Clay Cope is seeking a third, two-year term as first selectman in Sherman.

A Republican, the incumbent first was elected in 2011, ousting Democrat Andrea O'Connor.

In 2013, he easily won re-election against two opponents, Democrat Chris Jellen and Independent David Hopkins.

This year, he is announcing early his intention.

The Republican Town Committee and Democratic Town Committee will announce their slates of candidates in July.

"The staff at town hall wanted to know if I was running," Cope said. "It's wonderful to have their support. Of course, they've worked through transitions before."

"They will respond admirably if another first selectmen comes into office," he added.

Sherman Democrats hope to see that as a reality.

"We're working with an exciting field of potential candidates right now," said DTC Chairman Joel Bruzinski. "We're concentrating on running a positive, upbeat, facts-oriented campaign. People in town want a positive, small-town campaign season."

Cope acknowledges he is not a native to the town. He moved to Sherman in 1995 after several years of having a summer home in Sherman while working in Manhattan.

He hails from Dallas, Tx., where he was co-owner in a dress factory and fashion house.

"I'd never lived in a small town before," Cope said. "I fell in love with the wonderful rural character here. It gets into your blood."

Cope prides himself on having a "strong skill set" for managing projects.

He served on the Sherman Library's Board of Directors and chaired the library's building committee for its expansion until he took the first selectman's role.

His approach as first selectman has been "hands on," he said.

"I see myself as following the history of first selectmen in the town who were hands on, engaged and active in the community," Cope said, "like the legendary Kenny Grant and Tony Hapanowich."

He reflected on the controversy that arose in December when the Christmas cross was not lit at Happy Acres Farm, as it had been for decades under Hapanowich's ownership.

The farm is now town-owned and some residents objected to the religious display.

"I'm looking for the correct wording for a possible ordinance to address having religious or secular displays on town-owned property," Cope said. "I've received an ordinance from a New Hampshire town that addresses that for consideration."

Since taking office, Cope has overseen eight road repaving projects, several requiring reclamation. He oversaw the remodeling of the Sherman Playhouse and oversaw the completion of the long stalled emergency services facility, formerly known as the firehouse.

He obtained a $200,000 STEAP grant for a Public Works wash station for town and volunteer fire department vehicles. That project is in the design stage.

With the defeat last year of a senior housing project, Cope is working with the new Housing Commission to help seniors remain in town.

"I have many projects I want to see to completion," Cope said. "Repairs and refurbishing need to be done at Mallory Town Hall.

"The baseboard heating system is faulty, windows leak and the carpeting needs to be replaced," he added. "Some employees are experiencing allergy issues."

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352