First selectman

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The first selectman (sometimes selectwoman depending on the preference of the person holding the office) is the head of the board of selectmen in some New England towns.

Historically, the first was the selectman who received the largest number of votes during municipal elections or at town meeting. Most towns however, have chosen to elect the first selectman in a separate election, much like a mayor.

While the principle remains the same in most towns, the function has evolved differently. Traditionally, the first selectman acts as chief administrative officer. As with all politicians in New England, it was originally a part-time position. Most modern towns that have part-time first selectmen limit their function to chairing the board of selectmen and performing certain ceremonial duties. Actual administration of the town is handled by the town manager. In other towns, the first selectman acts as CEO of the town, much like a mayor, alone or in conjunction with a town manager who acts as a chief administrative officer.

In Connecticut, the first selectman is the chief executive and administrative officer of most towns with the Selectmen-Town Meeting form of government. Some towns, such as Woodbridge, elect their first selectmen to be the chief administrative officer of the town even though the position is technically part-time. The first selectman is also a voting member of the board of selectmen and can cast a tie breaking vote in the board of finance. In other towns, the position is full-time. In towns such as Beacon Falls, Bethany, Orange, and Simsbury, the losing first selectman candidate can earn a seat on the board of selectmen, depending on the number of votes he or she garners.