Category Archives: People

“Dr. King, The Rabbi And Me”

A recent “06880” story on the 70th anniversary of Temple Israel sent many longtime and former congregants — here and across the country — on trips down memory lane.

It stirred Carol-Anne Hughes Hossler too.

Now retired after a long career as an elementary school teacher, principal, Indiana University faculty member and coordinator of multicultural education for teachers, she is not a former Westporter. She’s not even Jewish.

Carol-Anne spent 5 years in Weston, before her family moved to California. They attended St. Michael’s Episcopal church in Wilton.

But it was the 1960s — the height of the civil rights movement — and at 13 years old, she was starting to pay attention to the world around her.

In October of 1963, the 5th and 6th grade wing of Weston’s elementary school burned down. Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein offered the use of Temple Israel. Carol-Anne and her sister were among the students who went to school there.

When she learned that Martin Luther King would speak at Temple Israel’s 5th anniversary celebration, she told her parents she wanted to go. They said no; it was wrong to take the seat of a member of that congregation.

“That was the first time I went against my parents,” Carol-Anne recalls. She wrote a script for what she wanted to say, called the temple, and talked to the secretary.

Rabbi Rubenstein called right back. He asked why this was important to her. She told him how the leader of her church youth group had gone to the August March on Washington, and that they’d recently asked some girls from New York City to a youth group party.

He invited her to King’s speech. And — in the parking lot before the service — he met her, and introduced her to King himself.

This newspaper clipping from 1964 shows Rev. Martin Luther King at Temple Israel. He’s flanked by Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein (left) and congregation president Dan Rodgers.

Carol-Anne still remembers exactly where she and her mother sat in the sanctuary.

For 20 years she considered writing a children’s book about that night, and the events that led up to it.

She thought she remembered what King had said. But she wanted her book to be true. As she researched his speeches, she realized that her recollection of King’s talk was accurate.

She began writing the book a decade ago. Her book is about how a black man and a Christian girl sat in a Jewish synagogue together, as brother and sister. “Why can’t it be like that everywhere?” she wonders.

There’s a subplot about white privilege. In September 1963, a bomb at a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama killed 4 little girls.

“I looked at my white arm,” Carol-Anne says. “I was aware of my privilege as a white person even then.”

In 1964, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at the 5th anniversary of the dedication of Temple Israel. He autographed this program.

“Dr. King, The Rabbi and Me” has not yet been published. But — with a renewed focus on white privilege and black-white relations, and a target audience of upper elementary school students — Carol-Anne says the timing is right.

She hopes for a January launch. That’s the month in which Dr. Martin Luther King — who was just 35 years old when he visited Westport — was born.

This coming Martin Luther King Day, he would have been 91.

BONUS FACT: Dr. King was not the only prominent black American to speak at Temple Israel in that era. Andrew Lopez discovered a talk by author James Baldwin in April, 1961. His topic — “The Negro Mood” — was also the subject of a piece he’d written recently for the New York Times Magazine. 

Westport’s Musical Canyon.

For as long as she could remember, Canyon. thought she’d be a dancer.

Growing up in the Sierra foothills town of Nevada City, California, the girl — who in 7th grade shortened her very long name to just the first one, Canyon (and added a period, for good measure) — spent most of her time on ballet.

When she was 16, her mother took her to Manhattan. She fell in love with the city, and vowed to live there.

On her 18th birthday, in 2003, Canyon. moved to the East Village. She had a job — at Starbucks, where she’d worked while in high school — and a dancer’s dream.

But she also had health issues, which made dancing difficult. On a whim, she’d brought her mother’s guitar to the city. Canyon. filled her down time writing songs.

“I never mourned the loss of dance,” she says, looking back now in wonder. “I put all my energy into music.”

Canyon. (Photo/Marion Lynott for Irish Flare Photography)

What kind of songs did she write?

“Really bad ones,” she laughs. “That’s how I processed everything. But that’s also how you get better as a songwriter.”

Slowly, her music became “less bad.” All these years later, Canyon. says, she is still honing and refining her songwriting skills. She describes her music as “chill.”

She sang at open mic sessions. “Cranky sound engineers” taught her tough but important lessons about performing.

Soon after arriving in New York, Canyon. met a model and actor named Mike Sharits. They married in 2006, and moved to Los Angeles. She got a job as a nanny for  Melissa Joan Hart. Canyon. loved the work, the actress and her family.

When Melissa was moving to Westport, she described it as an “artists’ community.” Canyon. and Mike moved here too. She worked for Melissa for a few years. She now manages an apartment building downtown, and remains close to the actress.

Coming to Westport, Canyon. says, “I was expecting Ojai” — meaning the cool Southern California town.

It’s taken her nearly a decade. But finally — thanks to friends like Darcy Hicks and Lissy Newman — she’s discovering the artsy side of Westport.

One reason she did not explore Westport earlier is that she was playing at out-of-town restaurants, house shows and small festivals.

Now — with a 20-month-old son — she’s booking more local gigs. She’s played recently at Jesup Hall, Amis, The Boathouse, Tavern on Main, Rizzuto’s and the Black Duck.

The other day, Canyon. recorded her next single: “Tooth and Nail.” Next month she’ll record 4 more.

It’s taken Canyon. a while to find the arts in Westport. Now her voices echoes with many others’.

(Click here for Canyon.’s website. Hat tip: David Wilson)

06880: Where Westport Meets The Music World

Mannequin Pussy continues to draw raves.

Rolling Stone is the latest to take note of the Philadelphia-based punk rock band — half of whose 4 members are from Westport. Marisa Dubice and Thanasi Paul graduated from Staples High School in 2005.

Marisa has “the kind of voice you can’t ignore—a punk yowl with a soul singer’s flair for raw passion,” the magazine says. And the band’s new album, “Patience,” is “one of the year’s most cathartic rock statements.” “

At 15, Marisa — whose idols were Amy Winehouse, the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — was diagnosed with cancer. “Any free will I was supposed to have was suddenly taken away—nothing was in my control,” she tells Rolling Stone.

I was going through experiences none of my peers could relate to. I used to be very goofy and strange and it really sobered me up. Growing up in the Connecticut suburbs, it’s an environment where there is a set way to live your life. Then once that happened I just felt like, “Just just burn down all this shit. Clearly I’m not on the same path as everyone else.” So it allowed to me to rip up that script.

Marisa Dabice (center, bottom) and Thanasi Paul (far right) are Westport’s contributions to Mannequin Pussy.

Thanasi was a childhood friend. During Staples he played in bands, at venues like Toquet Hall. Marisa watched him. But she didn’t perform until she was 23.

My mom had a stroke, so I moved back to the east coast to take care of her. All of a sudden I was at the hospital every day. So I just called him and said, “I feel really lost. Would you play with me?” That became my cathartic outlet—just screaming onstage.

They became Mannequin Pussy with the addition of 2 other musicians. (Click here for the full story.)

Rolling Stone is not the only outlet to take note. The website Stereogum just named “Drunk II” — a song from their new album — the #2 “Song of Summer.” It was beaten out by Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road (Remix),” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

Meanwhile, here are 2 other musical Fun Facts:

Chelsea Cutler is gaining notice, for her blend of indie-pop and electronic music. Her single “You Make Me” made Billboard’s viral chart. She opened for Quinn XCII, has toured internationally, and played at Governor’s Ball in New York.

Chelsea — who has nearly 5 million listeners on Spotify — grew up in Westport, and attends Amherst College.

However, she is not a Staples alum. She graduated from the Pomfret School.

And how about this, Senor Salsa fans: Garry Dean, owner of the popular Post Road West restaurant, is Jimmy Dean’s son.

This marks the first time in history that Mannequin Pussy, Chelsea Cutler and Jimmy Dean have all appeared in the same sentence.

(Hat tips: Catherine Walsh and Jaime Bairaktaris)

Blues, Views & Volunteers

Over the past few years, the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival strayed from its local roots.

Crowds poured in from the tri-state region. They heard great music, ate smokin’ barbecue, and their kids played in bouncy houses and on slides.

The only thing lacking was Westporters. For some reason, it was hard to find our neighbors there.

The event — set for August 31 and September 1 , at the Levitt Pavilion and library parking lot — has been reimagined this year. Founder Bob LeRose returns as a producer. He, Westporters Peter Propp  and Crispin Cioe have reached out to local businesses.

They’ve targeted 2 great non-profits — Staples Tuition Grants and Wakeman Town Farm — for a portion of the proceeds.

Though they’ve scrapped the BBQ portion of the event, they’re bringing in top acts like Lawrence, Anders Osborne, Southern Avenue and the Main Squeeze.

“We view the event as Westport’s hometown festival,” Propp says.

This summer, 3 interns helped maintain that hometown feel.

In the spring, Taylor Barr — a 2019 Staples High School graduate who heads to  George Washington University soon — joined the team.

He recruited rising seniors Emily Stone and Emma Vannart. The trio worked on social media, strategy and sponsorship sales. They’re now distributing posters and postcards around town.

From left: Taylor Barr, Emma Vannart and Emily Stone.

Propp calls the interns “an unstoppable force.” They helped bring on West, Earth Animal and Greenwich Medical Spa as new sponsors.

“They analyze problems, crack jokes, are thoughtful and smart,” Propp says. “It’s been really fun to get to know them.”

As Blues & Views draws near, more volunteers (of any age) are needed. There’s work to be done before — and of course during — the festival. For more information on the event, click here. To volunteer, email info@bluesviews.com.

Batsh*t Bride Comes Home

First came “Groundhog Day.” Then “Independence Day.”

A new film takes place on April 1. It’s not called “April Fools Day” — the title is “Batsh*t Bride” — but the premise is clear.

Just before her wedding that day, a bride pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

Jonathan Smith’s indie feature — starring Meghan Falcone as Heather — debuts August 26 at Stamford’s Avon Theatre. The venue is signifcant: “Batsh*t Bride” was filmed throughout Fairfield County.

Many scenes took place right here, including Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Longshore and Pearl restaurant. A number of Westporters had roles as extras.

The first scene the filmmakers shot was Heather’s failed wedding. Cinematographer Jason Merrin worked on it while in town for his own wedding.

A local blog posted the call for extras. Expecting only a handful of people, Smith planned his camera angles creatively. However, the Christ & Holy Trinity pews were packed.

Lights! Camera and action came later. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

Many extras were then recruited for other background shots. One was even given a line.

The ballroom and hotel scenes were all shot at The Inn at Longshore. But the production was allowed in only on Monday through Wednesday, for 2 consecutive weeks.

Smith liked Longshore so much, he rewrote several sections to fit the grounds. He added in golf and kayak scenes.

Tickets to the premiere are $10. Chez Vous Bistro offers a $25 prix fixe 2-course dinner prior to the screening, while Flinders Lane Kitchen & Bar has happy hour drink prices and complimentary appetizers after the screening (with ticket stubs).

Email batshitbride@gmail.com for tickets and dinner reservations.

Tennis Grand Slam Comes To Westport

Tennis fans know that the Grand Slam of Tennis —  the Australian, French and US Opens, plus Wimbledon — are played on 4 different types of courts.

But you don’t have to fly to 3 continents to see them.

In fact, you don’t even have to leave Westport to play on 4 surfaces.

The town’s first Grand Slam Open is near. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles competition on private red clay, grass, hard and soft courts is set for August 16 to 18.

One court that will be used for Westport’s Grand Slam …

Each stop has a different theme, with Australian, French, English and American food and drinks. There are trophies and t-shirts at each court too.

The event also includes a ping pong tournament and pool party. Music is provided by the Dave Kardas Band — whose leader heads up the Longshore tennis program.

… a second …

The Grand Slam Open is a fundraiser for Joseph Oyebog’s tennis academy in Cameroon.

The former Davis Cup tennis player/Cameroon national champion/beloved local tennis coach has impacted thousands of youngsters in his home country. Twenty players have earned college scholarships, or obtained coaching positions in the US and Europe. Many more have gained confidence, hope and opportunity.

… a third …

Ben Sturner — who played tennis at Boston University, and runs the Leverage Agency sports marketing firm — met Joseph when he taught Ben’s children.

When Ben learned how far a little money can go in Africa, he created the Grand Slam concept. Also helping: Clair Mason (Intensity owner and Oyebog Tennis Academy board member), longtime player June Eichbaum, and Ben Stein and Evan Felcher, members of Staples High School’s state champion 2018 tennis team.

… and a fourth.

Ben and Evan are still teenagers. But Westport’s Grand Slam Open involves a centenarian too.

Lee Greenberg is 101 years old. A sign on her Saugatuck Shores home says, “Tennis bum lives here.” Sure enough, she has a grass turf court.

Ben Sturner and Joseph knocked on her door, to ask if they could use it. She invited them in. For an hour, Lee told stories about her life in tennis, and her passion for it. She’s been playing since she was 10 years old — more than 9 decades ago.

Lee was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, and moved to Westport 75 years ago. Each of her 4 homes here had a tennis court. She organized many games, with a variety of people.

Lee is also an avid sculptor. She organized the tennis art show at the opening of the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island — in 1954.

And, Lee said, years ago, Joseph taught Lee’s son Michael.

Lee Greenberg at her 100th birthday celebration with her children: Mike, Debbie and Gail.

Lee was happy to offer her court. The other 3 are in the Compo Beach neighborhood.

Players of all ages and abilities are eligible to sign up. If you prefer not to enter, no problem. Joseph will hold a clinic for non-competitors.

When it comes to helping kids, I can’t think of a better service than this.

(The suggested donation is $150 per entry. For more information, call 475-999-1335, or email BenjaminStein2000@gmail.com or carolinem@leverageagency.com.)

Joseph Oyebog

Menu Moments: What To Eat At Sakura

For over 30 years, Sakura has been a Westport favorite. It’s a go-to place for celebrations, from birthdays and graduations to family reunions. Kids never tire of the hibachi tables, while the tatami rooms in back are great for private dining.

But for many Westporters, Japanese food can still be difficult to figure out. As part of “06880”‘s continuing series on healthy eating, Dietician Heather Bauer offers tips on the best dishes to order at the Post Road landmark.

Hibachi Recommendations

  • Start with onion soup or salad (if you order salad, use ½ dressing)

Entree:

  • Choose shrimp or chicken as your protein, and enjoy the veggies. The oil/sauce entree is cooked in and will count as your carb, so try to skip the rice at this meal. Also, avoid the extra dipping sauces they give you on the side.
  • Alternative: Order the sushi recommendations below at the hibachi table.

Sushi Recommendations

Appetizer (select one):

  • Miso soup (if you are not salt-sensitive)
  • Mixed green salad (with a half-serving of ginger dressing)
  • Edamame (share)
  • Seaweed salad

Entree (choose one):

  • Order your favorite roll Naruto style (wrapped in cucumber instead of rice). I love tuna/avocado, yellowtail/jalapeno or salmon/avocado. You can also order 1 hand roll of your choice (optional request: use cucumber instead of rice).
  • 6-piece maki roll (request to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps slow you down), with 4 pieces of sashimi.
  • 6 pieces of sashimi, and a side order of oshitashi (spinach).
  • Chirashi sushi (comes with 6 pieces of sashimi over steamed rice; eat one-quarter to one-half of the rice; leave the rest over. This is a great option for naturally slower eaters).
  • Chicken or salmon teriyaki, with double steamed veggies (skip the rice, as the sauce counts as your carb here. This is a great option for anyone who does not like sushi).

Things to Avoid

  • Tempura, spider, dynamite, spicy rolls and eel.
  • Dishes described as Agemono or tempura; both are deep-fried.
  • Sushi rolls made with cream cheese and too much avocado.

Additional Notes

  • Look for rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of rice (Naruto style).
  • Order your maki roll (usually 6 pieces) to be cut into 8 pieces; this helps you take smaller bites. Also, ordering rolls inside out adds more rice (better with the seaweed on the outside).
  • If you switch your roll from white to brown rice you add fiber, which makes it more filling. Note: brown and white rice calories are about the same.
  • Edamame usually comes salted; it is soybeans, so this works best for vegetarians or slower eaters who will only have a few pieces. If you are a fast eater and not good at sharing food, don’t start the edamame until there is a quarter or half left (in case you have trouble stopping!).
  • You can also always sub the rice in a hand roll for cucumber or other veggies.
  • Always request lite soy sauce. Add wasabi and ice cubes to help dilute it. No refills!
  • Eating with chopsticks helps slow you down.
  • Be careful with sake. It has more calories than you realize. Six ounces of sake is about 240 calories (there are 150 calories in 6 ounces of wine).

It all looks great. But some options at Sakura are healthier than others.

Jacob Heimer Is Beautiful. On Broadway.

Jacob Heimer was a Barry Mann fan — even before he knew the songwriter’s name.

Growing up in Westport with eclectic musical tastes — he loved everything before, during and after the Elvis era — Heimer listened to the radio, and rummaged through his dad’s record collection.

“You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” “Walking in the Rain,” “On Broadway” — he knew them all.

At Staples High School, Jacob’s band Sally’s Place (named for the popular record shop, owned by the beloved and influential Sally White) covered “I Love How You Love Me” — a 1961 song produced by Phil Spector, co-written by Mann.

Heimer was a talented musician and actor. At 13, he was part of the the Barrington Stage Company’s professional production of “Falsettos.” His Staples Players credits include “Oliver!,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

David Roth, Alice Lipson, James Andrew, Kevin Connors — all were huge influences on Heimer.

“I have ADD. Focusing is not easy,” Heimer says. “In theater, I could direct my energy really positively. Being in the performing arts helped my grades. And I had incredible support from everyone in my life — especially my family and teachers.”

More than a decade ago, Jacob Heimer and Mia Gentile starred in Staples Players’ “Urinetown.” She’s gone on to a Broadway career, in “Kinky Boots.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

In “Falsettos,” the youngster told an older cast member that he wanted to be a professional actor. Along the way, Heimer said, he’d probably wait tables.

“Don’t have a backup plan,” the man advised.

After Staples (Class of 2006) and Syracuse University — where he took advantage of the superb Shakespeare Globe program — Heimer searched for work.

His first paid Equity gig was a young audience’s show in Florida. Then he landed an “off-off-off-off Broadway” role in an “odd production about displacement camps, with puppets,” and had a lead in “Gold Star,” an indie movie with Robert Vaughn.

Jacob Heimer and Robert Vaughn.

Cast in a Shakespeare production, he met his wife Iris, a talented actor. (She changed careers, and now works at the Center for Reproductive Rights.)

Five years ago, Heimer auditioned for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” It took a while, but he landed ensemble roles — and understudy for Barry Mann — in the first year of the jukebox musical’s national tour.

(Collage courtesy of Staples Players)

Thanks to his early introduction, Heimer knew more about Mann than he knew he knew. But after getting the role he read “Always Magic in the Air,” a book about the talented young songwriters who cranked out hit after hit — for solo artists, girl groups, rock bands, you name it — in the tiny, windowless rooms of Broadway’s Brill Building.

Heimer gained plenty of insights into Mann — including his relationship with Cynthia Weil, and “his own neuroses.”

Heimer calls the show “brilliantly written.” But after the tour ended, he and Iris headed to Italy for a vacation. On the last day — in a beautiful cave city with no cell reception — Heimer got a text from his agent. Could he play Barry Mann again for 2 months — on Broadway?

“It’s icing on the cake,” Heimer says of his current gig. He’s on stage through September 29. Ben Jacoby will resume the role in October, when the show closes after 6 years.

Making his Broadway debut a couple of weeks ago was “exhilarating,” Heimer notes. More than a dozen family members came to opening night.

“This is the most supportive group I’ve ever worked with. I was petrified — even though I knew the role. The cast didn’t know me. But they didn’t care that I wasn’t doing it like the guys before me. They welcomed me in.”

Playing Barry Mann in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre is a fantastic experience, Heimer adds. “This place was built for intimate music.”

With his long involvement with Barry Mann’s (and Carole King’s) music — even if he didn’t realize it at the beginning — does Heimer have a favorite song in the show?

Jacob Heimer (3rd from left) with the cast of “Beautiful.”

“The lyrics of ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ are so sensitive and vulnerable,” the King/Gerry Goffin tune.

“Singing ‘Walking in the Rain’ as a duet with Cynthia Weil is definitely a highlight.

“And ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ is such a great song.” Mann wanted to release it himself, Heimer says, but the Animals heard it and made it one of their anthems.

So: Has Heimer ever personally met the man he plays on stage?

Absolutely.

Barry Mann is “alive and well in California. He’s a very sweet guy.” He’s seen “Beautiful” a few times — including the Los Angeles opening, where he met Heimer.

Barry Mann (3rd from right) and Jacob Heimer share a laugh. On left are Sarah Bockel (who played Carole King) and Alison Whitehurst (Cynthia Weil) on tour.

“He told me something that made me laugh out loud,” the actor says. “I’m keeping it to myself.”

On Broadway.

Charlie Drozdyk: “Job Moron”

If you’re a college graduate looking for a job, you know: It’s tough.

In fact, if you’ve ever looked for a job, you know it’s hard.

As Charlie Drozdyk notes, for decades — centuries? — people have said, “This is a really bad time to be looking for work.” No one ever says, “This year, we have tons of jobs!”

But, Charlie adds — quoting a senior VP of programming at MTV — “There’s always jobs. And there’s never jobs.”

Charlie should know. After graduating from Staples High School in 1983, and then the University of Virginia, he’s worked on Broadway as a theater manager; in Hollywood for CBS and William Morris; in New York and San Francisco in advertising and publicity, and in Austin as COO of a software company.

Right now, he works remotely — as a “digital nomad” — in Central America for a Texas-based firm.

Charlie has also written about careers for Rolling Stone magazine. He had a weekly spot talking about jobs on CNN. HarperCollins and Random House published his books on how to get a job.

Charlie Drozdyk and friend.

He’s just published his 3rd. “Job Moron: Idiot-Proof Strategies for Getting Jobs That  Don’t Suck” offers advice to job-seekers from people who have actually gotten jobs, by doing things “differently and creatively.”

But you don’t only want to get a job. You’d like to move up! “Job Moron” has plenty of info on that too. (“You don’t have to show you can just do your job,” Charlie says. “You have to prove you can do the job above yours too.”)

He interviewed young professionals with “great jobs at great companies”: Geffen Records, the X-Games, the Whitney Museum, Chiat/Day, and top finance and software firms.

They talk about how to network (without losing your soul and integrity), land interviews, make cold calls, and create cover letters and resumes that get noticed.

They discuss what to say — and not say — in interviews. And how to write a thank-you letter that works.

Charlie weaves his own story in too. At UVa he majored in the infamous, often-mocked subject of history — and had, he says, “no contacts and no internships.”

It sounds easy. But Charlie warns: No one owes you a job. A job is possible because someone else worked hard at his or her job. They want to know how you can help them make more money.

Anyone in a position to offer you a job will do so only if they believe 2 things:

  1. You’re hungry for a job.
  2. You don’t think you’re owed one.

Charlie is a lively author. He writes plainly, clearly and bluntly. He uses salty language. He gets the reader attention.

After reading “Job Moron,” you’ll be ready to get anyone’s attention too.

And once you’ve got your foot in that job door, Charlie Drozdyk will make sure it never closes on you again.

(Click here for more information on “Job Moron.” “06880” readers can access the first 13 chapters for free.)

Marpe Challenges Hatred, Urges Civility

In the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings, First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Following the tragic events in Charlottesville 2 years ago, I stated that “there is no place for hatred and bigotry in our country,” and expressed our community’s prayers for the victims of that senseless tragedy.

Those events led to the “Hate Has No Home Here” movement in Westport and other communities. Last year, after the Parkland, Florida tragedy, I again addressed the issue of gun control and sensible gun legislation.

After another weekend of shocking headlines involving mass shootings which obviously have roots in white supremacy, and frankly, 2 more years of incidents similar to Charlottesville and Parkland, we are still faced with the challenge of inflammatory public rhetoric and hate-filled internet postings and activity.

We are fortunate that Westport is represented by national, state and local legislators and elected officials who act and speak responsibly in the face of these divisive issues.  They are committed to pursuing and enforcing responsible and effective gun control legislation, as well as condemning the racial biases demonstrated by others.

The fact that these incidents are happening on a regular basis is appalling. Each time I am asked to address them both personally and in my role as first selectman, it is done with an extremely heavy heart.

Although recent national incidents were much more horrific and tragic, the sentiment where I prompted a call to civility and respect to all Westporters after an unfortunate incident during a local public meeting last year holds true today.

I stated, “We will continue to publicly deal with issues and challenges that ignite passions on all sides, but we can’t let those passions create an air of disrespect, intimidation and bullying. I implore all Westport residents to allow their personal and public interactions to be driven by respect, tolerance and a desire to coexist in a positive manner with all of our neighbors.”

I will continue to address this issue within our community, and I will continue to denounce any form of hatred, bigotry or cultural bias.