket, incumbents Rose Ann Hardy and Daniel Cunningham also will run. Jason Deeble, another political newcomer presently serving as a Planning Commission alternate, will vie to be on the Board of Selectmen as a Democrat, as well.


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