Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore made history last week. They were sworn in as 1st and 2nd selectwomen — the first time 2 females occupied to town’s top spots.
They made history again. As a special meeting of the Board of Selectwomen, they chose Candice Savin as 3rd selectwoman. This marks the 1st time in the town’s 186 years that all 3 members are female.
Savin was quickly sworn in, in the selectwomen’s meeting room, by Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton.
The swearing-in ceremony.
Savin’s route to Town Hall began when she ran on the Democratic ticket, with 1st selectman candidate Jonathan Steinberg. They lost to the Republican candidates by 69 votes.
Steinberg declined the 3rd selectman’s seat, citing his obligations as Westport’s state representative in Hartford.
Libertarian candidate T.J. Elgin — who received 64 votes — claimed he was then the rightful 3rd selectman, since Savin had run for the 2nd post. He filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, but withdrew it yesterday.
Savin — whose most recent position was Board of Education chair — was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee last week.
The new 3rd selectwoman told “06880”: “I am so pleased to take on this role, and look forward to working with Jennifer Tooker and Andrea Moore on behalf of our town.”
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.
Results of yesterday’s election — filed with the Secretary of the State — show just how tight the selectman’s race was.
Jennifer Tooker and running mate Andrea Moore edged Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin 4,237 votes to 4,168. The winning Republican ticket had 50.03% of the vote, to the Democrats’ 49.21.
Libertarians TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio garnered just 64 votes (0.76%).
But Elgin may become Westport’s 3rd selectman.
Steinberg — currently in his 6th term as a state representative — has declined the 3rd selectman’s position. By statute — and long Westport tradition — it goes to the candidate for 1st selectman who places second in the voting.
Steinberg chairs the legislature’s Public Health Committee, and serves on the Transportation, and Energy and Technology, Committees too.
He told Westport Journal this afternoon that he does not want to be a “third wheel” on the 3-person selectmen board.
Elgin believes that the 3rd selectman position should not go to Savin — Steinberg’s running mate — but rather to him.
The town charter says: “The defeated candidate for First Selectman having the highest number of votes shall be elected a Selectman.” Elgin contends that because Savin was not a candidate for first selectman, he should be next in line for the post.
Assistant town attorney Eileen Lavigne Flug says, however, that there is only one second place candidate for first selectman: Steinberg. If he declines the post, Flug said, Tooker and Moore must appoint a Democrat to replace him.
Meanwhile, Democrats led in all other races. The results:
Board of Education (contested)
Party-endorsed Democrats Kevin Christie (5,097 votes) and Christina Torres (5,177) and Republicans Robert Harrington (3,850) and Dorie Hordon (3,913) will form a newcomers’ majority on the 7-person board. Write-in candidate Alma Sarelli received 130 votes, and was not elected.
Planning and Zoning Commission (contested)
Democratic incumbents (and Save Westport Now-endorsed Danielle Dobin (5.396), Michael Cammeyer (5,095) and Neil Cohn (4,923) return to office. Republican Jack Whittle (3,368) failed in his bid to recapture his old seat. Coalition for Westport candidate Ron Corwin (786) also lost.
Board of Finance (uncontested)
Democratic incumbents Brian Stern (5,207 votes) and Lee Caney (4,950) will be joined by Republican Michael Keller (4,100).
Board of Assessment Appeals (contested)
Democrats Lynette Pineda (4,547) and Heseyl Gayle (4,446) were elected. Republican Town Committee chair Joseph Sledge (3,470) lost.
Zoning Board of Appeals (uncontested)
Josh Newman and Amy Wistreich were elected.
Representative Town Meeting
Three districts had contested races.
In District 1, Liz Milwe (436), Matthew Mandell (360), Chris Tait (337) and Kristin Mott Purcell (277) won. Abby Tolan (253) and Rick Jaffe (228) lost.
In District 3, Jimmy Izzo (403), Mark Friedman, Don O’Day (35) and Arline Gertzoff (328) won. Ross Burkhardt (252) lost.
In District 9, Kristin Schneeman (427), Nancy Kail (401), Sal Liccione (347) an Lori Church 9343) won. Clark Thiemann (315) and Marla Cowden (300) lost.
Winners in the uncontested districts:
2: Joy Keenan, Harris Falk, Louis Mall, Christine Meiers Schatz.
4: Andrew Colabella, James Bairaktaris, Noah Hammond, Jeffrey Wieser.
5: Peter Gold, Dick Lowenstein, Karen Kramer, Claudia Shaum
The Democratic Town Committee issued this statement earlier today: “The Westport Democratic Town Committee congratulates Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore on their election as Westport’s next first and second selectmen. Their success is Westport’s success. We look forward to working together to keep Westport the vibrant and welcoming place that we all cherish.”
Though the Secretary of the State has not yet announced official results, incumbent 2nd selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and running mate Andrea Moore of the Board of Finance appear to have defeated State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and running mate Candice Savin of the Board of Education.
Tooker — who served in the second spot during 1st selectman Jim Marpe’s second term — will be the first Republican 1st selectwoman in Westport history. Three predecessors — Jacqueline Heneage. Martha Hauhuth and Diane Goss Farrell — were all Democrats. This is also the first time in town history that the top two offices are held by women.
She, Moore and Steinberg — who joins the board as 3rd selectman — take office later this month.
Westport’s new 1st selectwoman Jen Tooker (right) and 2nd selectwoman Andrea Moore
Steinberg and Savin ran behind most other Democrats. In one of the few contested races, Planning & Zoning commissioners Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer and Neil Cohn outpolled Republican Jack Whittle — making a bid to return to the post he once held — and Coalition for Westport candidate Ron Corwin.
The Board of Education was uncontested, until independent Alma Sarelli mounted a late write-in campaign. She received about 3% of the vote, far behind Democrats Kevin Christie and Christina Torres and, behind them, Republicans Robert Harrington and Dorie Hordon.
In the uncontested Board of Finance race, Democratic incumbents Brian Stern and Lee Caney outdistanced Republican Michael Keller.
This morning, the 2nd selectwoman announced she’s running for the town’s top spot. First Selectman Jim Marpe said yesterday that he will not run for a 3rd term.
Tooker was elected with Marpe in 2017. Her running mate this time is Andrea Moore, vice chair of the Board of Finance. Like Marpe, both are Republicans.
As 2nd selectwoman Tooker launched Westport Together, an alliance between the town and Westport Public Schools.
She also created and hosts Westport Means Business, a series of events through which business owners and entrepreneurs make connections, exchange ideas and promote Westport.
Last May, in the early months of the pandemic, Marpe appointed Tooker as chair of the ReOpen Westport advisory team.
Tooker — a longtime member of the Board of Finance, Board of Education and Conservation Commission — left her 22-year career with Gen RE’s US and European reinsurance markets in 2013.
Since then — and continuing as 2nd selectwoman — Tooker has created ties with the Westport and Fairfield County business communities. She served on the board of directors for the Women’s Business Development Council, which provides training and financial education to female small business owners around the state.
Tooker is also involved in education, with a focus on closing the achievement gap in Connecticut. She was a board member of the State Education Resource Center, the Education Commission for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the Adam J. Lewis Academy.
Tooker’s other volunteer efforts include the Westport Weston Family YMCA board of trustees and Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund committee; Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and its 21st Century Foundation board, and coaching with the Westport Soccer Association.
Second selectman Jennifer Tooker’s shirt sent a message at a meeting to promote local women-owned businesses.
Tooker earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and international relations from the University of Notre Dame. She and her husband Mo have 3 children: Jack, Riley and Nicole. Her parents recently moved to Westport.
“It has been a privilege to serve Westport as second selectwoman,” Tooker says. “This is an amazing town where we enjoy an excellent quality of life. I’ve been part of the team that has worked diligently to ensure Westport is a great place to live and work.
“This community deserves a local government that is accessible and accountable with leadership skills, management expertise and a strategic perspective. As first selectman I will continue to bring these skills to Town Hall every day. It would be an honor to lead Westport, the community we all call home, and foster an even greater sense of community and belonging for all our residents and business owners.”
Tooker’s running mate was elected to the Board of Finance in 2017, and selected as vice chair 2 years later. Moore also serves on the board’s audit subcommittee.
Previously she represented District 9 on the RTM. Her committee work included Education, Public Protection, and Library and Museums.
Moore has worked for over 20 years in financial services, with positions in institutional equity sales, equity research and investment banking at firms including UBS, BT Deutsche Bank and Salomon Brothers.
A native Westporter and Staples High School graduate, Moore is member of the YMCA board of trustees. She has served on the National Charity League’s Westport board, and is a former president of Staples Tuition Grants, Saugatuck Elementary School PTA, and A Child’s Place preschool board. She also co-chaired the Westport Public Schools’ Workshopo Committee.
Moore received a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Massachusetts School of Management. She and her husband Dave have 3 daughters: Tessa, Janna and Ella.
Moore says, “It is an honor to run alongside Jen Tooker, a truly accomplished leader for Westport. I am continually impressed with the effective, bipartisan way Jen solves problems and drives positive change. Westport is a truly special place to call home, and I know Jen will work every day to bring people together, represent our community with the utmost integrity, and employ a fresh perspective to meet challenges and new opportunities in the days ahead.”
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