February 25, 2020

See Video of Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s Debate, Read Full Report

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (D), who is running again for the position in November.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman and 2019 First Selectman Republican challenger, Tim Griswold.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce hosted a debate between the candidates for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen last Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.

First Selectman candidates Bonnie A. Reemsnyder (D, incumbent) and Timothy C. Griswold (R), and Selectman candidate Mary Jo Nosal (D, incumbent) were present. Chris Kerr (R, incumbent) did not attend the event but submitted an opening statement, which was read by Chamber President Rich Shriver.

The other three candidates all gave opening and closing statements, and answered questions posed by Elizabeth Hamilton, Executive Editor for CT Mirror, the event moderator. The questions were selected by a committee comprising Shriver, Hamilton and Olwen Logan, publisher of LymeLine.com, the event sponsor.

Visit this link for a full report of the event by Mary Biekert of The Day and published Oct. 24 on theday.com.

Visit this link to view a video recording of the debate made by The Day.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls at Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available through the Town Clerk.



  1. Bill Folland says

    The story behind the story:

    I have it on reliable sources that the reason for the no show was because of republicans perceived bias by some of the organizers concerning questions and communication between the organizers and the candidates. My opinion on this unfortunate event is as follows.

    This debate with an empty seat format should have been canceled once it was known that Republican Selectman Kerr would not be attending. If the decision to continue was made the format should have been changed to include only the two candidates whom wee present and running for the office of first selectman. Continuing in the empty seat format gave an unfair advantage to the two incumbent democratic selectmen over the one republican challenger. So much for good government.

    Not only was the moderator of the debate at fault here but also the democratic candidates whom must of seen this as an unfair format but then again we’ve seen improper behavior in this arena before.

    • Thomas D. Gotowka says

      Bill: With further reflection, – You and Mr. Kerr may be on to something here. Many have suspected Russian involvement in the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee. Do you also think that the Chamber of Commerce is a tool of Vladimir Putin?

    • While I have heard several reasons for Chris’s decision not to participate in the debate, this one is new to me. It does not really matter what his reasoning was at the time or is now, the fact is that it was a planned non-participation.

      As President of the Chamber of Commerce and traditional host of these Board of Selectman Debates, it was my decision to accommodate an empty seat format and all decisions related to revision or further clarification of the longstanding, established process were mine as well.

      Let’s be very clear that all criticism of the debate format and structure rest with me and Chris.

      We do not have a precedent for this kind of absence in our debates to consider so I looked to inspiration and guidance from published materials from the League of Women Voters. While feedback from both parties was considered, the integrity of the process was of the highest priority, and in my opinion, neither party was accommodated to manipulate the process beyond the actions of one candidate not participating.

      The only person who had control over the appearance of an unfair debate was Chris himself. To change the format of the debate in later stages of the planning process as a result of his lack of participation would clearly have been a capitulation and empowerment, thus corrupting the process through an act of omission.

      I have already reached out to the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut and will be seeking their involvement in any future activities such as this. These problems with the debate process were unanticipated and I believe it is critical to preserve a process outside the influence of partisan politics. The voters of the community deserve to be able to hear directly from their Board of Selectman candidates.

  2. Elizabeth Rubitski says

    Mr. Folland,
    Firstly, if you are correct, it concerns me greatly that a candidate wouldn’t show up because he didn’t like the questions. Secondly, your explanation of the absence is difficult to believe considering the debate opened with Selectwoman Reemsnyder responding to questions about the Port Authority. This was followed by questions around the Halls Road improvement initiative and the sewer initiative to name a couple. How could those be construed as biased?
    Something else that concerned me was Mr. Griswold’s error(s) on the actual $ amounts spent by the town thus far on some of these initiatives. He is currently Treasurer of the finance committee if I am not mistaken.
    The Griswold/Kerr team signs advertise “Absolute Clarity”. If that is the kind of clarity we can expect, I can only say, no thank you.

  3. Mary Jo Nosal says

    Hi Bill,

    Your opinion aside, in fact, the incumbents did not know which candidates would be present until that evening. We followed the rules as presented at the debate that evening. The debate was filmed and has been widely shared. An esteemed editor was the moderator.
    Bill, I believe good government requires officials who prepare for debates as we do for Selectmen meetings, and I believe voters saw that at the debate.

    Please vote for the team that will show up for Old Lyme, everyday. Vote for Row A on November 5th.

  4. Bill Folland says

    I would ask, and believe we all have the right too, for Selectman Kerr to account for his absence. I also believe that ” those republicans” who saw perceived bias should step forward and publicly account for their concerns. The whispers and misinformation out their on this issue should see the light of day.

    I do stand by, as many others do, for my suggested change in format and the acknowledgment that the incumbent democratic selectmen should have seen their unfair advantage with the open seat format.

    In reference to Mr. Gotowka comments all i will say is that they are out of place and unworthy of a response. The comments sounded like a tweet from Pennsylvania Avenue.

    • Thomas D. GOTOWKA says

      Bill: My comment was intentionally outrageous and satirical, submitted in an effort to de-fuse yours; which I had assumed was also drafted in a similar manner. Re Pennsylvania Avenue; the FTC?

  5. Bill Folland says

    Mrs. Rubitski
    Tim Griswold is the Town Treasurer not the treasurer of the Finance Committee, there is no such position in our town government. The role of the Town Treasurer does not include over-site of capital projects, this is the responsibility of the towns Finance Director and Board of Finance.

    As to his misstatement on the dollars spent on the Halls Road Master Plan. The take away is that the town should not be spending money on a master plan that a private developer typically funds.His position that a town should provide only the regulations ( zoning laws) that allow private investment for projects of this type. He also stated his support for an improved roadway and sidewalks. Hope you were listening with an open mind.

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