Durham First Selectman Laura Francis has announced plans to run for reelection this fall. Incumbent selectmen John Szewczyk and Thomas Hennick also are seeking reelection.
Francis, a Republican, has served as First Selectman since 2007 and will be running for a fourth term. She previously served as town clerk, for 10 years, and was named Connecticut’s Town Clerk of the Year during that time.
“I have been honored to serve the people of Durham as their First Selectman,” Francis said in a statement. “I have strived to make Durham a better place for all of our citizens to live and raise their families.”
Francis said she is proud of several accomplishments during her tenure, including improvements to infrastructure, the management of town employees, and savings found in the use of grants and restructuring.
“I am especially pleased, that after more than three decades, a waterline is being constructed from Middletown that will provide clean drinking water to residences along Main Street and the abutting area that have suffered well water contamination,” Francis said, noting that this is happening with cooperation from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and several state departments at “little to no cost to our taxpayers.”
She also referred to road improvement projects on Higganum Road, Coe Road, Maiden and Pickett lanes and others, which have been financed by “millions of dollars of grants” she pushed to receive from various state and federal programs.
“I believe I have obtained more state and federal grants for road and other infrastructure improvements during my terms in office than any of my predecessors,” Francis said.
Francis said her tenure has come during a time in which the state’s economy has been in decline and because of this, she has had to balance the “needs and wishes of Durham’s citizens against what we could reasonably afford,” and is happy to see a decrease in property taxes for the second consecutive year.
Francis, a Providence College graduate, thanked all the citizens who give their time and expertise to the town, especially those who serve on boards and commissions, as well as those involved in the town’s civic, social and recreational activities.
“Without the steady involvement of volunteers we would not be able to hold the line on town expenses or accomplish nearly as much as we do,” Francis said.
Francis is a director of the Durham Fair Agricultural Association and the Durham Fair Foundation. She is a member of the Durham-Middlefield Exchange Club and Local Wellness Coalition and participates in many regional activities on behalf of the Town of Durham such as serving as a director of the Council of Small Towns (COST) and Chairman of the DEMHS Region 2 Emergency Planning Team and an appointee of former Governor Malloy to the State of CT Police Officer Standards and Training Council.
Franics is running with fellow selectman John Szewczyk, Town Clerk Kim Garvis and Treasurer Wendy Manemeit. Szewczyk will be running for a fourth term.
Szewczyk has been on the board since 2007.
“He is widely considered the most fiscally responsible individual in town government, helping implement cost-saving measures that have saved millions of dollars for Durham taxpayers,” Bill LaFlamme, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, said in a statement.
Szewczyk is a Sergeant in the Hartford Police Department, where he has served since 2002. He is also President of the Hartford Police Union, representing over 400 members.
Szewczyk is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford and of the University of Connecticut MBA program.
Selectman Thomas Hennick will also be seeking reelection, for his first full term on the board. He was appointed to the board in 2017 after the elected selectman stepped down for medical reasons.
Hennick, a Democrat, previously served on the Regional School District 13 Board of Education, for 10 years, from 2002 to 2012. He was chairman the last five years of his time on the board.
Hennick is the Public Education Officer with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.
The municipal election is scheduled for Nov. 5.