Nearly 200 people filled Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s auditorium on Wednesday night for the selectman debate between Democratic incumbents Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal and Republican candidate Tim Griswold.
The audience was filled with town residents including several candidates for other offices in Old Lyme.
Current Republican selectman Chris Kerr, however, was not present. Kerr submitted an opening statement, but otherwise declined to participate in the event. The decision was made to host the event in an empty seat format which gave equal time to all candidates present.
The Lyme Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce sponsored event was moderated by Connecticut Mirror Editor Beth Hamilton who asked the same ten questions of each candidate, beginning with a challenge to Reemsnyder about her time on the Connecticut Port Authority. Reemsnyder’s recent resignation from the Port Authority is the reason, Griswold said, that he decided to petition to run for office this past summer.
“I was motivated to not let the incumbent have a free ticket to be elected. I could not in good faith let the position go unchallenged,” Griswold said.
For her part, Reemsnyder urged the audience not to believe the current audit showing mismanagement of state funds at the Port Authority during her time as the chair of the finance committee.
Instead she said, “I am very proud of the work I did for the Port Authority as Finance Chair. I would dispute some of the statements about the audits. I spoke with the Port Authority members as recently as Friday morning and the audits they are conducting now are looking very good.”
The questions ranged from development on Halls Road, police services and blight to affordable housing and coastal resiliency. Hamilton gave each candidate the same opportunities to speak and rebut each other. The candidates were respectful, although clearly differed on several points.
Reemsnyder and Nosal stressed that during their administration they have led discussions to allow for the possibility of change and better prepare the town for the future including a drafted and proposed blight ordinance, the Halls Road committee and discussions with East Lyme about combining police forces.
Griswold, on the other hand, pushed for the importance of working to retain Old Lyme’s rural character. He proposed looking at alternative methods of affordable housing as opposed to large apartment buildings that do not fit in with the rest of the town and the importance of a senior living facility for the town.
The debate was recorded by The Day and will be available on local television until the election on Tuesday, November 5.