Petitioning selectman candidate added to Preston ballot

Preston — A political newcomer, who describes himself as “a fiscal conservative with progressive ideals,” will run for selectman as an unaffiliated petitioning candidate.

Sam Chinigo, 53, an award-winning professional photographer, marketing manager and IT specialist for the Norwich Regional Adult Education program, submitted a certified petition to be added to the ballot for selectman.

He will join Democrat and former selectman and current Board of Finance Chairman Jerry Grabarek and Republican Board of Finance member Kenneth Zachem on the ballot.

In an email response to questions about his candidacy, Chinigo said he has lived in Preston for 12 years, and while he hasn’t served on any town boards and commissions, he has attended many Board of Finance and Board of Education meetings “and kept myself up to date on all of the issues in town, especially the budgets."

He also is co-administrator of the Preston Community Voice Facebook page and administers the Preston Parents Association Facebook page.

“I am very involved in a grass roots fashion and I think those who have discussed the issues with me can attest to my ability to be objective,” he said in the email. “I like to hear all sides of an issue.”

Chinigo said others have encouraged him to run for office in town and he decided to do so this year. He was frustrated by the town’s budget process, which for the second straight year required three referendums to win approval of the school budget. He said the boards “wasted people’s time” by putting forth budgets they knew wouldn’t be approved by voters.

He also hopes to reverse the town’s reluctance to embrace social media, saying he would push for an official town Facebook page and Twitter account, saying it would be “a great way to keep people informed and stay in touch with members of the community.” He also would like town meetings to be broadcast live.

c.bessette@theday.com

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