EAST LYME — With local Republican leaders standing alongside him, long-time East Lyme selectman Kevin Seery announced he would be running as a Republican for first selectman this November.
Seery has been serving as one of the town’s three elected selectmen since 2011, and has been deputy first selectman since Mark Nickerson was elected first selectman in 2015. Before that, he served 14 years on the East Lyme Board of Education, including six years as board chair.
Seery settled in East Lyme 37 years ago after he finished his service in the U.S. Navy, and he and his wife, Dawn, raised their two sons there. A retired state trooper, Seery said his background in public safety and his experiences as an elected official have prepared him to meet the challenge of being the town’s top executive.
“People say this is a great community in which to live, and they point sometimes to the coastline location and the educational system, and those are very true,” Seery said. “But I think it’s the people who live, work and visit our town that make it such an outstanding place in which to live, raise a family, and spend your retirement years. I pledge to work unceasingly to ensure that continues into the future.”
State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, joined both current First Selectman Mark Nickerson and previous First Selectman and current State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, to put their support behind Seery as the Republican candidate to succeed Nickerson.
“Our town has been blessed with incredible community-oriented leaders which has set East Lyme apart from other municipalities,” said East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election for another term. “This is a job that Kevin is passionate about, has trained for with his decades of public service, and has earned.”
Seery said that the high quality of life in East Lyme and its status as a desirable place to live show that Nickerson and Formica were effective leaders for the town. Seery served with both Nickerson and Formica on the town’s Board of Selectmen. He said it taught him that listening and communicating well with the public are essential for the chief elected official.
“You have to be a good listener, to hear everybody’s concerns and comments and be able to respond to them,” Seery said. “You can’t always come up with the resolution that they would like, but I think you have to articulate why you couldn’t do what they want you to do. I think people accept that, but they’d like an explanation.”
Seery said he is always available to talk, and wants to include as many voices as possible in the decisions the town and Board of Selectmen are making. He said one of the first moves he would make if elected first selectman would be to call for a charter revision, which he likened to the town’s “Constitution.”
Seery said he would appoint a bipartisan, “fully inclusive,” charter revision commission to hold public hearings and seek community input to propose changes to the charter for the first time since 2009.
He said a charter revision would be a good avenue to gather input and to evaluate proposals that have already been raised in the community, like setting aside money every year for preserving open space. It would also give the community the chance to raise ideas, rather than everything coming out of the board of selectmen.
“I think you empower a charter revision committee to go out, do the research, and come back with recommendations after hearing from the public over a period of time,” Seery said. “And I think emerging from the pandemic is a perfect time in which to look at how we can make a great town even better.”
Niantic’s Main Street has done relatively well in weathering the COVID pandemic, and the crowd there over the sunny spring weekend showed that, according to Seery, who said that the town’s share of federal stimulus funding could be an opportunity to make the town even better.
Seery outlined a number of possible needs. He said that Care & Share, the local all-volunteer food pantry, could use a few refrigerators. The water and sewer systems are aging and need work done so that water and sewer customers aren’t left paying for all of those improvements with higher rates. Federal funds could also be spent on extending sidewalks on some town roads, said Seery.
“This is where you empower members of the community to be on these [charter revision] committees and come back with the recommendations,” Seery said.
East Lyme Democratic Town Committee Chair Jason Deeble said the Democrats have a candidate selected for first selectman, and that an announcement is imminent.
“Kevin is a great guy, and we look forward to having a civil exchange with him about the ideas that are best for East Lyme,” Deeble said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a comment from the East Lyme Democratic party.