OLD LYME — In a stunning outcome to a widely-watched race, Republican candidates swept every competitive race in Old Lyme, and returned Tim Griswold to office as First Selectman after an eight year hiatus, beating incumbent Democrat Bonnie Reemsnyder who had been on the board since 2003 and First Selectman since 2011.
The town’s voter turnout was the highest in the state at about 56 percent. With 3223 votes cast, the turnout was also 453 votes higher than the 2,770 votes cast in 2017.
Griswold ousted Reemsnyder in a margin of 1,774 to 1,403 votes, or 55.8 percent to 44 percent, reflecting a solid margin seen across nearly all of the party races.
An initially reluctant candidate who petitioned to appear on the ballot in the wake of Reemsnyder’s forced resignation as chair of the Connecticut Port Authority in July, Griswold attributed his win to a “really good slate of candidates” and “a lot of good hard workers to push and push” as well as a “wonderful” campaign manager, Jordanne Anderson.
After his victory was announced, Griswold commented that “unfortunately Mrs. Reemsnyder had the spectre of the port authority over her.”
He said his administration will have an open door policy and he’ll begin his administration with trying to “quickly assess what the hot buttons are and get people’s input.”
The race included the major upset of longtime Zoning Commission chair Jane Cable, a Democrat, who lost to newcomer Republican Michael Miller in a race that was only slightly closer than the others. Cable earned 1,366 votes, or 46 percent, and Miller earned 1,609 votes, or 54 percent. Cable will remain on the commission until 2020 when the five-year seat will turn over to Miller.
For a five-year term on the Zoning Commission beginning in 2019, newcomer Republican Tammy Tinnerello also ousted incumbent Democrat Harvey Gemme.
Unaffiliated candidate Nancy Hutchinson, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, who was endorsed by the Republican party, was re-elected to a five-year term beginning in 2019, edging out Democrat Mara Lowry by 1,616 to 1,357 votes. ZBA alternate Stephen Dix, a Republican, also won a five-year term on the board beginning in 2020, beating Democrat Kathleen Tracy 1,558 to 1,389.
Reflecting similar margins, Planning Commission incumbents Steven A. Ross and chair Harold Thompson, both Republicans, beat newcomer Democrats Alexander Klose and Jim Lampos.
The unrelenting Republican victories included a sweep of the Board of Education, with Suzanne Thompson, Jennifer Miller and Steven Wilson winning the three available seats, beating out Democrats Sarah Bowman, Lorianne Panzara-Griswold and Jason Kemp.
In the Board of Finance race, Republican incumbents J. David Kelsey and Janet G. Sturges, with 1,695 and 1,768 votes respectively, beat Democrat incumbent Anna S. Reiter and newcomer David A. Rubino, with 1,367 and 1,361 votes respectively, representing, again, about a 55 to 45 percent margin.
In a three-out-of-four choice for Board of Finance alternate, the only Democrat who won a seat was incumbent Adam S. Burrows, who came in third behind Republicans Judith Read, an incumbent, and Matthew Olson, a newcomer. As the fourth-highest vote-getter, Democrat Craig Taliento did not win a seat.
By default, two other Democrats also claimed seats. Running for Selectman in a field of two, incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Nosal came in second behind incumbent Republican Christopher Kerr. For town treasurer, Democrat Michael Reiter became the winner because opponent Timothy Griswold won the First Selectman’s seat.
Republicans Devin Carney and Sherry Johnston ran unopposed and won seats as alternates on the Zoning Board of Appeals, with one seat remaining empty. In addition, Republican David Evers Jr. ran unopposed and won a seat on the Board of Assessment Appeals.
This story has been updated on 11/6/2019 to reflect the latest elections results, and to clarify that Nancy Hutchinson was endorsed by the Republican party, but is unaffiliated.