Lahm becomes Lyme's new first selectman
Lyme — David Lahm, a town selectman who has served two decades on the Zoning Board of Appeals, became first selectman on Tuesday as Steve Mattson, first selectman for the past five years, formally retired.
Lahm, who was born and raised in Lyme, said he was brought up with the philosophy that "you're in it for the town." He said those who serve Lyme, whether they are on a board or commission or help in another capacity, care about the best interests of the town, not party, party politics or personal gain.
"If you're standing up before the town, you're in it because you love this town and want to see it prosper," said Lahm.
Lahm, a Republican who has been serving as third selectman, was appointed to his new role and sworn into office by Town Clerk Linda Winzer at Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, after Mattson, a Democrat, officially retired. Lahm will serve the rest of Mattson's two-year term that ends in November 2023.
Kristina White, a Democrat and the executive director of the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, was then appointed as third selectwoman on the Board of Selectmen to serve the rest of Lahm's two-year term, which also ends in November 2023.
The top spot on the three-member board is changing from a Democrat to a Republican, but the party representation on the board will remain two Democrats and one Republican.
Mattson, Lahm and White were applauded at the meeting, held at Town Hall and attended by about 20 people.
"I thank all members of the town government and the staff for their support during my tenure and I know that the Town of Lyme will be in very good hands, and I wish all of you well so thank you for the opportunity to serve our community," Mattson, 67, said while reading aloud his formal letter of resignation.
Second Selectman John Kiker, a Democrat, thanked Mattson for encouraging him to first run for selectman and teaching him how to be a selectman. Kiker said Mattson told him early on that at the end of the day, it's not about what is best for Democrats or Republicans, it's about what's best for the town and Mattson embodies that philosophy.
"I've seen him labor long and hard to ensure that this town is on solid financial and organizational footing moving forward," Kiker said. "I’m impressed by his financial and budget acumen, by his ability to keep our mill rate down and quality of life up especially during COVID."
Mattson, a Democrat, told The Day that getting the town through the COVID-19 pandemic and putting in place financial controls over the past five years to hold the line on taxes are among his proudest accomplishments as first selectman. Mattson, a retired business executive, has been first selectman since 2017 and, prior to that, was a longtime town selectman.
In his retirement, Mattson said he looks forward to going back to playing golf and traveling with his wife and hopefully his daughter as well.
Lahm, 62, a Republican, was elected to the Board of Selectman last November. A retired Army Colonel who worked in the insurance industry in Hartford for 20 years, he said he has lived in Lyme his entire life, except for some periods when he was in the military. He is married with three children. He said he has to resign as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals due to his new role as first selectman.
As first selectman, Lahm said he will continue focusing on the issues that Mattson has been doing a great job working on for the small town: affordable housing, solid waste and keeping taxes low.
In addition to her role with the land trust, White, 55, said she also serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Emergency Management Department and has participated in many different community organizations.
She said Lyme has been a big part of her life for 20 years and she's very involved with a lot of different aspects of volunteering with the town. As third selectwoman, she said she will be listening and learning but also available for everybody to speak to.
"One of the things I love about this town is the community and volunteerism, and it's all about the town of Lyme," she said during her remarks. "So for me it's about Lyme and what is best for Lyme and that's it, so I look forward to serving you and thank you so much. It's an honor."
White is believed to be the first woman to serve on the Board of Selectman since Claire Sauer, who served in the 1990s, according to town records.
White said after the meeting that having good representation is important to her, so she's pleased to be a woman in this role.
"It's exciting, but I'm excited about just serving the town," she added. "I've been doing that for such a long time."