Tooker: Civil Discourse Is In Jeopardy

At this morning’s TEAM Westport meeting, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker addressed the recent rise in tensions over town affairs. She said:

When this community elected me as your first selectwoman, I made a promise to all of you that I would take action on a number of priorities.

I pride myself in being a leader that gets things done. Many of these decisions will affect the future of Westport. We are fortunate to have such an engaged community, and when this many people share their different opinions, emotions can run high.

I also pride myself on being a leader that listens to everyone. I feel strongly that people need — and deserve — to be heard.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker

Please know that I read each and every correspondence that is received. We won’t always agree, but we should all have the best interest of our town at heart. It’s critical that our decision-making process remains transparent and, importantly, civil.

A recent report indicates civil discourse is in jeopardy even at a local level. It is entitled “Threats and Harassment: The Cost of Local Government Leadership.” It is a sobering article featuring data about communities just like ours. Westport is not exempt, and must do better.

I will continue to lead by listening to all viewpoints. I will not be afraid to take action that I believe is in the best interest of Westport – that is what this community elected me to do.

I am committed to ensuring everyone feels like they belong here, not only our residents and business owners, but our elected and appointed officials as well.

This has been a core tenet of my administration from the beginning – and it remains a top priority.

I’m asking each of you to join me in keeping our discourse civil and productive. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. It’s incumbent on all of us to take an active role in this. That is the only way we will be able to collectively make good decisions on behalf of Westport.

73 responses to “Tooker: Civil Discourse Is In Jeopardy

  1. Civil discourse has been in jeopardy ever since Donald Trump hijacked the Republican Party and brought out the very worst behavior in those people who tend to not want to be civil and do not respect the right of all people who live in this country to have the same rights and access to opportunities. The first thing you need to do, Ms. Tooker, is to denounce what is taking place on the national level in the Republican Party and assure the people of Westport that you do not condone the extremists in your party and that you do not support Donald Trump. That will at least give us an idea of where you stand and who you trust and what kind of leadership you either condone or denounce.

    • Exhibit A for today’s discourse. As an Independent (formally Dem) voter, plenty of blame to go around both parties. The extremists exist in both parties and receive far too much airtime in the media (alas, the quest for ratings). Ms Tooker’s statement was constructive and yet, “denounce!” is all some want to hear. SAD

      • false. it is the Republican Party that has failed to recognize the ejection of Biden. I have asked Tooker over 25 times if she voted for a trump. Shr never answered. it reflects her judgement. Jan 6 was not a Democratic Party event. Joe Biden s d democrats did not take away woman’s rights. Desantis said slavery helped black people. Desantis and republicans are banning library books not Biden and democrats. The Republican Party is supporting Menéndez to stay in office while over 30 D senators call for his resignation. Trump has called out dead veterans loosers and suckers. Tooker and the Republican Party are far out extremists who remain silent in the face of racist behavior. abuse of immigrants. abuse of child labor. lewd and offensive daily speech. it’s the republicans who attack the USA military as woke. it’s the the republicans that want to defund the justice department for holding Trump accountable. the attacks by Republicans on George Soros and Jews are a disgrace

        • Richard, wondering if you think President Biden is doing a good job?

        • Your comments are out of line and disgusting

          • You’re entitled to feel that way, but you declined to dispute any of Richard’s statements. Was the 2020 election stolen?

            • U want to discuss bidens aliases and possible treason taking money for selling out the United States. I dont. We can get the extremes of both parties to wage war based on love and hate for biden or trump. All of these binary discussions are putting this town in the same directionless cloud that will accomplish nothing. I support Veterans. Some are democrats and some are republicans. They get along regardless of political affiliations. If you are a republican it doesnt mean you agree with all of trumps actions, the same for democrats. So i will reiterate, anybody attacking First Selectwoman Tooker (yes selected by THIS town) and demanding her thoughts on trump and a 2020 election is doing nothing for improving this great town.

              • The response from GOP office holders to Trump’s 91 felony counts and his passing around top state secrets to ANYBODY and EVERYBODY has been COMPLETE SILENCE. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. No objections from the GOP to endless trump crimes = agreeing with everything that DJT has said and done.

    • Remember the DTC tried that, and members had to resign from the communications team because they were being forced to write an article about Tooker/Moore blanketing them as trumpers because they just so happen to be republicans? Divisive, prejudice, and discriminative. 

      I applaud the DTC members who refused to give in to that yellow muckraking journalistic approach.

      This town is FAR from any style of leadership from 2016-2023 at the national level. 

    • Rozanne that’s just a typical liberal response. How about your woke party in these liberal cities just cracking at the seams. 
      Crime everywhere because of soft on crime  policies.  
      I really hope they send some illegals to the all white and privileged town of Westport so you can see what real Americans see everyday. You voted for the big guy so take some illegals.  

      Joey can’t put 2 words together and Kamala is a disgrace. 

      6 years the media and democrats only care on keeping trump from running and ruining the country club of politicians.  

      • the democrats are calling for Menéndez to resign. the republicans are defending him. crimes are taking place all over our government starting with Trump. the people shoplifting are criminals. but they are not stealing top secret documents and putting our nations greatest secret and military in harms way. the shop lifting and city crimes are a result of complicated social issues.

    • Stephanie Frankel


    • if it’s Tooker I would not book her

  2. Can I talk politics here?  If not, just delete!  Our current dismal state of affairs regarding civility and reasonable discourse is at least partially (maybe entirely) due to the rise and stranglehold that our two party system has achieved.  That’s why we need more people to get involved.  That only happens when competition is encouraged instead of actively extinguished; when grace and tolerance is heralded; when compromise is deemed not only okay, but mandatory.  If you like any of this, you should check out The Forward Party (  There’s a CT Chapter too (ctforwardparty).  Not Left. Not Right.  Forward.  Get involved – we need advocates in order to effect change.  Thanks.

  3. Jen, we need you in Washington. Got any sisters? Need them too.

  4. Jen – Thank you for your voice on this issue.   Nationally, regionally and especially locally, we need to understand that we can disagree and still be neighbors, friends and colleagues.  

    • you can’t stay silent amongst racist speech quoting Hitler. you cannot remain silent on violent rhetoric. the outrageous speech and conduct of the porn star 4 things indicted ex agent orange stealing g nuclear secrets is not something that’s easily makes friends

  5. Brava, Jen T. I couldn’t agree more – in order for there to be civil discourse, we must first BE civil to each other.

    • when did Tooker criticize trumps discourse ? do you find Trump a role model for civility ? how bout margaeret Taylor green and Lauren Bobert for civil discourse ??

  6. Why do I have to file so many FOIA requests to get public information? 

    • FOIA in Westport is broken, from the many stories I’ve been told. As a starting point. I’d like for the First Selectwoman to publicly disclose by Department and on a regular basis:

      1. The number of FOIA requests made each month
      2. The current number of open FOIA requests
      3. A list of all FOIA Requests which have been referred by FOIA requesters to the FOIA Commission in Hartford.

      I understand that the Police Department has contracted with an online FOIA management tool, which has public-facing requests and reporting. What is the timeline for rolling that out with teh PD, and is there a plan to roll it out townwide?

      Sunlight is the best disinfectant (and best guarantee for Civil Discourse.)

  7. The lack of transparency from this administration has contributed enormously to the frustration of voters across the political spectrum.

    I would consider that lack of transparency to be fundamentally “uncivil.”
    Chris Grimm

  8. Dear First Selectwoman,

    I applaud you for your statement and leadership. The town needs strong leadership now.

    I asked you to let action follow your words.

    – Stop the town attorney from actively hiding documents.
    – Stop the town attorney from issuing fringe legal opinions.
    – Stop the town attorney from claiming privilege over hundreds of documents.
    – Stop the town attorney’s firm from receiving undisclosed payments.
    – Stop letting residents go before the FOI Commission.

    And instead:

    – Make senior town staffers a beacon of integrity.
    – Make transparency and integrity a priority of your administration.
    – Make residents heard by providing a forum.

    Finally, make Westport into what Westport can be, and allow me to measure you by your actions. 

    Thank you.

  9. Thank you Jen for being transparent and then making the tough decisions.. Not easy. 

  10. Jen, I agree.  A good first step would be for your local republican party not to run extremist candidates for the school board, who accuse our superintendent of being a “groomer.”  I think that might help, don’t you?

    • Hi Rich:

      In fairness to Jen, according to a different post on this blog…”At this morning’s TEAM meeting, an audience member asked First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker if she supported Camilo Riano’s candidacy. She said she did not.” I think that was a pretty big deal for her admit and I applaud her for her honesty.

      • that’s no big deal. it’s small and very late. Tooker said nothing on Trumps violent racist lewd speech for years. if it’s Tooker I would not book her

  11. Tuesday night’s RTM meeting pretty much said it all. Have a nice day everyone.

  12. when has Tooker called out her party’s leader ?

  13. Grab Trump By The Penal Code

  14. Sue – I did see that, and I appreciate both that public statement and Mr. Harrington’s vocal and consistent opposition to this slate of candidates.  Both Jen and Robert have shown personal integrity, leadership and courage, and they should be applauded.  

    But much more is required, from a broader set of town republicans, to banish this sort of extremism from our local politics.  Running someone as patently divisive (and that’s putting it kindly) as Mr. Riano is a very, very dangerous game in local politics.  As I’ve pointed out elsewhere here in comments, both parties have crazies – but it is the paramount duty of the DTC and RTC to keep them from running the party, which is, apparently, what the WRTC has allowed to happen.  

    Up until 2016, I had voted for as many republicans as democrats – more republicans than dems at the local level.  But times have changed, and so has the GOP, which has, both nationally and now locally, ceased to function as the necessary and important check on the democratic party in a functioning government, and has instead descended into culture war madness.  

    Unless or until something fundamental changes at the RTC, the only way for local voters deliver a firm message is to withhold votes for any republican at any level.  Town GOP leaders must speak up, like Jen and Robert have, and continue to do so, or our vital town institutions will be dragged into chaos.  Together we can, and should, banish the extremists to the fringes, and protect our town, our schools, and our institutions. 

  15. Ms Tooker. The 2 MEN hoping to be speaker of the house did not certify the USA election of Biden.

  16. This is what happens when Westport has a LOW voter turnout. We get this.  If I’m not mistaken, it was 30-40% maybe…? I hope the complainers/non complainers voted and encouraged their friends , family and neighbors to vote! If not, VOTE, people!!!

  17. Nearly 80% turnout in 2020

  18. David J. Loffredo

    Funny to blame this on Trump (first post). So lame.

    Not sure when Dan required us to use our own names on this nice little local blog, but the lack of civil discourse was the driver – and that was driven by a bunch of peeps in the old 06880….

    • Well said David, but it is predictable coming from a special few who just can’t move beyond obsessing about Trump and instead want to smear all Republicans failing to look at themselves in the mirror.
      Just for the record….I am an Independent and have voted many times for both Democrats and Republicans. 

    • I think it was 2013!

  19. Most of these comments are embarassing and extremely childish. Jennifer Tooker is an amazing human being who wants the best for Westport and its people. Both parties are horrendous in many ways and both have good points in other ways. Comparing or asking who First Selectwoman Tooker voted for is incomprehensible. Trying to demonstrate who she is, based on anything but how she leads Westport or cares about its people is a joke. Our national political presence is laughable. This is Westport. Most of America that voted is disgusted by Biden and Trump being the choices but you have to make a decision on factors other than a personal opinion. Some of rhese comments are gross and ridiculous. I would like to see all the people that complain do something positive for the town. Thank you Jen Tooker for wanting Westport to be the best it can be!

    • who Tooker voted for is highly relevant. for example. Westport has a sister city. Trump called Putin a genius for invading Ukraine. Trunp said he end this war in a day. Trump encourages the policy to cut off aid to Ukraine and many republicans follow DO you care about Westport sister city Lyman ? Tooker has a moral and ethical responsibility to tell 06880 how she judges Trump and the affects of Trumpism. Federal policy affects 06880. 06880 is not insulated from the affects of national policy.

      • Im not sure who you are or if you actually do anything positive for this town, but your comments are immature, foolish, nonsensical and a waste of everybodys time. 

        • Adam. in regard to your criticism of me I invite you to meet me. bring a reporter and or 3 witnesses. I will give you a detailed account of what I have done for this town. I do not like to broadcast the many good things I have done for this town and my community. however under these Wild West times I want you to know exactly what I have contributed to town affairs. Adam. I am calling you out. let’s meet and I will start the process of reveling the many good things I have done. one such thing occurred holloween many years ago along Harbor Road. While walking on Harbor Road a man was laying face down in a ditch on his lawn. people walked by without stopping. perhaps some thought it was a Halloween stunt. it was not. I turned the man over. I saw vomit all over his face. I could go on. I will not. meet me with witnesses so I can continue the story and tell you about what I have done locally and for my country.

      • You are basically nothing more than a comedy show heckler and thankfully nobody takes you seriously or feels in any way you are deserving of an actual response

        • Adam, I was just about to praise your first statement because I too, think Jen is doing a great job and we should be judging her solely on what she does for Westport. However, your last 2 statements demonstrate the exact problem we are discussing. Using language like “waste of everyone’s time” and “comedy show heckler” is pretty pejorative and really not advancing civil discourse. Disagree if you like, but be kind – there IS a way to do that.

          • It is hurtful for this town to see the same person intentionally attack one of the greatest people in this town, elected by the people of this town, and working hard to find middle ground for everyone. The immediate reply as if ready to go anytime mentioned. Trump trump republicans republicans blah blah. Wasteful, hurtful and out of line. We are trying to run this town as a model for CT and the USA. We have the best schools, we support the most charities, we have the best police, government, and first responders. All these people fighting for the extreme ridiculous conversation pieces around federal govt figures only detract from focusing on westports vore issues: traffic, local businesses, housing and equal opportunities for all. It is us in the middle that needs to stand up and tell these extremists that do nothing but complain, harass and stir up trouble, to take a hike. You are part of the solution or part if the problem!

    • Be the best it can be … without the nation’s best community garden? 

  20. As long as politics and political agendas from out of two political parties continue to supposedly speak for most Americans without in most cases truly listening to or governing in a manner that represents mosts Americans much of civic discourse will not be civil! This is to well represented in Westport! Stop the politicking and political discourse and practice more true democracy where elected leadership and community service members practice true public service without political influence. Good government does not need politics!!

    • facts are denied. Truth is denied. lying is every day commonplace. what is the solution. We have been programmed to being lied to.

  21. Tooker. speak up on Another Trump Treason revealing nuclear secrets to a Mar Largo club member Australian billionaire Pratt

    • Richard, I assume you were at the next table listening to this first hand? Why should our First Select Woman need to answer your silly information you obviously read in the National Inquirer…. 

    • New York Times. ABC News. use facts. why should she respond? because Tooker is the leading Republican 06880 leader. Tooker has a responsibility to 06880 and her country. is this civil.

      • I believed Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley who were professional and credible news reporters …not the media hacks at most news outlets these days colored and fueled to create divisive rhetoric including MSNBC and FOX as well.

  22. Tooker Please respond to Trump calling military veterans suckers and lousers. Tooker please respond before next Memorial Day inn06880. Tooker please respond to Trump calling for the execution of 5 star general Mark Milley as Trump steals top secret documents. Are my questions civil. Ms Tooker the fact that you avoid such questions and refuse to speak out on inappropriate Republican behavior is an outrage and indecent

    • Now we know why there’s no tinfoil on the shelves in 06680 grocery stores and who’s hoarding it.

  23. Michael Mossman

    100% agreement with Jen Tooker on the need for civility. The lack of it in what candidates say is a clear indicator of how they will contribute or distract from Town business. Calling the Superintendent of Schools a “groomer” by Camilo Riano is such an indicator and needs to be called out, specifically by our leadership. 

    How our leaders communicate really sets the tone for the civility in our society, locally and nationally. A culture of adolescent name calling has become the norm ever since the 2016 GOP debates. I will never forgive the disgraceful statements DT made about John McCain, as a POW, and how so many people chose to look away. 

    Westport can be and must be better. And saying so is not a partisan issue. It’s a “who we are” issue. All of us. 

  24. India van Voorhees

    I was stunned to read this statement by First Selectwoman Tooker.
    Why did she make an issue of this report? Have there been widespread incidents of threats and harassment against elected officials here in Westport? If so, I haven’t heard about them — I don’t recall any reporting of it.

    The townspeople are upset about several things right now — and this is how FS Tooker responds? By making it seem like WE are doing something wrong?

    This just feels like another attempt at silencing us.

    • Marjorie Donalds

      Exactly! Thank you.

    • Yep.

    • Sharon Horowitz

      India, Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Poor leadership unleashes the “lack of civil discourse” Jen Tooker, take some responsibility.  Reading peoples emails is not leadership. And what decisions have you made in a transparent way ? Rather, you allow people to turn on each other ,and other elected officials,  to avoid them turning on you when called upon to make visible and tough decisions.  

  25. Yep

  26. Stephanie Frankel

    What about Donald Trump and his party is civil? Seriously asking. Jan 6th? Was that civility? Did Donald Trump accept his loss with respect for our country as a whole? That trickles down to the local level. If we accept his behavior, we are in DEEP trouble.

    • thanks Steph. I’ve been writing about this on 06880 for years. Tokker refuses to respond. Tooker is a coward like most Trump followers and politicians. If it’s Tooker I would not book her

    • Ah, c’mon Stephanie, haven’t you heard? 1/6 was just a normal day at the US Capitol, just a couple of normal tour groups doing normal tourist activities. Sure, they made a battering ram to hammer through the windows and erected a gallows to hang Pence (and who doubts that they would have done so) but c’mon, just a quiet, touristy afternoon. A violent, blood thirsty tourist group.

  27. “I pride myself in being a leader that gets things done.” What has she accomplished since was elected? Seriously?

    Yeah, she’ll do for all of Westport what she’s doing for the Community Gardens.

    Chris Grimm

  28. So now we know why the 1st Selectwoman suddenly and inexplicably issued her severe “scolding” to residents about civility yesterday. She had advance warning and knew what was coming last night out of the LLSBC.

    So instead of a open and honest search for answers with all of the stakeholders input equally sought and respected, the supporters of the Gardens and preserve get steam rolled and then “scolded” to remain “civil” when the First Selectwoman and the RTM 29 tell them to their face that their matters don’t matter.

    Who, exactly, are the ones flouting civility here?

    John F. Suggs

    • Marjorie Donalds

      Yes. The timing here is very telling. “Please don’t say anything mean about me as I proceed to infuriate most of my constituents.”

  29. has Tooker national party leader engaged in civil discourse I challenge all Republican supporters to make the case that Trump is a role model for civil discussion. why doesn’t Tooker call it out ? Why do the leading Republican candidates refuse to call it out ? why are so few Republican voters refuse to call it out. ?

    • Tooker on what dates did you call trumps outrageous violent racist lewd speech out. every 06880 voter should ask Tooker that question and insist that she answer. Tooker likes to hide like a coward and refuse to answer on important issues. Since Tooker raised the civil discourse issue Tooker must respond to this question. My money says Tooker will hide and keep quiet. if it’s Tooker I would not book her

  30. Dan, an entire election cycle of returns:
    2019: 39.5%
    2020: 86.5%
    2021: 43%
    2022: 57.62%

  31. Jen Tucker my name is W Tucker Clark we share a similarity in names to Tucker Carlson and the Takoor caste in India that cut hair it was a subclass
    I say all that to prefix the fact that I lived for 17 years after my divorce in 2005 (and for 15 years lived very comfortably on 5 Marc lLanei
    And my daughter Charlotte s Clark was from the “spaced oddity class of 2001!!)
    So I moved into my friends abandonne Mohonk House across from Bridgewater investment firm and it was a previous adolescent home that was closed by the state !!!
    that being said I have done A Course in Miracles with Marianne Williamson who is running for president on the Democratic side and she’s trying to introduce this kind of discourse that you are recommending, but being INVISIBILIZED [her word]by the divisive Media and the Democratic machine.
    and literally on CBS Sunday Morning they had David McCullough III son of the famous historian that for 3 years has run a summer school for gap-year students in small towns in Dodge City Kansas and Albany California and one other place and they it’s free for high school students that apply why they would like to be together with a bunch of their other students of many similar and dissimilar faiths and political beliefs of their parents!!!!

    it’s been a huge success and I urge you to look at the EAPS as a sort of like a domestic Peace Corps to be one of the solving problems of the Youth of TODAY—
    being so divisive and and having so many impending disasters whether it’s the military industrial complex and the government industrial complex the low wages and inequality all these things that seem unsoluble until you just get together and find interest together with people!!

    I urge Westport to be one of those towns that would be applied where host families can host 30 some odd students from all across the country just to be together and do the things that Westport does great!!!

    call me anytime W Tucker Clark I am now in a nursing home in Rocky Hill Connecticut called 60 West on 60 West Street and you can call me at 203-295-9397 if you want to know more about a domestic Peace Corps as a place where Westport could serve !!!
    maybe even you know all the wonderful people that are willing to have high school students come live there with them for the summer

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