East Lyme Republicans endorse Nickerson; Firmin says he will collect signatures to primary

East Lyme — Incumbent First Selectman Mark Nickerson secured the Republican endorsement for another term in a 155-35 vote at the Republican caucus Monday, winning against Wes Firmin.

Nickerson said Tuesday that he is "overwhelmed and honored to serve the town and be so supported" and praised the slate of candidates endorsed at the caucus.

Firmin, an insurance agent and one of the owners of his family's business, Firmin's Garage on Flanders Road, said Tuesday that he is collecting signatures to force a Republican primary in September, and, as "a last resort," he would "run independently" in the November election.

According to the secretary of the state's spokesperson, a candidate can submit separate petitions by the Aug. 9 deadline to both run in a major party primary and run as a petitioning candidate in the general election. If the candidate were to qualify for and win a primary, the general election petition then would become invalid.

Firmin said he is a lifelong East Lyme resident who is running for first selectman because he is not happy with the direction the town is going in.

"Everyone is sugarcoating how fine and dandy it is in East Lyme, but taxes are going up, people and businesses are either leaving or getting denied entry into our town and someone has to right the ship," he said.

Nickerson, a field representative and owner of two local Geico offices, said he has experience with 18 years serving the town and three years as first selectman.

"I spent many years understanding how the system works and finding efficiencies in ways to deliver services that are desired by our residents," he said. "People want to live in East Lyme. Our real estate agents tell us so, our residents tell us so, and [Monday] night's caucus overwhelmingly proved that."

Nickerson added that the same people who say the town's taxes are too high now want to spend frivolously on a primary, despite there being overwhelming support from the Republican party for him and his team to continue serving.

The Republican Town Committee on Monday also endorsed Kevin Seery, Marc Salerno and Paul Dagle for the Board of Selectmen; Albert Littlefield, John Kleinhans and Leigh Gianakos for the Board of Education; Anne Santoro, John Birmingham and Lawrence Fitzgerald for the Board of Finance; William Mather III for Board of Assessment Appeals; David McIlhenney for a two-year term on the Planning Commission; Kirk Scott, Rita Franco-Palazzo, and Thomas Fitting for four-year terms on the Planning Commission; Don Phimister and Kathryn Johnson as alternates on the Planning Commission; Matt Walker, Norman Peck III and Kim Kalajainen for the Zoning Commission, and James Liska as an alternate on the Zoning Commission.

The Republicans further endorsed Karen Galbo for town clerk, Scott Fraser for town treasurer and John McCulloch for tax collector.

The Democratic Town Committee endorsed a slate of candidates last week but did not endorse a candidate for first selectman.

k.drelich@theday.com

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