STONINGTON— In a competitive and unpredictable four-way race for first selectman, incumbent Danielle Chesebrough won a third term Tuesday running as an Unaffiliated candidate endorsed by the Forward Party.
As the top vote-getter, Chesebrough earned 2,479 votes, running against Democrat Laura Graham who earned 1,772 votes, Republican Bryan Bentz who earned 1,249 votes and Unaffiliated candidate Michael Spellman who earned 500 votes.
Winning the two selectmen’s seats were the next two highest vote getters: Graham’s running mate, Democrat Ben Tamsky, a former chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, with 2,066 votes; and Bentz’s running mate, Republican two-term incumbent Selectman Deborah Motycka Downie with 1,890 votes.
In Stonington, once the top contender for first selectman is named, all candidates for first selectman and their running mates compete for the two selectmen seats – which, in this election, was a seven-way race.
Incumbent Selectman June Strunk, who served two terms with Chesebrough and Downie, earned 1,433 votes, which put her in fifth place behind Graham who came in fourth. Strunk, a Democrat, ran as a petitioning candidate on the Forward Party ticket with Chesebrough after announcing in August she would not primary with the Democrats due to “slanderous comments.”
Spellman’s running mate, Frank Todisco, who garnered 466 votes, also did not earn a seat on the board.
After the vote counts were in, Chesebrough addressed the small crowd that packed the basement of Town Hall Tuesday night.
“It’s humbling. It’s an honor and privilege to represent the amazing people in the town of Stonington. And we’re going to try and do our best to not let anybody down and represent everyone. Now’s the time for coming together and moving forward together,” she said.
Chesebrough said she was excited to put together a new team with Downie and Tamsky.
“I think we have different perspectives and it’ll be healthy to balance that out and to be able to represent the whole community,” she said.
Chesebrough thanked Strunk for her years of volunteering for the town. Strunk served on the Board of Finance with two years as chair, the K-12 Building Committee, the Stonington Retirement board, the Planning and Zoning Commission and was a board president of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.
“June Strunk has done an amazing job over 30 years of service to the community and we thank her for everything she’s done,” Chesebrough said.
Downie said it had been a productive two terms while serving with Strunk and Chesebrough, and she looked forward to working with Tamsky.
“It’s been good the past four years, having three different perspectives has been wonderful. And so now we have three different perspectives again,” she said. “I’m just happy for the opportunity to continue to support the town, to finish up the projects that have started and to continue to work with Danielle. It’ll be interesting to work with Ben and I’m looking forward to it.”
Tamsky thanked Strunk for her service and said he looked forward to serving on the board.
“It’s my first election and I’m amazed at the energy expended in getting to this point, and I’m exhausted — I’m sure everybody is. And I look forward to working with these women. As Danielle put it, we’re gonna work for the best of the town,” he said.
When asked how he will apply his zoning experience in his role as selectman, Tamsky said he planned to look at the update of the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development and also phase two of the zoning regulations rewrite.