SHERMAN — Two years ago, Selectman Don Lowe lost his race for first selectman to Republican incumbent Clay Cope by just 80 votes of the more than 1,300 cast.

But while losing that race, the Democrat garnered enough votes to become selectman. He hopes his performance as selectman will sway enough voters to elevate him to first selectman in 2017.

He said his hawkish approach to budgeting has saved taxpayer dollars, ending a string of budget increases totalling 20 percent in the four years before he took office.

“I think calling attention to the budgeting process kept the budget low,” he said.

Running for his fourth term, Cope said he has helped put Sherman “on a very solid path” by reducing the town’s debt and promoting important projects the town can afford, and hopes voters will decide to stay the course.

Over the past six years, Cope said, he has helped complete a emergency services facility and overseen upgrades to town facilities, including the senior center, library and public works buildings — all without increasing the public debt.

“All of my projects have been pay-as-you-go,” Cope said.

Cope has again enlisted selectman Bob Ostrosky as his running mate.

“We have 50 years combined corporate experience, and look at everything as a business,” he said. “We’ve made sure we’re living within our means.”

Lowe, a musician and adjunct professor of English who served two terms as selectman from 2004 to 2008, said he would better manage town employees and volunteers if he were at the helm.

“There is a disconnect between the first selectman’s office and town services,” he said, owing in part to “poor communication skills and poor follow-through” from the first selectman’s office.

“We have many openings on our boards and (poor communication) plays a role in that,” Lowe said.

Communication skills are his strength, added Lowe, whose running mate is Kevin Keenan.

Lowe pledged to support the Candlewood Lake Authority, which he thinks is being undermined by New Fairfield officials.

Another priority is to help seniors, he added.

The town’s median age is 48.2 years old — higher than most towns in the region, according to census figures.

“I would like (the senior center) to get more attention and funding,” Lowe said, adding he would hire another part-time employee.

Cope said helping Sherman’s seniors “age in place” has long been a priority of his, and is one of the reasons he should be re-elected.

The town is looking into property tax deferments for seniors, has relaxed restrictions so seniors can build “granny pods” on their properties and has invested in the senior center.

Cope has procured a van and a car for the center, and expanded the hours of the center’s driver to help town seniors erly get around.

“I’ve made this job my life,” Cope said. “I’ve devoted myself to this town and the region.”

blytton@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3411; @bglytton