Democratic State Representative Jonathan Steinberg has entered the race for 1st Selectman.
His running mate is Board of Education chair Candice Savin.
Steinberg — a native Westporter, and 1974 Staples High School graduate — is in his 6th term as state representative. As co-chair of the Public Health Committee, he worked closely with the Department of Public Health and governor’s office on COVID response.
A long-term member of both the Transportation and Energy & Technology Committees, he has addressed issues like electric vehicles, solar power and infrastructure. In Hartford, where he is a leader of the House Democratic Moderates Caucus, Steinberg has also been at the forefront of budget issues.
Before joining the legislature, Steinberg spent 7 years on Westport’s RTM. He was elected unanimously 3 times as deputy moderator. He represented the RTM on the Town Plan Implementation Committee. He also co-founded the Westport Cinema Initiative, to bring a movie theater downtown.
Steinberg’s political career follows nearly 2 decades in healthcare marketing, with Fortune 100 companies. A graduate of Yale College and NYU’s Stern School of Business (MBA), his hobbies include softball, golf and antiquing. He and his wife Nancy have 3 children — all Staples graduates — and are members of Temple Israel, which his grandfather helped found.
Steinberg cites “friends on both sides of the political aisle, combining compromise with the need to move forward,” and more than 20 years’ experience in strategic analysis and decision-making in the business world, as reasons to run for 1st selectman.
“I have a vision for Westport,” he says. “No one will work harder than me.” Referring to the hours he puts in, he jokes he is one of the state’s “best minimum-wage workers.”
Steinberg’s vision includes reinstating “brown bag lunches,” implementing many of the Downtown Plan ideas (such as dredging the river, and embracing it for multi-use), encouraging economic vitality, and initiating conversations on topics like what to do with Baron’s South.
“The flip side of the pandemic is so much pent-up energy,” he says. “New families are here, looking to do things in new ways. I love the spirit of volunteerism here. Everyone wants to get involved, however, they can.”
Steinberg applauds Westport’s environmental awareness, but sees opportunities to do even more, in areas from expanded composting to additional solar panels. He’s interested too in expanding diversity among town employees, and encouraging mass transit.
All his ideas, he says, “relate to our values as a community.”
Steinberg says that “over many years, our selectmen have served our community well. We are proud of their managerial competence.” However, he would ask, “How can we do things differently? Do we need a director of economic development? What about charter revision?
“I think we can do a better job of interfacing with the community. I really want dialogue with residents, commissions and boards. I’d hit the ground running. I don’t have too many preconceptions. But I’m prepared to lead.”
Steinberg is pleased to run with Savin. “She’s demonstrated true leadership,” he says of her work with the Board of Education.
“Her ability to take on different tasks is what I want in a partner. We’d work together like (former selectmen) Gordon Joseloff and Shelly Kassen did.”
Savin — a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Duke University School of Law — began her career as a New York City prosecutor. After moving to Westport in 2002 with her husband and 2 small children, she built a thriving real estate law practice.
As Board of Ed chair she faced a series of challenges: a controversial superintendent of schools, mold at Coleytown Middle School, and COVID.
She is motivated by “a strong focus on kids, and the importance of consistency and excellence in our schools.” She is proud to have led the board during the past few difficult years. “Our schools are in a really good place now,” Savin says. “We have strong leadership and vision, and greatly improved maintenance.”
Savin — whose community involvement includes co-chairing the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening”; leading The Conservative Synagogue’s rabbi search, and serving as the Democratic Town Committee’s finance chair — says a major factor in her decision to run is “the chance to work with Jonathan. He’s decisive, he gets things done, he works super-hard for Westport, and he knows the issues better than anyone.
“We’re a great team. We know everyone, from young people to seniors. We have a broad connection to the community. And we both know how to build consensus, make tough decisions, be inclusive as possible, and lead in the right direction. We’ll be true to Westport’s values: the arts, environment, inclusion, and taking care of our neediest citizens.”
(Click here for the Steinberg/Savin website.)