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Preston Democrats endorse Allyn-Gauthier for second term as first selectwoman

Preston — The Democratic Town Committee endorsed first-term First Selectwoman Sandra Allyn-Gauthier Monday for reelection, along with Selectman Jerry Grabarek as its candidates in the Nov. 2 election.

Allyn-Gauthier, and the entire Board of Selectmen, could be running unopposed. The Republican Town Committee on Friday did not endorse a candidate to run for first selectman and endorsed incumbent Selectman Kenneth Zachem for reelection.

Allyn-Gauthier is completing her first term after she was elected in 2019 following the retirement of Republican First Selectman Robert Congdon. Just three months into her term, COVID-19 hit the state and region. Allyn-Gauthier quickly closed Town Hall and shifted meetings to video or teleconferences. Preston Town Hall remained one of the last in the region to reopen fully to the public, as selectmen remained concerned about the virus and the slow pace of vaccinations in town. About 55% of Preston residents are fully vaccinated.

Allyn-Gauthier said she was pleased to have a strong endorsement for her bid for a second term. She said she was surprised no Republican came forward at the party’s caucus on Friday.

“The past year has been challenging to say the least,” Allyn-Gauthier said. “Hopefully, we are on a return to normalcy.”

Grabarek said when he agreed to run for selectman in 2019, he did not intend to run for reelection this year. But he too said, “it’s been a tough two years.” Grabarek said the current board members work well together.

The Democrats on Monday also endorsed Board of Education member Cindy Luty, Board of Finance member Zach Maurice and Planning and Zoning Commission member Annie Sabrowski. Newcomer Megan Gallant was nominated for Board of Education. Newcomers Gail Smith and Terri Eickel also were endorsed to run for Planning and Zoning Commission, and newcomer Kayla Thompson was endorsed for Board of Finance.

Former Board of Finance member Melissa Lennon was endorsed to complete the term of a vacant seat on the Board of Assessment Appeals. Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Vegliante was endorsed for Zoning Board of Appeals.

No candidate was endorsed for town clerk/tax collector to challenge first-term incumbent Republican Jill Keith.

Placeholder candidates were selected for two slots as alternates to the Board of Finance, for two spots on the Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, Planning and Zoning Commission alternate and Zoning Board of Appeals alternate. Placeholders do not intend to run but hold the spot to allow time for the Democratic Town Committee to find candidates to replace them on the Nov. 2 ballot.

c.bessette@theday.com

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