Republicans back Kiley for vacant selectman's seat

Board of Finance member Kevin Kiley was endorsed Monday by the Republican Town Committee for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen.
Board of Finance member Kevin Kiley was endorsed Monday by the Republican Town Committee for an open seat on the Board of Selectmen.Andrew Brophy

Kevin Kiley, a longtime member of the Board of Finance and former member of the Representative Town Meeting, was nominated Monday night to fill a vacant seat on the town's Board of Selectmen.

The Republican Town Committee voted 37-3, with two abstentions, to nominate Kiley to fill the GOP's seat on the three-person board. The seat became vacant two weeks ago when Selectman James Walsh resigned because of allegations he had a conflict of interest when representing private clients before the town's land-use boards.

Kiley, 54, won the nomination over Robert B. Bellitto Jr., a Board of Finance member who unsuccessfully challenged Democrat Michael Tetreau for first selectmen last November.

Tetreau and Democratic Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey, however, have the final say on filling the vacant selectmen's seat. Although they are required to appoint a Republican, as was Walsh, they do not have to accept the Republican Town Committee's recommended candidate. The Democratic selectmen could take up the appointment as early as their meeting scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Sullivan-Independence Hall.

James Millington, the RTC's chairman, said of the Demcratic selectmen's imending vote on the appointment, "They expressed they would honor and heavily consider the recommendation of the RTC."

"How's it feel winning by a landslide?" RTC member Len Benton, father of state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, called out as Kiley walked up to the podium after the committee endorsed him over Bellitto. "I hope Romney does that well."

Bellitto, who sat next to Kiley in the Education Center's conference room where the meeting took place, congratulated Kiley while the roll call vote was still taking place.

Kiley was nominated by state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and McKinney's nomination was seconded by Walsh.

Meanwhile, Walsh himself was nominated Monday night to fill Kiley's seat on the Board of Finance should Tetreau and Vahey approve Kiley for the Board of Selectmen.

In his brief acceptance speech to the RTC, Kiley said he'd worked hard on the RTM and Board of Finance to be fair-minded, open-minded and to help residents of the town. He said he had worked to keep taxes in check, reduce expenses and put financial controls in place. He said he was "very proud" to fill Walsh's shoes.

Kiley served on the RTM and its Finance Committee from 1993 to 1997 and on the Board of Finance from 1997 to present. He served as chairman of the Board of Finance for five years.

Kiley, who moved to Fairfield in 1988, is vice president of finance and administration for Management Health Solutions, a health-care firm based in Fairfield.

"I'm honored and elated to be the Republican Town Committee nominee to fill Jim Walsh's seat," Kiley said after the eeting adjourned. "Jim has done a fabulous job as selectman and I will work hard to fill his shoes ... My goal is to be a productive member of the Board of Selectmen, represent the town, work hard and make a positive contribution to Fairfield."

Kiley said his biggest accomplishments on the RTM and Board of Finance includes serving on committees that expanded tax relief for senior citizens; serving as chairman of a committee that examined management and budget problems at the Fairfield Metro railroad station; successfully arguing against a bid waiver for a five-year school bus contract, which he said saved the town more than $400,000; and helping to guide the town through the economic crash of 2008.

McKinney praised Walsh for his service on the Board of Selectmen, saying Walsh was always armed with facts when making an argument, and that while collegial, he wasn't afraid to debate in a non-partisan way. McKinney indicated Kiley shares those attributes and said Kiley had graciously stepped aside so Walsh could serve as a selectman several years ago based on the wishes of the late former Selectman Ralph Bowley. "I always appreciated that," McKinney said.

Bellitto was nominated by Board of Finance member Christopher DeWitt, and DeWitt's nomination was seconded by Roger Autuori, the Republican registrar of voters.

The RTC on Monday night also nominated Richard Santalesa, a former RTM member, to serve on the town's Conservation Commission, and Millington announced that RTC leaders had recommended Jill Kelly, a former selectman, to serve on the town's Ethics Commission. Santalesa's nomination is subject to Tetreau's approval, and Kelly's recommendation is subject to approval of the Board of Selectmen and RTM.