Three-way race for first selectman tops Griswold ballot
By Janice Steinhagen- Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
For the second time in two years, the post of Griswold first selectman is a three-way race. Running against three-term incumbent Philip Anthony, a Democrat, are Republican Kevin Skulczyck and petitioning candidate Edmund Burke.
Anthony, a lifelong resident of Griswold, works part-time in his family’s hardware store on Main Street, which has been a local landmark for nearly 68 years. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a degree in business, he served 18 years on the Planning and Zoning Commission and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Uncas Health District and on the Children First Griswold Executive Committee.
Anthony said that he would continue to work toward stabilizing taxes in light of the slow local recovery from the nationwide economic recession, which began shortly after he took office. Pursuing state grants to fund local projects would continue to be a priority, he said, “rather than ask the residents to take an additional burden” of local taxes. He said he will continue to pursue putting a proposed town charter up to public vote, and supported retaining the town planner, who successfully navigated the town through difficult negotiations with a new tenant of the former Wyre Wynd.
Burke, who until recently worked in U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney’s office as military and veterans’ field representative, is a retired state employee from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. An Army veteran of the Vietnam War era, he has a bachelor’s degree in ecology/biology from Connecticut College and teaching credentials from Eastern Connecticut State University in secondary science education. He also served as an advisor for the TALVHI veterans’ housing project, which opened in Jewett City in June 2012.
Burke said that Griswold has many assets that it fails to fully exploit. Expanding local businesses through small-scale venues like farmers’ or crafters’ markets could spur more interest from larger stores to relocate here, he said. “If we bring in development, then we can work on taxes,” he said. While not opposed to a town charter, he said that the current proposal needs revision to more accurately reflect Griswold’s needs and character. He also said he would pursue getting the former Triangle Plastic Wire & Cable property back on the tax rolls.
Skulczyck, who retired in July 2012 from the state Department of Corrections after a 21-year career with the department, attended Mohegan Community College (now Three Rivers CC) and has lived in Griswold with his family for 23 years. During his working career, he served as both chief and union steward and worked as a corrections officer, an investigating detective and a supervising sergeant. He has been active as a coach and vice-chairman of the Jewett City Little League and with the town’s economic development and recreation commissions. In 2011, he ran unsuccessfully for town treasurer.
Skulczyck said he would support a bipartisan committee on a town charter “to explore better options for our town.” since he said residents have expressed concern about the cost of creating a town manger position. One option, he said, might include increasing the size of the Board of Selectmen. He said that if elected, he would pursue signing a contract with the Griswold Ambulance Company to keep the service operating in town, and would also work to expand organized commercial development at the town’s exits from I-395. He said that he would decline the insurance and retirement benefits included in the first selectman’s contract to save the town $24,935.
Both candidates for Board of Selectman, Democrat Steven Mikutel and Republican Donald Hill, are incumbents. After votes are tallied for first selectman, the other two spots on the board will be filled by the next two top vote-getters, with allowance made for minority party representation on the board.
On the Board of Education, the Republicans are fielding newcomer Paul Madonna and incumbent Stuart Norman, Jr., who currently serves as board vice-chair. The Democrats are represented by incumbent Laurie Sorder and newcomer Mary Elizabeth Malin.
Candidates for the Board of Finance include the current board chair, Steven Merchant, Sr., a Democrat, and fellow incumbent Peter Dorff, a Republican. New to the slate this year are Republican Richard Eighme and Democrat Gary Levy.