Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams is not seeking reelection. The Democrat has served for 10 years in that role.
The Republican nominee for the position is Edward Matson. The Democrats have nominated Jean Speck. The League of Women Voters of Litchfield County recently moderated an event with the candidates at Kent Memorial Library. Matson if a former Selectman, a small business owner, and works for the DOT. Speck is a regional EMS coordinator with the state Department of Public Health and has served with other civic organizations.
Matson is president of the Kent Volunteer Fire Department while Speck is secretary.
Matson says his top priorities include work on affordable housing, Kent Center School, Town Garage, Solar Commission, Highway and Fire Department. Speck says hers are dealing with the Schaghticoke continuing to seek recognition, managing Birch Hill and other substance use disorder treatment facilities, the revitalization of sidewalks, staffing levels at the fire department and economic development.
Both say technology in Kent should be improved. Speck views high-speed internet access as a critical public utility and not a luxury because there are too many dead spots in town. She added that sometimes there's no portable emergency radio connectivity. Matson said it would by costly, but believes internet should be accessible to all residents especially to attract younger people to the community.
Even if affordable housing was being built, Matson is concerned there aren't the jobs for people to be able to afford to live in Kent. Speck believes young people want more mobility and suggested that portable or cottage housing might attract them to Kent.
The candidates were asked about the Schaghticokes continuing to pursue Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition. Speck notes that there's no current application pending. But she is concerned over the land claims and what would happen if the sewer plant were to go away. Speck wants to protect the rights of the people of Kent and fighting the claims. Matson was a Selectmen when the tribe filed their first petition for recognition. He believes there's a good group of people keeping an eye on developments. But he cautioned that they have to remain vigilant.
On the matter of the nearby Cricket Valley Energy Center being built in Dover, New York, Matson says it's going to be hard to fight something that's already built, but it's important to monitor air quality. Speck says there's a great group of citizen scientists measuring local air quality to get a baseline measurement.