10 Questions For 1st Selectman Candidates

Last week, I asked the 3 candidates for first selectman to respond to 10 questions about the job — and Westport.

I tried to make them broad enough for a variety of answers, specific enough so that we’d get a sense of their ideas. I tried to mix heavy with light, medium length with short.

Here, in inverse alphabetical order — hey, I’m a “W” — are their responses.

Jennifer Tooker (Republican)

Jennifer Tooker

Top 3 issues facing Westport (in order) – just a list, not details:

  • Addressing the increased traffic and demands on infrastructure
  • Handling the ongoing effects of the pandemic on residents’ health and mental well-being
  • Managing the damaging 8-30g state statute and the increased potential for state overreach into local zoning decision-making

Any solutions? (100 words max):

  • Create a Traffic Advisory and Neighborhood Safety Commission with representatives from each of the town’s RTM 9 districts and town officials, to provide real-time feedback and solutions for traffic, pedestrian, cycling and safety issues across all our neighborhoods.
  • Strengthen the programming of the Westport Together alliance in coordination with our schools, PTAs and non-profit organizations to ensure that everyone has access to the resources and support they need to address ongoing mental health and wellness challenges from the pandemic.
  • Urge our state legislators to effectively advocate for Westport’s local control over zoning and development while proactively advancing affordable housing solutions locally.

First thing you’ll do on your first day in office:
Meet with the town’s department heads, discuss their operational priorities, and set a positive, collaborative tone for open communication and dialogue in Town Hall. We will support our town employees so, they in turn, can best serve our residents.

Your go-to restaurant:
There are so many to choose from! I’m partial to whatever my family is in the mood for on any given day.

Favorite spot at Compo Beach:
On the stretch of beach across from the Soundview parking lot.

Best Westport “tradition”:
Westport is steeped in tradition. I love them all, but two of my very favorites are the Memorial Day Parade and the 4th of July Fireworks at Compo Beach.

Starbucks, Dunkin’ or somewhere else?
I drink coffee all day long, and there probably isn’t a coffee place in town I don’t visit!

You’re giving a tour of town. What’s the first place to show off …Compo Beach

… and the one place you’d avoid?
The intersection at Route 33 and Post Road West.

In 10 words or less, why should we vote for you?
Proven leader, experienced manager, best temperament for the job.

====================================================

Jonathan Steinberg (Democrat)

Jonathan Steinberg

Top 3 issues facing Westport (in order) – just a list, not details: Traffic, downtown,Infrastructure

Any solutions? (100 words max):
Check out SteinbergSavinforWestport.com. Use of smart technology and hands-on approach with DOT to address traffic flow, pedestrian/bicyclist safety and problem intersections; transform downtown by embracing the river, linking parks and walkways, moving Jesup Green and reimagining Parker Harding; fix aging schools, Longshore and deal with growing resilience/flooding problem with Resilience Commission, homeowner education and loan/assessment program to fix ancient pipes and culverts.

First thing you’ll do on your first day in office:
Reopen Town Hall to all citizens

Your go-to restaurant:
Little Barn

Favorite spot at Compo Beach:
Under trees toward western end of South beach

Best Westport “tradition”:
Volunteering to help others

Starbucks, Dunkin’ or somewhere else?
Dunkin’ but wife is Starbucks, just like I’m Beatles and she’s Stones

You’re giving a tour of town. What’s the first place to show off …? Compo

… and the one place you’d avoid?
I-95 at rush hour(s)

In 10 words or less, why should we vote for you?
I’m passionate and determined to make Westport better than ever.

====================================================

TJ Elgin (independent) did not respond.

 

25 responses to “10 Questions For 1st Selectman Candidates

  1. If I lived in Westport, I wouldn’t vote for a candidate who didn’t respond.

    • I have nothing against Tooker specifically, but there’s a trend local political campaign materials that you can see on her website:
      https://www.tookermooreforselectmen.com/
      The front page has no indication whatsoever that she is the Republican candidate for 1st Selectman… why not? That’s true for a lot of the emails I’ve gotten from Republican candidates for various positions, and it’s true on their lawn signs, etc. Why hide it? Not proud of your party and what it stands for? Shy about the big tent and all the patriots in it?

      Politics aren’t all local anymore. Sorry, but party matters… and they all know it.

  2. 🌱 WTF!!! a thank you to Jonathan!

    I remember Jonathan Steinberg was one of the very first Westport officials who totally embraced the (VERY “controversial” IDEA of) what was once a fledgling Wakeman Town Farm which had local volunteers w/fantastic ideas but
    ZERO town (financial) support-/ initially. WTF was a bit of a crazy idea…

    🌱 but, Jonathan truly believed in the Farm Idea!
    He pushed very hard for the farm to be given a fighting chance to thrive through carefully planned town financial support.
    As a town, we have now been rewarded with the Wildly Successful
    WAKEMAN TOWN FARM Sustainability Center which is the state-of-the-art-
    town-owned and fully-supported Sustainability teaching FARM that we love so much today…
    🌱
    I remember Jonathan volunteered to be a “waiter” at every Grassroots fundraising event since we began raising awareness and money! nearly 10 yrs ago!!
    ((Not an easy task, back in the day 😂…)

    🌱 Jonathan Steinberg is Forward Thinking!! He supports our Local
    Environment and outdoor Education for both the Young and the Young at heart! He took a chance on a Wild Idea!
    He LISTENED and he went to bat for the farm supporters to help make their dreams- Realities.

    IF you love WaKEMAN TOWN FARM- 🌱 please place your vote for
    🌱Jonathan Steinberg who is GROWING OUR TOWN with Sustainability in the forefront of his mind.

  3. Dick Lowenstein

    If advocacy for local control over zoning and development is one of Ms Tooker’s proposed solutions, then I would respectfully suggest that Jonathan Steinberg is the ideal candidate for our next First Selectman.

    Last year. as our State Representative, Jonathan forcefully stood up to his own party to ensure that well intended but deeply misguided proposals were not adopted. His voice made all the difference. Along with support from Rep Stephanie Thomas, Sen. Will Haskell and Sen. Tony Hwang , he lead the way and advocated effectively for Westport. Concurrently, Jonathan has worked with our local P&Z Affordable Housing Subcommittee as it continues the hard work of advancing affordable housing solutions in Westport, such as accessory apartments, housing for adults with special needs and smaller, low density mixed income projects.

    Thank you Jonathan and your fellow legislators – both Democratic and Republican — for your impactful advocacy on this issue.

  4. Jonathan Steinberg responds to emails. The Tooker/Moore campaign does not (but, hey, great Instagram!).

  5. Jonathan Steinberg has it all – experience, leadership, determination, excellent people skills, the ability to choose the right people to get his viion enacted, a history of accomplishment, smarts, and loads of heart. Probably the most qualified person to ever seek the job. VOTE TUESDAY NOV. 2 FOR DEMOCRATS STEINBERG AND SAVIN.

  6. I’m not sure who said more Jennifer Tooker or TJ Elgin.

    Ms. Tooker certainly used more words to say nothing.

    Go-to restaurant: can’t make a decision (but, I’ll mention I have a family).
    Best “tradition”: can’t make a decision (but, I’ll mention holidays that invoke patriotism).
    Coffee: can’t make a decision (but, I’ll imply that I travel throughout the town).
    Sure, they’re ridiculous questions that all local politicians get asked (no offence, Dan), but those are sometimes the most telling.

    First day in office: Ms. Tooker is the current Second Selectwoman. Why does she not already know the priorities of the department heads? Is there not currently “a positive, collaborative tone for open communication and dialogue in Town Hall”? If there isn’t one, why hasn’t she established a positive tone during her time on the Board of Selectmen?

    Traffic is a big concern. Again, Ms. Tooker has served a full term on the Board of Selectmen. According to the Town Charter “The Board of Selectmen shall be the Traffic Authority of the Town.” I don’t think anyone in this town, including Ms. Tooker (“‘place you’d avoid?’ ‘The intersection at Route 33 and Post Road West’”), would say that traffic has improved in the past years. Years of purview, why wait until just before an election to discover the issue?

  7. I’m greatly disappoint by Ms. Tooker’s ideas of solutions.

    To ameliorate traffic she will create (another) committee, putting off action.

    To ameliorate the effects of covid she will see that an existing committee does the work it is supposed to be doing (and doesn’t really apply here).

    To deal with the multifaceted affordable housing issue she would urge state legislators, many of whose interests do not coincide with Westport’s, to keep local zoning.

    Why haven’t these things been done before? They have, but weren’t effective, as we know. Where are new ideas that don’t push the solutions onto other people and into the future?

  8. Harris “Flak” sure has a lot to say considering earning a living from leased land to big oil companies and fracking out west. The audacity and hypocrisy.

    That says a lot without saying anything.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Ad hominem attacks aren’t constructive. Dan asked questions, and candidates chose to reply. Some voters aren’t feeling like some of those responses were transparent or telling. They’re not attacking Jen or Jonathan, who by all accounts both seem like nice people, good neighbors, and active in community life. Discourse only becomes coarse and devolves when we choose that path, and Westport is better than that.

  9. Maybe TJ Elgin was right with his no response action? At least he doesn’t have to take the pot shots from the Westport community peanut gallery.

  10. Giving a tour of the town, I always show off the library!

  11. Johnathan Steinberg proposes to solve traffic problems. A major gridlock problem is caused by the poorly synchronized lights in Westport Center which DOT controls and refuses to resolve. Jonathan has been a legislator in Hartford for 19 years. Why has he not used his contacts and influence to resolve the issue. Is he not sufficiently competent to do so or just simply disinterested ?

    • Jennifer Johnson

      Because, as Jonathan understands, it’s up to local elected leaders to initiate projects and funding with the State. The State won’t fund sidewalks, bike lanes, bus shelters, etc unless Town elected officials make the effort to seek the funding. Unfortunately, Westport is behind other towns in requesting funds for capital projects. Instead Westport’s current administration seems more inclined to fund more studies (that gather dust) and form another committee (which makes it sound like we’re doing something). Funding is available, but Westport has to take the lead. Jonathan clearly understands that.

      • Come on Jennifer,
        We are talking about simple maintenance of Traffic Lights. Timing a system. no tools required. Just The Department of Transportation showing up and programming the system. “as Johnathan understands”?????
        Talk about sidestepping the facts.

  12. I checked out SteinbergSavinforWestport.com and did not find any specific solutions or policy proposals for:

    Use of smart technology and hands-on approach with DOT to address traffic flow, pedestrian/bicyclist safety and problem intersections; transform downtown by embracing the river, linking parks and walkways, moving Jesup Green and reimagining Parker Harding; fix aging schools, Longshore and deal with growing resilience/flooding problem with Resilience Commission, homeowner education and loan/assessment program to fix ancient pipes and culverts.

    Please direct me to the specific policy proposals supported by the candidates that will raise the quality of life and positive outcomes for all Westporters.

    Thank you.

  13. So true, Jennifer! A vote for Tooker is a vote for continued mediocrity and very little concrete action. The last thing we need is to pay exorbitant fees to consultants for another study about our vexing traffic issues. I am fully confident Jonathan Steinberg will initiate positive action for Westport once and for all. He has the experience, the drive and the contacts in Hartford. These are challenging times and we need an experienced leader who is up for the challenge. I’m a STBX fan, but I’d happily buy him a cup from Dunkin!! What do you take in your coffee, Jonathan?

  14. Tj Elgin didn’t respond to anything because he hasn’t done anything.

    The mediocrity and concrete action is the blame of the state that drags and refuses to do anything for our town because of our campaign to protect the historic bridge and prevent our town from being the bypass (too late).

    The town asks, and the town gets nothing. The town is self sufficient.

    The state is where it starts, not the town. The town does not control the state seat, the representative of the state from our town does.

    The towns priorities are restoring and keeping sites while modifying current existing buildings for newer uses.

    Westport is an island in a sinking mismanaged state, lead by poorly managed municipalities, expecting wealthy towns to foot the bill and correct their mistakes.

    There have been multiple traffic studies and even a PAC for the riverside and 95 corridor, twice. Each time, it was a go around where representatives from each committee sounded off, only to be told what the state wanted to do from the beginning.

    Over 35 new businesses, influx of new residents, student population up, mill rate is down…why ruin a good thing?

    If you do not like the way the state is ran, then do not elect someone who has been at the state for 10+ years.

  15. Interesting that Tooker would not give favorite restaurant or coffee spot…afraid of loosing voters who disagreed…what a whimp.

    • Dan K. I can see why she might not answer a question about her favorite coffee spot or restaurant. The question itself has nothing to do with how one would govern. One should answer concrete questions about goals when one takes office, not where one gets coffee! That’s like asking a candidate where they buy their toothpaste. Does the answer really reflect what type of administration they’d have?

      • Not so fast, Jack, on the “has nothing to do with how one would govern”. It goes right to the likelihood of obfuscation in office. Why no pony up a favorite, instead of dancing and so obviously avoiding a simple, non controlling question. Might she do the same, once in office, when asked an important one.

        • Gotta admit, Dan’s questions to the Westport candidates were more hard hitting than Anderson’s were last night to Sleepy Joe.

        • Dan, If she answers substantive questions about governing, we need not worry where she buys her toothpaste and coffee!

  16. Last night the audience asked some tough questions. Mr. Mago, Ly’in Ted, Sleepy Joe Biden, Crooked Hillary, Sloppy Steve (Bannon,) Crazy Bernie, Little Marco.. and now a new one Copycat James Waldron.

  17. “Create a Traffic Advisory and Neighborhood Safety Commission with representatives from each of the town’s RTM 9 districts”

    Hey, isn’t that RTM members have been doing to no avail.. We don’t need another commission; we need an administration that acts on the input it has been getting from RTM members and their constituents.

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