Election Commission Clears Portland Selectman in Residency Dispute

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PORTLAND — The State Enforcement Election Commission has dismissed a complaint against Selectman Michael Pelton, concluding that Pelton is a town resident and eligible for elected office.

About a week before the November election, town officials including the first selectman and the registrars of voters received an anonymous letter claiming that Pelton, a Republican candidate for reelection, was no longer a resident of Portland. The claim was based on a page from his wedding website, which asked guests to mail wedding gifts to an address in Wolcott, which was described as the couple’s home.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Kristy Fuller said she was advised by the commission and the secretary of the state’s office to file a complaint based on the information.

An order of dismissal dated Dec. 20 notes that Pelton told the commission he had been the subject of a similar anonymous complaint in 2016, when he divorced his former wife and moved out of the home they shared in Portland. For this reason, he said, he was “careful to maintain a dual residency” after his second marriage last year. Although Pelton and his new wife share a home in Wolcott, he maintains an apartment in Portland. 

According to the document, Pelton also said he served as an elected official for 14 years in Portland, owns a martial arts studio in town and has participated in the community in other ways. 

During the commission’s Dec. 20 meeting, attorney William Smith noted that Pelton had provided proof-of-residence materials, including banking statements, education certificates, probate court records and a marriage certificate, all of which were associated with his address in Portland. 

“After investigation, it was determined that the respondent always maintained an intent to reside in Portland,” Smith told the commission. 

Pelton told CT Examiner on Tuesday that he wasn’t surprised the complaint had been dismissed. While he found it “upsetting” that the complaint had reached the commission, he said he was happy to see the system working as it should. 

“It was nice to see that election officials take these things seriously,” Pelton said. “It was a happy ending to what I thought was just kind of BS because of the anonymity of it all.” 

Fuller told CT Examiner she trusted that the commission did their due diligence, and was happy that the complaint was resolved quickly. 

“I trust that [the commission] did their research and came to the legally correct conclusion,” she said. “I’m glad that this was resolved quickly so our town can resume business as usual. [Pelton] seems like a nice guy and I’m relieved that this resolved quickly for him and his family.”


Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.

e.otte@ctexaminer.com