Packing Star Power

Written by Karin Crompton.


Celebrities help school board candidate raise money

East Lyme — Lydia Benedict, a Democratic hopeful for the Board of Education, has raised thousands of dollars so far in a campaign that has not included fund-raisers but does include contributions from a rock star and other celebrities.

Benedict announced earlier this week that she has raised more than $4,000 in a three-week span.


According to campaign paperwork filed at the town clerk's office, the contributors to Benedict's campaign include rock legend David Crosby, a member of the band Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Crosby gave Benedict's campaign $250. Crosby's wife, Jan, also contributed $250. The Crosbys live in Santa Ynez, Calif.

Benedict also received $250 each from David Checketts, the former chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden, and his wife, Deborah. The Checkettses live in New Canaan.

Armen Keteyian, television commentator for professional basketball games, contributed $250. Keteyian is also listed as living in New Canaan.

It is unusual for a local school board candidate to raise much money. According to records at the town hall, the amount that Benedict has raised far exceeds what the candidates for first selectmen have raised. Her account is about half of what the entire Republican Town Committee controls and approaches what the Democratic Town Committee has on hand.

Benedict's husband, Jeff, an author, is chairman of her fund-raising. Lydia Benedict said some of the contributors are business contacts her husband has made as well as friends and associates of the couple.

“The money we've earned so far is the result of one e-mail and then just talking to the people we know, and word of mouth,” she said Friday.

Benedict said she would be using the money for campaign literature and that the campaign has some events planned for the fall. She declined specifics, but said it would be a big event put on for the teachers and would involve “a big name that everybody recognizes.”

Benedict said it is not David Crosby.

Benedict is pairing with the high school football coach and former elementary school teacher, Andy Dousis, to run for the board. Democrats can win two seats to the board. Just one Democratic incumbent, Mary Broderick, is up for re-election.

The Democrats will have five candidates on the ballot in November after the town committee voted last month to run the maximum allowed. None of the other school board candidates has yet formed a political action committee, according to town hall records.

Benedict indicated that the bulk of her fund raising may be through.

“We've raised enough to this point that the nice thing about it is we really shouldn't have to worry too much from this point out about fund-raising, and focus on issues related to the Board of Education,” she said.