With a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen created by Michael Kaelin’s recent resignation, the members of the BOS now have to find a volunteer to replace him. They’ll consider candidates presented by each of the town’s political parties, the Democratic Town Committee and the Republican Town Committee (RTC), as well as any unaffiliated candidates who submit their names for consideration.
The RTC will be meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, June 12, to officially endorse a candidate to submit to the BOS. [Scroll down for more on the RTC choice.] But the Wilton Democrats have already chosen their candidate, nominating Ceci Maher last Tuesday, June 5.
Maher is the executive director of Person-to-Person, the Norwalk- and Darien-based non-profit agency that provides emergency help to Fairfield County residents in need of financial and material assistance. A 30-year resident of Wilton, Maher has been considering putting her name in contention for this position for the last few years. She went to the Women’s Campaign School at Yale in 2015 as one of the first steps–always, she says, with the intention to put what she learned in use locally.
“This was before the Presidential election, I want to make that clear. This is not something that is coming out of a desire to respond to the current presidency, this is something that I’ve been thinking about in terms of giving back for years now. I have talked in the past with [Democratic selectwoman] Deb McFadden to ask what does it entail and I feel as though, my children are all grown, they’re gone, and yes I’m busy with work but I feel as though there is more, I have more time I can put in another direction.”
Maher has led Person-to-Person since 2005, an experience she says makes her very familiar with how to do more with less.
“I was just thinking, “Oh gosh, this is what I do in my day job.” We’ve been cut by the state, we’ve had less resources to work with, I’m very familiar with doing it. I don’t think that that is a reason in and of itself to do it if we can come up with better solutions. Just saying that we’re cut and therefore we must cut, we’ve got to come up with solutions to these problems. I’m well placed to contribute to that conversation.”
In Maher’s view, the state’s financial situation is the biggest issue facing Wilton.
“It’s the same issues facing all of our towns in Fairfield County–the status of the state and funding and the increased pressure that that puts on our towns when we do not get that kind of funding. Like being cut on the schools and other areas and having to make up the difference or stop services. So that’s a really important thing and I think Michael Kaelin spoke to that in his resignation,” she says.
Before her 20 years of non-profit experience, she was a buyer at Lord & Taylor, something she says adds a dimension to what she would bring to the position.
“I can bring both that corporate, business and non-profit awareness to the Board of Selectmen. I am very aware of what’s happening in the communities that Person-to-Person serves and that also informs how I would think about what’s happening in our town versus what’s happening in other towns.”
As for what she’s been involved with in Wilton, Maher lists several organizations.
“I have been on the PTA Council and I ran Minks to Sinks as [both] the chairperson and assistant chairperson. And I sat on the ABC (A Better Chance of Wilton) Board for years. I’m still actively involved with ABC–this past year I was the college coach to one of the boys. And this past year I’ve been on the Board of Trustees at the Wilton Library, nominated by the Democratic Town Committee to sit on that Board as a Board of Selectmen representative,” she says.
Maher points out that during her time on the ABC Board, she worked with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who was ABC president at the time. “We always worked incredibly well together, I’m very comfortable working with her and I think it would be a good fit.”
That’s the most important quality Maher says that she’ll bring to the BOS.
“What I’ve always attempted to do in all of the work I’ve ever done, is bring disparate voices together to try and come to a solution. I really believe in the work of community, I think that people working together are far more effective than being split and standing on their ideals. Those are all parts of what I would attempt to do in the work that I would want to do on the Board of Selectmen,” she says, adding, “I would just want to work with Lynne to help any other select people to help move the town forward.”
The RTC will choose its candidate at its meeting tomorrow night.
Shortly after GMW broke the news of Kaelin’s resignation, Josh Cole–the next highest vote getter in the 2017 BOS race–confirmed that he’s still interested in serving on the BOS and has asked for the RTC’s endorsement.
Cole is likely to get his party’s support as well, judging by what William Lalor, the chair of the RTC, said at the time.
“Josh is a friend of mine and a smart, very capable professional. I think he would make a fine addition to the Board of Selectmen, and Josh has my 100% support. It does seem from my conversations in the past few days that Josh has a lot of support in the RTC. We will take up the issue formally at our regular June meeting on Tuesday, June 12, and it is possible others may want to be considered. But I think Josh is the right person at the right time.”