Nancy Gorski is Ready to Serve
Recently elected First Selectwoman Nancy Gorksi fell in love with Killingworth when she and her husband moved here in 1999. Since that time, Nancy has dedicated herself to public service and has a list of issues she is already beginning to tackle.
Nancy ended up settling in Killingworth after looking a number of areas after getting transferred from her job in Buffalo, New York. Nancy says that after a long search she and her husband, Les, decided on Killingworth because it had the best of everything they were looking for.
“We looked all around, we looked in Glastonbury, Farmington, really all around,” says Nancy. “We looked at a couple of homes here in the Killingworth area. We certainly loved that it was rural, but not rural at the same time. You had a real sense of community here. The highlight here is that it feels rural here, but you still have a sense of community and we always appreciated that.”
That love of Killingworth led Nancy to step into public service not long after she settled in. Nancy was first elected to town office in 2003.
“I started in 2003. I ran for a recently vacated seat on the Board of Education and I won that, so I spent six years there,” she says. “After that, I did eight years of the Board of Finance and even served as chair and then I did two years as a selectman, and then decided I to step aside from politics, and took a two-year hiatus.”
Nancy’s sabbatical from service didn’t last long. Last year, she decided to run against longtime First Selectwoman Cathy Iino.
“I was approached by the Republican Town Committee to see if I would consider it. I said, ‘Yes, let’s do this.’ I really wanted an opportunity to actually debate Cathy and honestly my thought was that if I ran, I might provide her with some ideas, because Cathy had been first selectwoman for many years and one would expect that if she ran she would win, and I just wanted to bring some different ideas for the town. Then she decided she wasn’t running and here we are.”
Nancy says her staff has been incredibly welcoming and that her transition into the first selectman’s office has been smooth as a result of the cooperation from the town.
“I will say that I have a great team of resources here at Town Hall. Town employees have been excellent in bringing a relatively new selectman up to speed on what’s going on,” says Nancy. “Kudos to them for bringing me into the fold as quickly as they did.”
Nancy took office with several issues at the top of her to-do list, the most critical being recent contamination found in some wells and water sources in the town. This issue arose last spring after testing discovered that a number homes in Killingworth appear to have high levels of a plastic-based contaminant.
The culprit in this case is perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These chemicals have been designated by the federal Food and Drug Administration and state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) as probable carcinogens despite have been used ubiquitously in a number of industries since the 1940s.
PFAS contaminations are normally associated with factories producing them and also with fire stations and training centers as fire-fighting foam had traditionally used PFAS. However, the source of Killingworth’s contamination remains unclear and is a top priority for Nancy and her administration.
“For me this PFAS issue is very important. This chemical somehow got into residential and public wells here in Killingworth,” says Nancy. “The state identified last spring that there was PFAS in the area, I knew we had a serious issue with the water, especially here in our town offices. That is the one thing I am focusing on now.
“We are working with the town hydrogeologist to come in and do more sampling and design a filtration system,” she adds. “All of this costs money and the residents of the town of Killingworth did not cause this issue to happen. We need to find what possible funding sources are available, and I meet with DEEP monthly to find sources and there are a number out there and we believe that a loan and a grant can address this issue.”
The discovery of PFAS in Killingworth was the first widespread discovery in the state, and Nancy says she is working hard with state and town officials to determine the source of the contamination and to make water safe for every resident.
“DEEP is having a testing firm come out and take samples and that will start this spring to try and identify the source,” says Nancy. “We are still trying to understand where it originated from. You wouldn’t expect to find this chemical here because the firefighting foam hasn’t been used in 25e years, but it is found in so many common items it’s tough to determine a source. But it is found in so many common items—dryer sheets have PFAS, food packaging, even cosmetics have PFAS. So, the plan for this spring is to identify the source and in the mean time we have filtration systems in place for those sources that have been affected.”
Nancy says other issues she wants to address are upcoming capital projects that have been in the works for several years. Renovations to both the Town Hall offices and the volunteer firehouse are both projects Nancy is working to fund and complete.
“One is renovations to the Town Hall. We need to start putting monies aside away to help pay for these needed projects. The Town Hall has portable units, which have a short life span and it is simply time to upgrade and provide permanent space for Town Hall,” says Nancy.
“The fire station next door to Town Hall is the other. That was built in the 1970s and the trucks have only gotten larger,” she notes. “The volunteers have to work really hard to get those trucks back in just so. These volunteers work incredibly hard, and when they come back from a fire or car accident, they are really tired and yet they then have to be so meticulous in getting their equipment back in there. So the station needs renovations and we need to keep our volunteer fire companies funded and make sure we spend the money and appreciate them the way they should.”
Nancy says that the purchase of the 250-plus acre Deer Lake campground area is also a priority. The town, in coordination with a non-profit, is hoping to purchase the property and preserve it.
“We are working hard on this and we hope to have a solution to this issue. I certainly am keeping an eye on it,” says Nancy.