Read, Hawley to vie for Bridgewater leadership

Bridgewater will soon have a new first selectman.

Longtime chief executive Bill Stuart will step down at the end of the year after three decades at the helm.

The race is on to replace the Democratic first selectman.

Republicans are backing Board of Finance Vice Chairwoman Nancy Hawley.

The Democrats are pinning their hopes on Curtis Read, who presently holds a seat on the Board of Selectman.

Monday's Republican caucus at Burnham Library proved to be a standing-room-only event. The mood was electric as Hawley took the endorsement.

"I am honored to have been elected by the Republican caucus," Hawley said. "I look forward to leading this team in creating a government that is inclusive, transparent and free of conflict of interest."

"We need an end to divisiveness and bitterness and return to honest, ethical government," Hawley said. "We need to get beyond FBI, Attorney General and DEEP investigations."

"Bridgewater is a beautiful town," she added, "and that's what we want our neighboring towns talking about."

Hawley and her husband, David, have lived in Bridgewater since 1999. They have three children.

She has served on the Board of Finance for four years, two of them as chairwoman. Her background is in bank management.

Hawley's running mate for selectman is Leo Null, a Democrat. He and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Bridgewater since 1977.

Null is chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission and has been a building official in Danbury for almost 30 years.

Incumbent selectman Ed Bennett announced he will not seek another term. He threw his support behind Hawley in her first selectman bid.

"I am delighted to support Nancy," Bennett said. "We need this change in the town. It's high time we have it."

At Tuesday's Democratic caucus, Read garnered the endorsement. He has the backing of Stuart.

"With Curtis running, there's a bright future ahead for the town," Stuart said. "I've been waiting for someone to come along who can keep moving the town forward. With his experience and business knowledge, Curtis will do just that."

Read is completing his first four-year term as selectman. He has lived in Bridgewater since 1981.

He is a past chairman of the Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commission, on which he served for 26 years. He has been chairman of the Northwest Conservation District since 1999.

Read owns a hydro technology business in New Milford.

"We have a great team on our slate," Read said. "My running mate for selectman, Alan Brown, is a fresh face, knowledgeable on school issues and capable."

"Bill (Stuart) is leaving the town in great condition," Read said. "We have a strong community that is the envy of the towns around us and I want to keep it that way. We have something very special here."

Brown and his wife, Michelle, and their two sons have lived in Bridgewater for eight years.

He is chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, vice chairman of the Region 12 Board of Education and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Bridgewater Congregational Church.

Browne is currently co-founding a media production company focusing on promoting socially responsible corporate initiatives.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322