With a unanimous vote Friday morning, the Fairfield Police Commission has nominated Gary MacNamara as the town's next police chief.

MacNamara will assume the role as soon as he signs a contract with First Selectman Kenneth Flatto.

Flatto said he's pleased with the commission's decision, promising to move forward with wrapping up the contract as quickly as possible.

"I'm excited," MacNamara said Friday afternoon. "At the same time I'm humbled and appreciative of the confidence the commission, the first selectman and members of the town have placed in me."

A 22-year veteran of the department, MacNamara has served for the past two years as the department's first-ever deputy chief. He ascended to the role of "acting police chief" on May 21, following the retirement of then-Chief David Peck.

But to assume the post as chief, he'll have to establish a residence in Fairfield and register to vote here within six months, a requirement for police and fire chiefs under the town charter. Specifically, MacNamara needs to become an "elector of the town."

That provision in the town charter stalled progress for the Police Commission in hiring the chief, as all three of the candidates for the job -- top-ranking officers in the department -- reside outside of Fairfield.

The other two finalists were Capt. Christopher Lyddy, who resides in Monroe, and Capt. Donald Smith, who lives in Shelton.

MacNamara is a resident of Bethany, where he lives with his wife and three children, who are between the ages of 13 and 8. The Fairfield Citizen archives indicate that he recently also had a pony, a dog, two goats and three cats there as well.

While the chief-designee plans to establish a Fairfield residence, he doesn't intend to move his family to town. But, he said Friday, that won't affect his performance as chief.

"My commitment to providing public safety and my commitment to supporting the men and women of the police department remains as high as ever," he said. "Over the last 22 years, I feel that I've served the town with a high level of commitment and dedication and I plan on continuing to do so in my new position."

Before the commission could vote to recommend MacNamara, Town Attorney Richard Saxl sought a legal opinion from the Secretary of the State's office regarding the requirements of being a town "elector" which, Saxl said, essentially means "bona-fide" voter.

In a letter, Saxl outlined MacNamara's plan for becoming an elector in Fairfield. The letter states that MacNamara plans to rent an apartment in Fairfield, where he'll spend most days, "including periodically spending the night."

MacNamara would also change the address on his driver's license, obtain a local library card, register to vote as a Fairfield resident, have his town- and police-related mail sent to the local apartment, and establish his bank and utility accounts with the Fairfield address.

Flatto categorically denied that the town would subsidize MacNamara's move to Fairfield in any way.

"It's somebody's responsibility who wants to be chief to provide for their own housing," Flatto said. "Anyone with an interest in the position should be willing to make the necessary decisions and sacrifices."

According to Flatto, the situation is similar to how department heads and town leaders -- including himself -- choose to hold jobs in government rather than in more lucrative private-sector jobs.

"I've made that decision because I believe in public service," the first selectman said.

Flatto added that he's "very pleased" that the Police Commission nominated MacNamara for the chief's job. "I think Gary has been a superb deputy chief and we do intend to move forward as quickly as possible," he said.

MacNamara's salary as police chief has yet to be set, Flatto said. But as deputy chief, he was paid $122,288 a year, while the former chief, David Peck, was paid $138,575. Flatto said the salary for MacNamara will likely be in the low- to mid-$130,000 range.

"That's a little less than the previous chief," Flatto said, "because when you're starting a job, no matter how good you are, you have to prove that you can rise to the occasion."