Political Issues Across Townlines

ELHS Political Issues Club sits down with First Selectman Candidates in the leadup to Election (Before Nov. 2)

East Lyme:

STUDENT SUBMISSION: JAMES CHEKAL

Political Issue members with Candidate Kevin Seery.

This election season in East Lyme features a competitive race for First Selectmen, so in the countdown to Election Day, the ELHS Political Issues Club interviewed the potential candidates.

The Candidates are Democrat, Camille Alberti and Republican, Kevin Seery. Ms. Alberti is the Board of Finance Chair and Mr. Seery, the First Deputy Selectmen.

They have broadly similar platforms: supporting universal pre-k, and the continuation of police body-cameras. They are also in favor of setting up committees to review the town charter, particularly surrounding the method for selecting the Tax Collector and Town Clerk.

Although both candidates agreed that a monument to honor the Niantic tribe should be erected in town, Mr. Seery would prefer to not use municipal funds saying, “I believe the people of East Lyme are willing and able to raise the money for public goods like that like in the case of the Miracle League field.”

Both were in favor of “transparency in government,” but it was Ms. Alberti, who was more forceful in her assertions saying, “It is a top priority of mine that we increase our communication with the public through social media and online forms as well as traditional methods.”

Political Issue members with Candidate Camille Alberti.

The biggest difference between them was their approach to the handling of the Public Safety Complex. The building was purchased by the town in 2018 following the endorsement of the proposal by current First Selectmen, Mark Nickerson. After purchasing the building, costs would likely overrun and the roof would need to be replaced.

Ms. Alberti painted the process as being pushed through, giving the people of East Lyme inadequate time and inaccurate facts about the cost of the project and the condition of the property.

Mr. Seery downplayed the issue, saying that although the project may have been slightly rushed, that it was an overall success.

Talking to Ms. Alberti and Mr. Seery was incredibly illuminating about the way municipal government works in East Lyme.

Salem:

STUDENT SUBMISSION: TED BERGMAN

With the town of Salem’s current First Selectman Kevin Lyden stepping down, the community faces an election to decide its next municipal head executive.

Candidate Hugh McKenney
from Salem

Either Democratic candidate Hugh McKenney or Republican candidate Ed Chmielewski will step into the position Lyden has held for 12 years.

Both candidates presented themselves as mostly nonpartisan with several differences. Both men are members of the Board of Selectmen, with Chmielewski as the current Acting First Selectman.

Inspired by his father who once served in public office, McKenney expressed that “giving back to the community has been instilled in my family blood.”

McKenney noted that he would “listen to people” and not change much within the town’s government during the beginning of his term. McKenney’s main objectives are to unite the various Boards of the town, and make sure the Boards “stay in their assigned lanes.”

McKenney urges to lead the town in “planning for the future” instead of planning in the short term, going from “budget to budget.” He also floated new ideas such as, installing solar panels on the school’s roof and carports at the blacktop behind the school.

Chmielewski is a retired police officer, a former member of the US Army National Guard, and has served on the Board of Education for eight years.

Candidate Ed Chmielewski,
running for Salem.

Endorsed by current First Selectman Kevin Lyden, Chmielewki said he would make “no earth-shattering” changes in his administration compared to Lyden’s. He plans to “enhance lines of communication.”

Both candidates strongly support Salem’s agreement with East Lyme to send their high school students to ELHS. Both proposed the idea of expanding broadband with recent federal funds given to municipalities.

Chmielewski says he stands out because he is already integrated into the system; he knows how the various Boards of the town work, and he has experience in many of them.

McKenney prides himself in “treating people with respect and dignity.” He calls himself a “workhorse,” determined to solve problems. McKenney argued that Chmielewski has lots of titles and commitments, but is too busy to follow through with those responsibilities.

Overall, both candidates have a long history of involvement in the town of Salem, hold significant amounts of leadership experience, and agree on most issues. McKenney has an arrangement of ambitious ideas, and Chmielewski aims to mainly follow in Lyden’s footsteps.

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