Fire commissioner eyes top Guilford seat

Published: Thursday, May 28, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Fire Commissioner Ken Wilson, who lost the race for first selectman to incumbent Carl Balestracci in 2007, has announced that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for the position again this year.

The Republican Town Committee is still in the process of interviewing candidates and receiving applications for positions, Committee Chairman Jim O’Keefe said. The group plans to announce its slate later this summer, with the caucus scheduled for July 28.

“I’m seeking the candidacy because this town needs new leadership,” Wilson said Wednesday. “There’s a demand out there in our town for change and I want to provide the voters out there in the town of Guilford with an alternative.”

Wilson, 56, is a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners and former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. He is a retired manager with AT&T. He graduated from Guilford High School in 1970 and has two degrees from Albertus Magnus College.

Wilson said he decided to run for the position again because of what he called a “lack of leadership and mismanagement in the town.” In 2007, Balestracci won the first selectman seat over Wilson by a vote of 3,353 to 2,849.

“I believe there needs to be transparency in town government and also open up the lines of communication between the town departments internally and externally with the voters and the citizens in the town of Guilford,” he said.

O’Keefe said that Wilson has already filed an application seeking the Republican Town Committee’s nomination.

“Ken, a personal friend, is a lifelong resident of Guilford, has a distinguished record of civic involvement and brings promise of new and refreshing ideas on how to best manage our town in the years to come,” O’Keefe wrote in an e-mail. “I have no doubt that Ken’s service to our community will be exemplary.”

One of his first goals would be “fiscal responsibility,” Wilson said, including building up the town’s fund balance. Another focus would be economic development that is in keeping with Guilford’s historic character, he said.

Balestracci, who has been first selectman since 2005 and also held the position from 2001 to 2003, declined to comment Wednesday.

The full-time first selectman position pays about $95,000 a year.

The Democratic Town Committee recently announced that it is also interviewing candidates for elected positions for the November election.

For the first time this year, candidates for seats on the Board of Selectmen will run for four-year terms, following voter approval of a charter revision last year that increased the terms from their former length of two years.

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