Griswold First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck has announced he will seek a third term as the town’s top leader, a decision the Republican made in the midst of his first term as the state representative from the 45th House district.
Skulczyck is not the first Eastern Connecticut politician to serve in the state General Assembly while holding a top municipal post.
State Sen. Cathy Osten, D- 19th District, is also the first selectman in Sprague. Preston First Selectman Bob Congdon also served a term in the General Assembly during his tenure in Preston.
Skulczyck said he has assured residents of the towns he represents that working simultaneously as a state representative and first selectman won’t take away from either job.
“The additional role is making me a better municipal leader,” Skulczyck said of serving in Hartford. “I have learned how the state functions and it has helped me see how well our town runs.
“I can understand concerns and I’ve reached out to all my towns. People know that I give 110 percent and they know that I love my job.”
The freshman representative was elected last November to a term that ends in November 2018.
Osten, who has served as state senator since 2013 and has been Sprague’s first selectman since 2007, agreed that the two roles can complement each other.
Osten said being a first selectman has helped her connect better with her constituents and represent them at a state level.
“There are definite benefits of having the perspective of being a local official. It reminds you of what’s important for the state in the future,” Osten said.
Daniel Rovero, a Democrat, who has served as state representative from the 51st District since 2010, sees it differently.
Rovero served seven terms as mayor of Putnam, from 1991-2005, said he would never do both jobs at the same time because he would have “shortchanged Putnam.”
“There is just no way to fill both roles at once,” Rovero said. “Even having been an ambitious young man who used to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, I know that it wouldn’t have been possible to fill both roles and do them well at the same time.”
Rovero pointed to the conflicts of interest that might arise.
“If there were a grant up for both Putnam and Killingly, of course as mayor of Putnam you would push to have Putnam receive the grant,” he said. “I couldn’t believe anyone who would say that they would do so otherwise.
And he questioned priorities.
“Who would you be worrying for? He asked. “Would you be worrying over people in the state of Connecticut or for the people in your town?”
Skulczyck claims he has stood by his promise to represent all of his towns.
“I know that I can represent each of my town’s fairly and appropriately while also representing my town,” Skulczyck said.
Ken Willey, of Griswold, who supports Skulczyck in his decision to run for first selectman again, said he trusts…