TEAM Westport will continue to operate as the town’s multicultural body. However, membership criteria will be tightened.
That’s the crux of a letter sent by 1st Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker to attorney Vincent Marino of Orange. She responded to his clients — Westporters Zack Alcyone and Camilo Riano — who charged last month that the group was illegally constituted.
Marino said that too many members are from one political party; that not all are Westport electors, and that several served longer than the town charter allows.
Members had been appointed by Democratic and Republican selectpersons, dating back to TEAM Westport’s formal recognition in 2005.
After consulting with town attorney Ira Bloom, Tooker said:
First and foremost, the work of TEAM Westport is important to the future of our community by helping to ensure that every — residents, employees, business owners and visitors alike — feels that they belong and are welcome here.
The town of Westport thrives on the volunteer efforts numerous people, including members of TEAM Westport, who generously give of their talent and time. I am so grateful for our appointed board, commission and committee members who help make Westport the best place to live, work, and play.
Bloom told Tooker that because TEAM Westport is “advisory” — and formed with “the intention to utilize the most qualified volunteers to offer guidance and advice” — it is not subject to the same charter provisions as boards and commissions.
However, she noted, Bloom advised that the minority representation rule should be applied. She will make sure that no more than 50% of members come from the same political party.
I am fully committed to maintaining and preserving the original mission of TEAM Westport. It is crucial.
I am confident we have the knowledge and expertise among our residents here in Westport to fulfill the slightly amended membership requirements, and that TEAM Westport will continue to serve our community in it advisory role in creating a more welcoming, multicultural Westport.