Karen Casey to challenge Bruce Adams in Kent

Kent Republicans have named Karen Casey and George Jacobsen to head their ticket for the November election as first selectmen and selectmen candidates, respectively.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats last week had a surprise turnaround, with longtime political stalwart Karen Garrity taking the nomination as candidate for a selectman's seat.

John Worthington had been tapped by the Democratic Town Committee to run for the seat but, in a call from the floor, Ms. Garrity took the nomination.

She comes with 12 years' experience on the Board of Education, for eight of which she served as chairman.

Ms. Garrity joins Bruce Adams, who is running for first selectman, on the ticket.

For the Republicans, Ms. Casey and Mr. Jacobsen are running on a platform that proposes hiring a town manager to oversee "the administrative minutia," leaving the first selectmen and two selectmen to handle "policy and planning" for the town.

"We agreed to run if the Republican Town Committee would agree to present the idea of a town manager to the residents," Ms. Casey said last week. "It's a change in how we are running town government right now but we think people will come to see it as a win-win."

A 35 year resident of Kent, Ms. Casey is a real estate broker who likes the idea of taking on the challenge of first selectman, if it were to mean bringing the town into a new era of administration.

"Looking back at previous years, the seletmen have been bogged down with minutia," she said, "and clogged with details that don't allow them any time to plan for the future and debate public policy."

"We are rich in human resources in this town and we think this change will bring more people out to run for office," Ms. Casey said.

Mr. Jacobsen was the first to suggest a permanent town manager.

He has served on the Board of Finance in Kent for 14 years and noted that hiring a town manager would be cost effective for the town.

Mr. Jacobsen estimates that a town manager could be hired for some $97,000 annual salary.

The first selectman and selectmen's positions might then become volunteer positions without salaries. While the town would pay about $25,000 more over the current salaries for the three-member Board of Selectmen by hiring a town manager, he and Ms. Casey speculate that, by hiring someone experienced in writing grant proposals, could bring a revenue stream to the town.

-- Susan Tuz