VIDEO: East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson re-elected by close margin
East Lyme — Republican First Selectman Mark Nickerson was elected to his third full term on Tuesday, winning by a close margin against Democratic challenger Camille Alberti, with an outcome of 2,802 to 2,618 — a difference of 184 votes.
"I'm very excited to be victorious and that this town will still be a Republican-run town, and let's be thankful for that," Nickerson said at an election after-party held at Flanders Fish Market after seeing that many new Democrats were elected onto many boards and commissions. "And we are going to be a Republican-run Board of Selectmen, and that's important, too."
Nickerson ran on his 20 years of experience in town government this election season, as well as his "proven track record" of completing various projects in a timely manner and "on budget." He is the owner of two local GEICO offices and previously has served on the Board of Selectmen and Zoning Commission. He became the town's first selectman in January 2015 — when then First Selectman Paul Formica became a state senator — and was elected to his first full term in November 2015.
Nickerson points to a list of accomplishments over his five-year tenure, noting how he spearheaded establishing an independent police force and helped reel in the recent $37.5 million elementary school renovation project on budget. He also has touted many other projects he helped oversee, including the completion of the Niantic Bay Boardwalk and the recently completed Main Street park, as well as the continued expansion of the Gateway Commons housing development and construction of a Costco, scheduled to open Nov. 14.
Alberti, a member of the Board of Finance since 2013, ran on a platform of responsibility and accountability, as well as calling for more transparency within town government. She took aim at Nickerson throughout this election season, questioning his decision-making as first selectman and alleging mismanaged project planning over his tenure.
Alberti cited the ongoing police building renovation plans at the former Honeywell office building at 277 West Main St. as a primary example of project mismanagement. Initial estimates for the building came in millions higher than voters had budgeted for the project, becoming one of this election season’s biggest talking points between candidates.
Nickerson has adamantly maintained that renovations will come in on budget and that the unfolding process is typical for architects trying to plan and budget renovations.
Throughout her campaign, Alberti also questioned some of Nickerson's policy decisions and has called for a less top-down approach to governing, sparking many conversations and questions among residents on social media, while also promising to overhaul many of the town's policies and procedures.
Alberti was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.
"I never doubted my opponent's willingness to serve and her aggressive approach to getting this done," Nickerson said. "... We still have a lot of work to do and I need your help. ... Have you looked at that list of accomplishments that we've done in the last five years? It's amazing. And we have a lot to accomplish in the next two, and we are going to get that done."
Voter turnout was about 42.2 percent.
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