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The last of her line: Where other shoreline first selectmen begin the new year considering campaign for re-election, that’s one worry Clinton First Selectman Christine Goupil doesn’t have. With town government transitioning to a town manager/town council format at the end of her term, she’s staying focused on a few priorities as the town’s last first selectman. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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A few days ago while in her office in Town Hall, an acquaintance pointed out to First Selectman Christine Goupil the pictures of the former First Selectmen that hang in Town Hall, and the fact that Christine could very well be the last person to hold that title in Clinton.
“That was when it really hit me,” Christine says.
Due to a change to the town’s charter that goes into effect in 2019, Clinton’s form of government will change from consisting of an elected Board of Selectmen (BOS) with an elected, full-time first selectman managing town offices to a paid, appointed town manager overseen by an elected town council.
While Christine notes that the town could always vote to change back to a BOS form of government in the future, for now it appears that she will be the last first selectman in the town’s history. Christine’s journey to her current position is one that has taken her to many different locations and roles around the world.
Christine grew up in Grand Island, New York, a town Christine describes as “pretty much the exact same as Clinton.” When it was time to go to college, Christine moved to New York City, where she earned a BFA in graphic design. After her time in school, Christine worked for a company that designed street furniture for cities, such as bus shelters, kiosks, and art installations.
While in the city, Christine also made time to pursue volunteer opportunities, something she says was always an interest to her. Christine volunteered for nonprofit organizations, sometimes agreeing to help them with design work, and for an organization that allowed for disadvantaged youth from the city to go to camp.
However, while one day working at the New York Botanical Gardens, a friend mentioned an opportunity to her that would lead to what she calls one of her most memorable experiences.
At her friend’s suggestion, Christine, who says she rode horses while growing up, joined the New York City Parks Enforcement Mounted Auxiliary Unit, a volunteer unit founded in 1996 to monitor areas in New York City parks that unaccessible by vehicles to help prevent illegal or unsafe activities.
“A lot of training was required,” Christine says. “It was a real honor.”
Following her time in New York, Christine also lived in San Francisco and in London, two cities she says she heartily enjoyed living in. Of San Francisco, Christine says she enjoyed the “great lifestyle, outdoors, and culture.” Christine calls London a “very livable and well-planned city” with many neighborhood parks for relaxation.
“You get a little reprieve,” says Christine.
As much as she enjoyed the two metropolises, Christine is quick to clarify that Clinton is her favorite town she’s lived in.
“Anyone that comes to Clinton discovers how wonderful Clinton is and that we truly are the jewel of the shoreline,” she says, singling out the walkable downtown, the beach, and the marina area as favorites.
While in London, Christine says her husband Alan received a job offer back in the United States.
“We started looking for anywhere that had water,” says Christine.
Eventually, the couple found Clinton and fell in love with the town. Christine says they received a warm introduction from neighbors, which made them feel welcome.
Christine wasted no time in getting involved in town. Soon after moving to town she attended a town meeting where she stood up and asked some questions. After the meeting, a resident told her about the Downtown Revitalization Committee, and said she might be a fit on that committee. After getting her start with that committee, Christine was on the Planning & Zoning Commission for eight years. In 2017, Christine successfully ran for first selectman, winning a primary and general election.
Reflecting on her eventful first year in office, Christine acknowledges “it went by very quickly, but I like to juggle a lot of things.
“I think we’ve had a lot of positive things and I look forward to the second year,” she says. “I think it’s been wonderful the BOS has been supportive, everyone gets along.”
Christine says that while some marquee issues might generate more buzz, she likes to focus on some of the smaller priorities in town.
“It’s not so much the big things like old Morgan, it’s things like that we’re going to start focusing on seniors,” Christine says.
For the final year of her term, Christine says she is looking forward to getting a full-time town planner in place, working to find proposals for the Unilever site, and helping move the Indian River Landing project forward.
Additionally, Christine says she would like to have the town do more to address housing needs in town.
“We have a lot of people struggling to make ends meet,” says Christine.
As for her future with the town beyond 2019, Christine says “I would like to stay involved.”
Spare time these days are hard to come by for Christine, but with the time she has she says enjoys spending it with her husband, and their two children Jasper and Leo.
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