Reemsnyder to continue re-election campaign, may still face opposition

Old Lyme — First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said Friday that recent turmoil at the Connecticut Port Authority, including her resignation this week as its board chair, has not swayed her intention to run for a fifth term as town executive.

“I am running again,” Reemsnyder said Friday. “I have 16 years on the Board of Selectmen, eight of them as first selectman. I feel I have worked very hard for the town of Old Lyme and look forward to continuing to do so.”

Reemsnyder, who announced her re-election campaign with selectwoman and running mate Mary Jo Nosal earlier this month and was unanimously endorsed by her party last week, may face opposition.

Despite the Republican Town Committee failing to select its own candidate to run against Reemsnyder at its endorsement meeting Tuesday, Committee Chair David Kelsey said Friday that a Republican candidate, or several, may still step up to the plate as petitioning candidates.

“There are a couple Republicans who may have interest, given the turn of events over the last couple of days,” Kelsey said by phone Friday. “They would not have our endorsement but could be on our line, if they petition.”

“We talked to a fair number of folks (about running), but at the time of the meeting, we did not have a candidate. Now, with the turn of events, I think it's prompted folks to reconsider their decisions,” Kelsey continued.

He did not detail which potential candidates may run.

The Office of the Secretary of the State explained Friday that interested Republican candidates could submit either one of two petitions to see their name on November’s ballot. Republican candidates could submit primary petitions allowing the party to hold its own primary in September to select one candidate to run for first selectman. Or, interested candidates may fill out a nominating petition to simply have their name placed on the ballot without a major party designation.

Both petitions must be submitted to the secretary of the state or the town clerk by Aug. 7. Each filed petition requires a certain number of signatures from either registered Republicans or town voters, depending.

Reemsnyder announced she would resign as chairwoman of port authority board at a special board meeting in Hartford Wednesday after Gov. Ned Lamont called for her resignation earlier in the day.

In a statement, Lamont said, "recent events have been a sideshow and distraction to this organization's critical mission, and that is something I won't tolerate. It is critical that the Connecticut Port Authority has a clear vision with strong and accountable leadership."

Reemsnyder's resignation follows news that the port authority paid her daughter $3,000 for photographs hanging on the walls of its Old Saybrook offices, and her decision, after consulting with the port authority's legal counsel, to place Executive Director Evan Matthews on leave. Neither Reemsnyder, nor other officials, have disclosed the reasons for that move and the decision was not made public.

“I apologize if any of my actions have brought a negative light to the port authority,” Reemsnyder said Friday. “It didn’t have anything to do with the town of Old Lyme, but I have 16 years of a good record. A misstep, poor judgement, I’ll take responsibility for that. But it was not intentional. At some point, I’ll be happy to share how it happened, but not at this time.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Christine Gianquinto said Friday that, despite this week’s events, she and the committee still support Reemsnyder’s campaign.

“She has a proven record of leadership, she has a plan, and the Democrats on the Town Committee want to see that move forward and to keep planning for the future of the town,” Gianquinto said Friday, detailing ongoing projects Reemsnyder still is overseeing, such as ongoing bridge construction and potential Halls Road improvements. “There’s plenty of things going on that she’s involved in. We want to keep moving forward, looking to the future.”

In a statement written to Lyme Line on Thursday, Gianquinto wrote, “The fact that the endorsement by members of the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee of Bonnie Reemsnyder for the position of First Selectman was unanimous speaks for itself. The endorsement was based on a record of proven accomplishment and the knowledge that she will continue to provide strong municipal leadership for all of the residents of Old Lyme. We believe it is important that she should continue her leadership and the positive progress that has led to significant accomplishments for the benefit of the Town of Old Lyme.”

m.biekert@theday.com


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