Election Day: 2 Days Later

The voters have spoken.

Well, some of them.

With just over 8,400 of Westport’s 19,811 eligible voters casting ballots, Republicans retain Town Hall. Control of the selectman’s office has ping-ponged between parties ever since the 1970s, when a 25-year stretch of Republicans ended.

This will be the 3rd straight term for Republican leadership. But this is Westport, not Washington or many other places in America.

We’re a blue town, in a blue state. And we’re a town. We’re neighbors. We see our new selectwomen — and, notably, this is the first time in our history the top 2 slots are filled by  females — everywhere. The market, the beach, doctor’s offices — they’re part of our community.

Westport’s new 1st selectwoman Jen Tooker (right) and 2nd selectwoman Andrea Moore

Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore are Westporters, through and through. Tooker has lived here for many years; Moore is a Staples graduate.

Both have extensive experience. Tooker is the incumbent 2nd selectwoman; Moore serves on the Board of Finance. They know this place. They know us. They will guide our town with wisdom, strength, compassion and care.

Tooker and Moore won the election with substantial support from Democrats and independents. Both groups represent the bulk of Westport voters.

Tuesday’s election was hardly a Republican wave. Democrats continue to control all boards and commissions. They outpolled their opponents — in some cases, substantially — in races that were both contested, and uncontested.

Planning & Zoning — one of the most important bodies in town — saw the re-election of 3 Democratic incumbents.

The Board of Education — another crucial body — was humming quietly along, with 2 candidates from each party “vying” for 4 seats. A late write-in candidate plastered the town with signs, but drew less than 5% of the vote.

Suddenly — less than a week before Election Day — one candidate slammed his own Republican Party, for failing to take a stand on the Critical Race Theory debate, and alleging it had stopped him from campaigning.

The resulting extensive publicity did not seem to matter. Both Republicans drew nearly the same number of votes; at around 21%, both trailed their Democratic rivals, who were around 28%. All 4 now make up the majority of the new Board of Ed.

Town Hall will continue with Republicans in the top spot — and Democrats leading board and commission meetings held htere.

One of the big stories of this election was the number of uncontested races. The Board of Finance and Zoning Board of Appeals had the same number of candidates as open spots; so (without the write-in candidate) did the Board of Ed.

Six of the town’s 9 Representative Town Meeting districts did not have competitive races.

Combined with the low turnout, that raises a crucial question: How much do Westporters really care about our town government?

Kudos to the men and women who stepped up this election season. Thanks to all who ran, whether they were opposed or not.

You will run our town well. You will put in countless hours, read mind-numbing reports, attend endless meetings, and hear from many residents, with ideas, insights and complaints ranging from very valid to ridiculously absurd.

Some of them may have voted for you. Some of them may have voted against you. Some may not have voted at all.

That’s the reality of democracy. We get the government we deserve.

Or, in Westport’s case, sometimes it’s even better than we deserve.

 

24 responses to “Election Day: 2 Days Later

  1. This is probably a bit off topic, but I’ve come to the conclusion that women are better leaders than men. I’m tired of men and their unquenchable egos. Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand has navigated Covid and there are only 28 deaths from the pandemic since January 1, 2020. I know I might be criticized for making a generalization, but before you do that, think back in history at the great leadership of women, and then think of some of the ego infested men who have screwed up this world.

  2. This town is run so much better than most places around the country. Fortunately, we have a lot of people that dont classify town leaders as democrat or republican, just as good people to do a job. I knew Jim Marpe from many town events, and after 2 years asked a friend if he was a dem or repub. We should literally fire just about every washington politician and start over as most politicians get in office and only care about keeping their salaried job. Steinberg seems like a fine man. Tooker and Moore have loved this town for so many years and have done their best to keep making it brighter, happier and more philanthropic. They care, plain and simple. Yes traffic in town and business revival is important. However, national divisive politics need to stay outside of town walls. Tooker and Moore will listen to people and as we tackle education and the pandemic remnants and all else, having two smart, strong and caring women leading us, we are in great shape!

  3. T.J. Elgin, who got like 64 votes, is insisting he be named 3rd Selectman, while Westport’s town attorney disagrees, saying Tooker and Moore must appoint a Democrat. Let the s___show and lawsuits begin.

    • I’m not sure why the newly elected leaders have to appoint a Democrat as Third Selectman. Why can’t they appoint an Independent or anyone they want who they would deem as qualified? What am I missing here?

  4. Barry Goldenwater

    Dan Woog deleted a thoughtful article I just posted that focused on free speech. Ironic. Kindly explain this to your readers, sir.

    • Because, as noted in the “Comments” box, all commenters must use full, real names. Your name seemed to be fake, and because you were a first-time commenter, I emailed the address you provided asking for proof of who you were. My email was returned; you provided a fake email as well as, apparently, a fake name.

      Does that answer your question, “Barry”?

  5. Honest people stand by their comments and are proud to use their real name! Shame on you for being a fake!

  6. Thanks Dan for the update. Did anyone get elected to clean up all the election signs?

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      It’s an effort, and I know I saw several intersections that had them removed or piled up already, so I have hope that the candidates and their volunteers will be around quickly to pick them up! I believe many of their components can also be recycled, as I’ve seen past candidates at the transfer station with theirs.

    • This has become a public safety issue in Westport. If drivers are actually reading the political signs, how do they notice on the signs they’re supposed to be looking at, i.e., road signs? Or, for that matter, even the car in front of them?

  7. Thanks for this post. I could not have said it better.

  8. Charlie Haberstroh

    I’ve been volunteering in town government for 20 years now, just concluding 8 years as Chair of the Parks and Rec Commission. Volunteering as so many good people do here in Westport. I have pretty thick skin, but have been subject to too many unnecessary, but very personal, hurtful comments regarding myself and my family members made “on the record”. This is not about me, but I am concerned with is other fine people who would otherwise consider volunteering for Westport Government positions, deciding not to volunteer because they do not want to be subject to unnecessary verbal abuse. Those passionate about particular issues should remember that the volunteers who serve in Town Government devote endless hours to the positions and in the vast number of cases are serving to give back to the community. There are other reasons, I think the potential abuse that many potential candidates for public office fear, is one of the key reasons that many of the offices are not contested.

  9. Elizabeth Thibault

    I think that we’re an exceedingly lucky and privileged town, in that we have an excess of qualified and willing volunteers for the many roles that make living here so wonderful. Regardless of party, people have been enthusiastic about giving their time and energy, putting in so many hours, to ensure that Westport (both municipal and private institutions,) remains a great place to live. As my friend likes to say, we have an embarrassment of riches.

    All these positions, however, require significant investments of time. The involvement requires a commitment that many of us cannot give, due to other obligations such a demanding jobs, the needs of children and other family duties, or financial constraints. (Frankly, I also know that my qualifications are no where near as impressive as those who do run.) Being able to lead is a privilege with great responsibility, there are many limiting factors.

    Turnout was good, and will continue to be strong, but we have seen many new residents join us in the last year. They have moved here during a time when it has been more difficult to get involved and get to know others. The guides and communications sent during this election season can only give a small snapshot of how candidates intend to contribute, their policies, and preferences for the direction of the town. I’m confident as they become more familiar with the town and people, that we’ll see deeper knowledge and involvement form our new neighbors.

  10. Dan,
    Two women at the head of our town is not new. Jackie Heneage and Martha Hahuth were prior office holders as first and second selectman. the only difference was that they were Democrats and the current team is Republican

    • Jackie Heneage served as first selectman from 1973 to 1981; she was never the second selectman. Marty Hauhuth was first selectman from 1985-1989. When she lost in 1989, she became the third selectman. Their service dates did not overlap

      • Martha was second selectman during Jackie’s term and as you point out later was elected to 1st position.

        • Dick Lowenstein

          Sorry, Mike, but Ted Diamond was always Jackie’s second selectman. Marty lost to Bill Seiden in 1981 but beat him in 1985, when Bill became third selectman.

  11. Hi Dan- thanks for your observations and analysis. And Charlie I agree with you – many of the new people do not understand our unusal form of town government and how many of these Boards are volunteer positions with incredibly talented and dedicated members giving a large chunk of their time.
    anle moving into the community – perhaps through realators or other outlets – outlining the process.

    Also in the past few years the RTM which is a non-partisan entity is becoming more and more partisan and I believe we need to resist that trend.

    Thanks for all you do getting the word out about so many issues, opportunities and coverage of local events and organizations.

  12. Jonathan can easily do both, but should he? As an elected State Representative, he may have to vote contrary to what the BOS majority wants. It has absolutely nothing to do with ego; It’s all about occupying two elected positions at once. We have always had people on local boards and commissions, who, like Charlie, simultaneously held non-government jobs.

  13. Charlie Haberstroh

    Dick, I happen to agree with you that a possible plausible reason for Jonathan not to serve as 3rd Selectman could have been potential conflicts with his legislative, but he didn’t say that. I feel he could have dealt with that and done both. However, I felt he demeaned the position. It is mostly approving contracts, etc., but the folks who wrote the charter felt that it was an important enough position to put it in the charter. His legislative position is also a paid position which the 3rd Selectman position is not. Tthe $2,000 per year stipend that the position received is meant to cover miscellaneous expenses incurred with the job.)

    • Wouldn’t this dual role issue have existing if he had won? Not sure how one runs for office and expects to keep another one at same time. Doesn’t exactly serve the public best. If the idea was that he’d resign one if and only if he’d won, probably prudent for him to have made that clear up front.

  14. Charlie
    The “hurtful verbal abuse and disparagement ” of residents at the hands of poweful Town elected or appointed officials is equally if not more impactful on stifling resudent willingness to speak and participate. The anonymity of WP06880 is just one example of some residents concerned about repercussions when voicing controversial or opposing opinions.

    With Jen & Andrea, given their congenial temperament, I hope that acceptable code of conduct will become compulsory. .

    Thank you for your 20 years of service to the Town. Few have been as generous of their time. While challenging times lay ahead, with Jen & Andrea at the helm I believe we are in good hands.

    AND not to say that Jonathan’s & TJ’s good ideas can’t be considered simply because they lost the election. Good ideas are not partisan.

    Dr J

  15. Arline Gertzoff

    I have truly been here a long time 65 years to be precise.I have worked at the polls for 22 years8400 voters out of 19,811 is not a good turnout especially since absentee voting is not restricted as it was formerly .For the future I wish the new administration well and hope they can see their way to provide some morning coffee/tea in the budget for the poll workers many of whom who worked from 5am to at least 9:30 pm or later .

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