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Mattson endorsed by Democrats and Republicans in run for Lyme's top spot

Lyme — First Selectman Steve Mattson has secured the endorsement of the Democrats and Republicans for his reelection bid in a year that promises mostly uncontested races.

The Democrat is running for his third term. He touted the "professional financial approach" he brought to town governance and the mill rate he helped keep flat for four out of the last five years.

Mattson was first appointed to his position in July 2017 to serve the remainder of former First Selectman Ralph Eno's term after Eno resigned. That year, Mattson went on to win the town's first contested race for the top spot in 16 years. He ran unopposed in 2019.

"We are doing much more and doing much better, but also not costing our taxpayers any increase in property taxes," he said. "I'll be happy with that as a legacy."

He said he's extending himself for one more term in the hope of preparing somebody to take over the job.

"There just aren't people that want to do what is a less than pleasant job for lower than market wages. It has to be somebody that's half volunteering, or more than half, and wanting to help the town," he said. "We need to find more of those people like we used to have."

Republican Town Committee Chairman David M. Lahm explained the Republican decision to endorse Mattson by saying both parties want the best people to run Lyme. "It's not about winning, it's about the town."

Both Mattson and Lahm pointed out the Democrats cross-endorsed Eno in 2015.

Before moving to Lyme with his family in 1996, Mattson worked in a variety of high-profile positions with companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Perrier and Anheuser-Busch before retiring at the age of 37 to support his family through trading stocks.

Running for selectman on the Democratic ticket is incumbent John Kiker. The corporate marketing consultant is seeking his third term and also is running for the Board of Assessment Appeals. He serves as the chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

The Republicans put up Lahm as their candidate for selectman. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a reservist who retired as a full colonel with the Connecticut National Guard in 2012. He has been the chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 years and is running for that board, as well.

For the first time in 24 years, Republican Selectman Parker Lord is not running. He said during his 2019 campaign that he intended for his 12th term to be his last.

Lahm said Lord is retiring from the board after years of "great service" to the town. "Hopefully he'll remain involved in the town a little bit, but it's time to move on."

One first selectman candidate and two selectman candidates make for uncontested races on the three-member board.

Two contested races

The only contested races in this year's election involve the Board of Finance. Democrat Bob House, Republican Bruce Anderson and Alan Sheiness are competing for two, six-year seats as full members. House and Anderson currently serve as alternates.

Lahm said Anderson is a vice president at Travelers Insurance with 30 years' experience in the financial industry. Anderson has a master's degree in finance from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor's degree in economics from Colby College in Maine. He sits on various organizations and is on the board of directors of the Frederick T. Crosby Education Foundation, which supports the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education.

Kiker said Sheiness is running as a candidate in Lyme for the first time. The executive retired as a corporate controller with more than 30 years of experience from ADP Inc., an international human resources company. He serves as co-founding director and treasurer of PALS, a New York-based nonprofit that arranges free flights for medical or humanitarian needs via a network of volunteer pilots. He is also the treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust and chairman of its Finance Committee.

Also contested is the race for Board of Finance alternate, with Republican Thomas M. St. Louis and Jim Miller, unaffiliated, vying for the six-year term. Miller is endorsed by the Democrats. There are no candidates running to fill an open two-year vacancy as finance board alternate.

Mattson noted the Democrats have a candidate for almost every open position on the ballot — "and if you go back in time, that was not true in the town of Lyme," he said.

The Democrats are running candidates for 14 positions, according to endorsement information provided by the town clerk. The Republicans are running candidates for seven positions.

"I think this just continues to accentuate that the town has turned from overwhelmingly Republican to slightly Democrat, and they're willing to step forward and work for the town," Mattson said.

Lahm noted terms in Lyme are staggered, so some races are affected by minority representation rules that limit the number of people from any one party that can be on a board or commission. He pointed to the Board of Finance as an example, where there are currently four Republicans on the six-member board. The two seats up for election are held by a Republican and a Democrat.

Lahm also said the Republicans are "not going to run somebody just to run somebody."

He pointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals race, in which he is an incumbent running along with incumbent Democrat Fred Harger in an uncontested race. Lahm said the Republicans could have run another candidate but chose not to.

"Fred's a very valued member of the board," Lahm said. "Why would I want to run an inexperienced person against him, just to say I ran somebody? Then if (that candidate) wins, I lose Fred's wealth of experience."

The full slate endorsed by the DTC is made up of Steve Mattson for first selectman; John Kiker for selectman; Bob House and Alan Sheiness for Board of Finance; Jim Miller for Board of Finance alternate; Kiker for Board of Assessment Appeals; Phyllis Ross for Planning and Zoning Commission; Mary Stone and Anne Littlefield for Planning and Zoning Commission alternate; Fred Harger for Zoning Board of Appeals; Toni Phillips for Zoning Board of Appeals alternate; Stone and Laura Mooney for Library board of directors and Anna James for Region 18 Board of Education.

The RTC slate consists of Steve Mattson for first selectman; David M. Lahm for selectman; Bruce Anderson for Board of Finance; Thomas M. St. Louis for Board of Finance alternate; David J. Tiffany for Planning and Zoning Commission; Frederick B. Gahagan for Planning and Zoning Commission alternate and Lahm for Zoning Board of Appeals.

e.regan@theday.com

Editor's note: This version corrects the political affiliation of Board of Finance alternate candidate Jim Miller, who is an unaffiliated voter running with the Democratic endorsement.

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