First Selectman Natalie Ketcham won’t seek re-election in November. She made her announcement to the Republican Town Committee at its meeting on Monday.
Ms. Ketcham, who is serving her seventh term, is the town’s longest serving first selectman in 50 years and the second longest in more than 100 years.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Ms. Ketcham said about her decision. “I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on the town’s condition,” she said, pointing to the town’s AAA bond rating, its “very healthy fiscal balance,” and its “very professional, experienced and stable employee base.”
“For a responsible CEO, this is a perfect time to pass the baton to allow a successor to learn the ropes in good times,” Ms. Ketcham said. “Therefore, I have decided not to run for an eighth term.”
Ms. Ketcham said she is “very grateful” to the residents of the town “for giving me the opportunity to lead our town. It’s been an honor to represent Redding and to fight for our interests.”
Among those fights was the battle to get Connecticut Light & Power Co. to put a 345-kV transmission line mostly underground through the town and to hold the company accountable for its responses following Tropical Storm Irene and Alfred, the nor’easter, when most of the town was without power for a week, some customers longer.
Ward Mazzucco, Republican Town Committee chairman, noted on Tuesday that Ms. Ketcham has held elective office for 26 years, of which 14 have been as first selectman. “Natalie serves the town with distinction, integrity, and sound judgment,” he said.
“She has been fighting to ensure the quality of our schools, preserve the rural character of our community, and help to keep our finances strong. She deserves some time to slow down, though none of us believe it is in her nature to do so,” said Mr. Mazzucco.
“We support her agenda for the remainder of her term, and we will wish her well when she begins to pursue other interests. On behalf of the RTC and of the town, I offer Natalie a heartfelt thank-you.”
The first selectman still has 10 months remaining in her term. When she does leave office this November, it will mark the end of 26 years in public office, 18 years of them on the Board of Selectmen. Ms. Ketcham served four years as a selectman before her election to her first selectman’s post. She has run unopposed in every election.
She also served eight years on the Redding Board of Education, four as its chair.
On the state level, Ms. Ketcham was appointed by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell to the Responsible Growth Task Force because of the town’s experience with the Georgetown redevelopment project. The town received the 2008 EPA National Smart Growth Achievement Award as a result of its work for this project.
In the past, Ms. Ketcham was appointed to serve on the now state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Landscape Stewardship Committee and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2009, she was selected to participate in the governor’s Advisory Panel on Land Conservation. She serves on the Council of Small Town’s board of directors and is former chair of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials.