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Westbrook’s Democratic nominees for municipal office include George Pytlik, Jr. (left) for Board of Selectmen and Hiram Fuchs for first selectman. (Photo by Aviva Luria/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Westbrook Democrats unanimously nominated a full slate of candidates at their July 18 caucus, including challengers for the selectman and first selectman seats: Hiram James Fuchs for first selectman and George Pytlik, Jr., for selectman.
Caucus Chair Jim Crawford and Caucus Secretary Teri Gavigan oversaw the proceedings, which began with Marie Farrell nominating Democratic candidates for the Board of Finance through the Library Board of Directors in one fell swoop. Nominations were quickly closed and nominees were unanimously approved.
Chris Ehlert nominated Fuchs for first selectman, stating, “Hiram approached the Democratic Town Committee at the last commission when we were out there stomping for state leaders. He came under the tent and said there were some things that were concerning him in town about services.
“Why can’t we do more?” Fuchs asked, according to Ehlert, “And better yet, he said, ‘Shouldn’t we be doing more?’ And we all agreed that the answer was yes, we should be doing a lot more and that we all deserve better in this town.
“Hiram is a state marshal here in the State of Connecticut,” said Ehlert. “He knows what it’s like to deal with a diverse population coming from many backgrounds and as well as many different experiences that he has to deal with when he has to serve those lovely papers to people.”
Connecticut state marshals are sworn peace officers who, among other duties, serve notices of civil legal actions.
“However,” Ehlert said, “he handles that like he would handle talking to his neighbor.
“Hiram has run his own business,” Ehlert continued, “and the fact that he has a young family here—he’s in it for the long haul. He’s looking to make Westbrook a better place for all of us as we move forward.”
Fuchs accepted the nomination and explained his reasons for running.
“For years it seems the Town of Westrook has been on cruise control,” he said. “And there’s a saying in Westbrook that it’s good enough for Westbrook. Well, it’s not good enough for me.
“As first selectman,” he continued, “I will work to develop a comprehensive law enforcement plan based on proactive policing. I believe in economic development that serves the needs of town residents while preserving the small-town character of Westbrook. And I look to improve facilities and programs to better serve the needs of all residents, from seniors to young children.
“As first selectman I will work with the town committees to get the ball rolling on vital projects,” Fuchs said. “I will maintain an open door policy: I want to hear what’s on your mind. I will make transparency a top priority. There’s no funny business here. And the buck stops with the first selectman and we’ve had 12 years of the current leadership. I think it’s time for a change and I hope you do, too.”
Asked after the meeting how he thought he would appeal across party lines in a town that is traditionally dominated by Republicans, Fuchs said he believes the issues facing the town are not partisan.
“They are quality of life issues, so you don’t have to be a Republican to want good schools or a Democrat to want safe streets or low taxes,” he said. “I think these are issues that span across the full spectrum of the political divide, or political spectrum between Democrats and Republicans. So I believe the role of first selectman is to represent all Westbrook residents and I believe the changes I’m going to be proposing are going to benefit everybody.”
Zach Hayden nominated Pytlik for the Board of Selectmen, noting that Pytlik is a “lifelong resident of Westbrook and...son of a lifelong resident of Westbrook. He’s a small business owner in town and has been effectively running that business for 10 years, which is pretty impressive when you think of the fact that George is 25 years old.”
Pytlik serves on the Zoning Board and was an early member of the town’s Ad Hoc IT Committee. His father, George Pytlik, Sr. (R) has a long history of serving the town, including his current role on the Board of Finance.
“George [Jr.] represents an important and vital perspective for Westbrook and for Connecticut: that of a young generation looking to help our communities meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century,” Hayden said. “George applies pragmatic optimism in his view of Westbrook’s needs. He’ll be a selectman who is a cooperative problem solver instead of a passive shepherd of the status quo.”
Pytlik accepted the nomination with a short speech, stating that his “entire family has been involved in public service since before I was born” and that “[i]t has been ingrained in me to give back to our community for this reason.
“My experiences in construction, as a business operator, as well as attending [Ella T. Grasso Technical High School] in Groton and [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] have introduced me to people from all walks of life and backgrounds. For these reasons, I’ve learned to look past differences, such as party, race, and income,” Pytlik said. “I’ve also learned that it’s okay—in fact, important—to seek the help and opinions of those more educated than myself on the problems at hand.”
“It’s been a while since the Democratic party has had this much energy in Westbrook,” Crawford said. “I know there’s going to be a terrific campaign waged by everyone. We look forward to everybody’s support and to the friends and neighbors that you have who are interested in being better than good enough.”
The 2019 Westbrook Democratic Slate
First Selectman: Hiram James Fuchs
Board of Selectmen: George K. Pytlik, Jr.
Board of Finance: Chris Ehlert,
Katharine A. Sullivan
Board of Education: Sally J. Greaves,
Michael P. Susi
Planning Commission: Marilyn M. Ozols
Zoning Commission: Michael J. Engels, Jr.,
Vincent John Gentile
Board of Assessment Appeals: Kevin F. Sarr
Library Board of Directors: MaryJo Noonan,
Deborah Jean Lepine