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Two Gauthiers resign Preston positions, leaving vacancies to fill

Preston — Longtime active Republican Norman Gauthier and his son Edward, also a Republican, both resigned from town boards after they moved out of town this month.

Edward Gauthier, who lost a party primary last fall for the first selectman candidacy, resigned from the Board of Education. Norman Gauthier, active in Preston for 45 years, resigned from the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Norman Gauthier, 77, said he sold his Preston house where both had been living, and moved to Norwich. Edward Gauthier bought a seasonal camper in Griswold and moved to Baltic.

Norman Gauthier had served on numerous town boards, including the Board of Finance, and was chairman of the Republican Town Committee for about 15 years. He was a longtime volunteer election worker and Republican registrar for six months to fill a vacancy. He coached Little League and became active with the Parks and Recreation Department years earlier.

He was involved in some heated controversies, including a harassment complaint in Superior Court by fellow Registrar of Voters Cheryl Roberts. Gauthier was finance board chairman when the board threatened to sue the Board of Selectmen over the process for deciding whether seven non-union school employees could join a pension plan.

Norman Gauthier also filed a complaint with state elections officials arguing that a steep concrete ramp to the Town Hall lower level did not meet handicapped accessibility requirements for a polling place. The complaint led the town to move its polling place to Preston Plains Middle School.

But the elder Gauthier also was active in Norwich for many years, especially with the former St. Joseph’s School, which his children attended, and St. Joseph’s Church on Cliff Street. He has volunteered at the parish’s neighborhood carnivals and the Lenten fish and chips fundraiser.

“I’ve always enjoyed it,” Norman Gauthier said. “I’ll probably show up at one of the RTC meetings in Norwich and see what happens. I already registered to vote in Norwich.”

Edward Gauthier said he has registered to vote in Baltic.

Edward Gauthier’s school board term runs until the November 2021 election. Republican Town Committee Chairman Matt Davis was nominated during a special meeting Thursday to fill the remaining time in the vacant seat.

“I look forward to working with the Chairman, Dr. (Sean) Nugent, and Superintendent Dr. (Roy) Seitsinger and other board members,” Davis said in an email, “to continue developing the great reputation the Preston school system has become known for. It is my desire to uphold conservative values in place of Ed Gauthier, while also effectively balancing the needs of every student in our town.”

With the vacancy, the school board now has three Democrats and three Republicans. Nugent said Preston has no requirement that the appointee be a Republican. The Board of Education has received three resumes from interested people and will interview the applicants the week of Oct. 5.

Davis said no nominees came forward at Thursday’s town committee meeting for the vacant assessment appeals board seat, the term for which runs until November 2023. With the vacancy, the three-member board now has one Republican and one unaffiliated member.

The board generally meets only in March to hear real estate appeals and in September to hear motor vehicle assessment appeals. The Board of Selectmen has posted the vacancy under volunteer opportunities on the town website, preston-ct.org. Interested candidates are asked to contact the political parties’ town committee chairmen or contact Cindy Palmer at Town Hall, (860) 887-5581, ext. 107.

c.bessette@theday.com

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