REDDING, Conn. – Redding voters elected Democrat Julia Pemberton as the town’s new first selectman in a tight race Tuesday against Republican Chris Hocker.
Pemberton won with 52 percent of the vote. She collected 1,393 votes, compared with 1,295 for Hocker.
Democrat Leon Karvelis won the race for selectman over Republican Michael Thompson. Karvelis won by an even smaller margin than Pemberton. Karvelis received 1,345 votes, and Thompson garnered 1,310.
Pemberton, Karvelis and Thompson will comprise the Redding Board of Selectmen.
"I'm overwhelmed,'' Pemberton said. "We had a record turnout. The key was there was widespread participation."
One of the top priorities for Redding voters in the election was the development of the Georgetown area. Hocker and Pemberton believe that bringing in more businesses and housing in the Georgetown area would help broaden the tax base and ease the tax burden on homeowners.
Pemberton served for 12 years as an elected official, first as a member of the Region 9 School Board and a member of the Board of Selectmen. She is director of communications and public affairs for CT Challenge and its Center for Survivorship in Fairfield.
"We're going to have to hit the ground running,'' Pemberton said. "That means diving into Georgetown and getting right to work. We also have budget season coming up in December."
Hocker has lived in Redding for 20 years, and has held positions on the Region 9 Board of Education and on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Redding-Easton. He is an executive in the electric power industry and is currently the vice president of planning with PowerBridge LLC.
"When you lose a race that close, it's tough,'' Hocker said. "I thought it was going to be close. The town will have its challenges. Hopefully the town will come together and work through them."
The First Selectman’s job became available when Natalie Ketcham decided not to run for re-election. Ketcham, a Republican, served seven two-year terms as the Redding first selectman. She was the town’s longest-running first selectman in 50 years.
Pemberton is the first Democrat to win in Redding since Mary Anne Guitar served for 12 years from 1977 to 1989. Pemberton is only the second Democrat to win the first selectman's race in Redding since 1927.
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