STONINGTON — The Stonington Democratic Town Committee voted unanimously Thursday night to select Jocelyn Kepple, a middle school teacher, as its choice for the Democratic seat on the Board of Selectman that was vacated by Kate Rotella at the beginning of the year.
The committee chairman, Scott Bates sent, a letter conveying the committee’s choice to First Selectman Rob Simmons and Selectman John Prue, the two remaining selectmen, after the committee’s meeting at the Stonington Borough Fire Department.
Simmons and Prue, both Republicans, have 30 days to appoint a replacement, who must be a registered Democrat according to the state's minority representation law.
In his letter, Bates said that Kepple, a lifelong resident of Stonington, had “dedicated her professional life to educating the children of our town.”
Kepple teaches sixth grade at Mystic Middle School and serves on the Middle School Consolidation Committee and as a youth basketball coach.
“What higher qualification can there be for this office than to have someone entrusted with the education of our children?” Bates wrote. “Ms. Kepple was elected unanimously because of these qualifications and also because her entire life has been lived in a family dedicated to public service and community action.”
Kepple’s father, Nicholas Kepple, was first selectman from 1987 to 1989 and has served as the judge of the Southeastern Corner Regional Probate District since 2011. Her mother, Noreen Kepple, ran the Stonington Community Center's preschool program for 30 years.
Bates said the committee was also proud “of the fact that after centuries in which the Town of Stonington did not elect women to the Board of Selectmen, this barrier is now broken, and we intend to keep the doors of opportunity open.
“Ms. Kepple also represents a new generation of Town residents. Her energy and commitment to Stonington led to our unanimous choice,” Bates wrote. “We respect that the Town Charter places this choice in your hands. We also expect that you will respect the will of the Democratic voters in Stonington.”
Bates urged Simmons and Prue to convene a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen “forthwith” to provide full representation on the Board of Selectmen.
Simmons said Friday that Kepple could be an exemplary choice. “I think that the fact that she was endorsed unanimously by the Stonington Democratic Town Committee as their selection for this position conveys a strong message to me that this is a good person who deserves serious consideration, which I will certainly provide, and I think the chances are very good that I will be completely supportive,” he said.
To get to know Kepple better, Simmons said he and Prue have invited her to Simmons’ home on Sunday afternoon for a social gathering.
“We have invited her to have an informal conversation to answer any questions she may have and perhaps to have her answer some questions that we may have, just so we can get to know each other a little better,” he said. “In the letter Chairman Scott Bates requested we arrange a special meeting for her appointment and we will do that sometime after the social gathering on Sunday, assuming that everything unfolds and goes well, which I certainly hope it will.”