Tag Archives: Jonathan Steinberg

Sarelli Challenges Steinberg For State Rep Seat

For a while, it looked like Democrat Jonathan Steinberg would have no opposition in his bid for a 7th term as Westport’s state representative from the 136th District. Republican Tom Lasersohn withdrew in August.

Today, Alma Sarelli announced her campaign for the seat. The press release did not identify her as a Republican, but “that was a mistake,” says spokesman Joseph Sledge.

Alma Sarelli

Sarelli — a native of Albania with a degree in business management — moved to Westport 6 years ago. She  ran as a write-in candidate last November for the Board of Education. She received 565 votes, behind the 4 candidates officially on the ballot.

Sarelli and her husband Nick run a national event entertainment production company. They have 4 children: 2 in college, and 2 at Staples High School.

Sarelli currently serves as president of Newcomers & Neighbors of Westport.

Her press release says:

“As an immigrant, a working mother of 4 children, a business owner and for better, not worse, a political novice. I am running for state representative because I want to return the focus to the basic priorities all of us share.

“I want to keep taxes down so Connecticut can compete as an attractive destination for businesses and hard working families. Education is an absolutely top priority: we need schools that focus above all on learning and achievement. We want schools truly to celebrate and respect the individuality and uniqueness of all of our children, regardless of their background or appearance — not be training camps for ideological activists.

“We also need sensible, fair and effective law enforcement that doesn’t compromise the safety of our families, particularly those in higher crime areas, to the false narratives of a few.

“Connecticut is a state with an incredible diversity of strengths. Instead of living up to our potential, we are being held back by the same policies and mismanagement bringing down so many other similarly governed states. These states are watching their populations decline, lawlessness surge and their families lose faith in public education. It doesn’t have to be this way,
but the only way to reverse it is by voting in new leadership.

“If you agree with these priorities and want to help steer Connecticut towards a different path, please support me in November. There is a widening gap between what Connecticut families actually want and what Hartford is delivering. It is time to change course.

“I stand for great schools, safe streets, responsive government and lower taxes. How will I achieve these goals? I am going to try something different. Rather than represent Connecticut’s special interests like public sector unions, state contractors and political party bosses, I am going to represent the people of Westport. I seek the support of all Westport residents. With your support
and your vote on November 8th, I will be a fierce advocate for Westport in Hartford. I will listen to your voices and ideas so we can keep Westport excellent.

“My business experience and leadership will be assets to help us build on our successes. I will also be a voice for Westporters and address the major concerns we are all experiencing.”

Click here for Sarelli’s website.

Roundup: Selectmen, Trunk Or Treat …

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Jonathan Steinberg does not want to be 3rd selectman.

T.J. Elgin does.

Now, Candice Savin does too.

The question of who will fill the final seat on the Board of Selectmen arose when Steinberg — the loser for 1st selectman in Tuesday’s election — decided to keep his day job, as Westport’s state representative in Hartford.

By law, the position goes to “the defeated candidate for First Selectman having the highest number of votes.” Elgin — a Libertarian who received just 64 votes in the race — contends that with Steinberg’s withdrawal, Elgin should be next in line. He says that Candice Savin — Steinberg’s running mate — was a candidate for second selectman, not first selectman.

The Democratic Town Committee believes that as the defeated party with the next highest number of votes, they get to fill the spot. Yesterday, they said:

The DTC recognizes the Third Selectman as a valuable member of Westport’s leadership team and would like to address any questions surrounding this potential appointment in the newly elected administration. In accordance with the Town Charter, if Jonathan Steinberg chooses not to accept this role, the DTC recommends a candidate to the newly elected First and Second Selectmen for their consideration.

Candice Savin, who ran for Second Selectman, is interested in being considered to fill the position of Third Selectman should Jonathan Steinberg choose not to accept it. Candice has expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to work with Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore for the benefit of the town. The DTC appreciates the significant contributions that Third Selectmen have made to Westport over the years and looks forward to recommending a new Democratic member to the Board of Selectmen.

If Savin is selected, Westport’s 3 selectmen would all be women, for the first time in history.

Which means we should then call it the Board of Selectwomen.

Candice Savin

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Halloween was last week, but it’s never too late to say thank you.

The United Methodist Church is grateful to all who attended Sunday’s Trunk or Treat event.

Scores of local kids (and their parents) enjoyed spooky displays in 20 car trunks  (and safely picked up lots of candy).

At the same time, a collection for area food banks was very successful. Over 40 shopping bags of groceries were donated by church members. In these times of increasing food insecurity, that’s a great “treat” for many people.

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Fall flowers are as beautiful as spring’s. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is from Jennie Lane:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … on this day in 1874, a Thomas Nast cartoon in Harper’s Weekly is considered the first important use of an elephant as a symbol for the Republican Party.

Here to celebrate elephants is Staples High School Class of 1966 graduate/longtime musician/certified “Vermont State Treasure” Jon Gailmor.

PS: Jon is most definitely not a Republican.

 

 

Tooker’s Margin: 69 Votes. Next Question: Who Is 3rd Selectman?

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%).

Jen Tooker

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.

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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

6: Candace Banks, Beth Braunstein, Jessica Bram, Cathy Talmadge

7: Brandi Briggs, Jack Klinge, Ellen Lautenberg, Lauren Karpf.

8: Wendy Goldwyn Batteau, Lisa Newman, Stephen Shackelford, Rachel Steel Cohn.

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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.”

1st Selectman Race: Too Close To Call

With some absentee ballots still outstanding, Westport’s 1st Selectman race is too close to call.

Republican 2nd Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and running mate Andrea Moore lead Democratic State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and running mat Candace Savin, 4,210 votes to 4,149. That’s a 61 vote difference.

Libertarian candidate TJ Elgin garnered just 57 votes total.

Democratic candidates for other offices — contested ones like Planning & Zoning, uncontested ones like Board of Finance, as well as the Board of Education, where write-in candidate Alma Sarelli lags far back –all lead their Republican opponents.

 

Dems, Reps Set November Slates

The candidates for November’s local elections are set.

Meeting electronically last night, both parties endorsed slates with great enthusiasm, and little debate.

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and Board of Education chair Candice Savin were nominated for 1st and 2nd Selectman, respectively. Steinberg was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee’s Nominating Committee, which interviewed 5 potential candidates. His vote was 57 for, 2 against and 1 abstention.

The Democrats also nominated incumbents Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer and Neil Cohn for the Planning & Zoning Commission; Kevin Christie and Christina Torres for the Board of Education; incumbents Lee Caney and Brian Stern for the Board of Finance; Josh Newman and Amy Wistreich for the Zoning Board of Appeal, and Ifeseyi Gayle and incumber Lynette Pineda for the Board of Assessment Appeals.

In an acknowledgment of recent controversy, several DTC members — including Steinberg, nominating chair Andrew Nevas and Rob Simmelkjaer — spoke of the need for unity and cohesion.

Steinberg accepted the nomination promising a return to Westport values, closing with a commitment to “Westport, better than ever.”

Jen Tooker — current 2nd selectwoman — leads the Republican ticket, for 1st selectman. Her running mate is Board of Finance vice chair Andrea Moore.

The GOP also nominated Robert Harrington, Dorie Hordon and incumbent vice chair Karen Kleine for the Board of Education; Michael Keller for the Board of Finance; former Planning & Zoning Commission member Jack Whittle for that office, and incumbent Joe Sledge for the Board of Assessment Appeals.

“We are absolutely delighted with our strong slate of candidates,” said RTC nominating committee chair Jim Foster.

“I am convinced  Westport’s future will remain bright. Our candidates understand the challenges and  opportunities facing Westport, and they are the best prepared, most qualified public servants to  lead us forward.”

The election — which includes all 36 non-partisan Representative Town Meeting positions — is November 2.

Hamlin Withdraws Lawsuit Against Steinberg

A lawsuit against 1st Selectman candidate Jonathan Steinberg has been withdrawn.

Plaintiff Kristan Hamlin withdrew the complaint yesterday. The day before, she had dropped a lawsuit against Democratic Town Committee secretary Lisa Newman.

The DTC meets tonight to select candidates for selectmen and various town boards, for the November election. Steinberg is expected to be nominated for 1st selectman.

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg

Hamlin Withdraws Suit Against DTC Member

Kristan Hamlin has withdrawn her lawsuit against Democratic Town Committee member Lisa Newman. Hamlin — also a DTC member — was seeking damages, based on alleged defamatory statements.

Hamlin’s lawsuit against 1st selectman hopeful Jonathan Steinberg is still pending.

Hamlin says:

“I have instructed my counsel to withdraw without prejudice the complaint I brought against Jonathan Steinberg’s former campaign manager and DTC Secretary, Lisa Newman. This means it can be re-brought at any time within 2 years of the defamatory remarks that she has made against me, and which are described, in part, in the complaint.

“My counsel (William P. Lalor) has accommodated my wishes, and issued this statement:

The complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiff sets forth well-pleaded causes of action and is supported by evidence of the defamation that includes written communications and recorded voicemail, along with willing witnesses. My client, in an abundance of good faith, has instructed me  to withdraw the operative complaint on a “without prejudice” basis as against defendant Lisa Newman, in order to give settlement discussions an opportunity, and importantly, so that the Wednesday Democratic Town Committee caucus can proceed without the public specter of division that Ms. Hamlin feels has  been created by the present DTC leadership.

Hamlin continued: “If Ms. Newman  can refrain from personalized attacks against me and others in the community, and is able to stick to the merits of political arguments, grow and benefit from reasoned dissent, and focus on unity instead of calumny, then this offer of peace will be rewarded. If instead she pursues a pattern of ugly, vicious personalized attacks against me and/or other members of our Democratic community, then she will return us to the status quo ante, the lawsuit  will be revived, and we will be back to this place, which is disruptive for our democratic community.

“I will be watching her conduct carefully, which she may pursue directly, or through counsel and others, and so should our DTC. If the defamation suit against Ms. Newman needs to be resuscitated because  the defendant was unable to embrace an opportunity for peace and instead continued down the path of denigrating and disparaging me either directly or through others who she employs, the DTC will all then understand that she/they are the authors of what ensues. I hope the defendant will advantage herself of this gesture of peace, quit personalized attacks against me and others, and rise to the higher angels of her nature. I hope she will make a mature commitment to peace within our DTC so that other, innocent candidates can win their races for the boards they seek without such distractions.”

Newman’s attorney Josh Koskoff says:

“Facing the prospect of an impending motion to dismiss her case for lack of merit along with the risk of having to pay costs associated with having to defend against her baseless claims, the plaintiff, Kristan Hamlin, withdrew her lawsuit against Lisa Newman today without any settlement on Ms. Newman’s part.

“The plaintiff had sought more than $15,000 of compensatory damages, along with unspecified punitive damages against Ms. Newman for allegedly defaming the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that Ms. Newman made false and defamatory statements concerning her in an executive committee meeting of the Westport Democratic Town Committee on May 10 of this year including statements, for example, that ‘the plaintiff was trying to undermine the DTC’s candidates, that the plaintiff was a liar and a bully who mistreated her Committee members’ and ‘that there were people who did not want to join the DTC because of plaintiff.’

“The plaintiff herself did not attend the meeting, but 2 witnesses who actually were present at the meeting signed affidavits attesting to the fact that Ms. Newman made no such comments and in fact remained mostly silent during the meeting. Ms. Newman was also prepared to argue that even if she did make such statements – which she did not – they would not have been actionable by arguing that the statements were nevertheless true and that the truth of a statement is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation.

“Ms. Newman is pleased to have the distraction and anxiety caused by this unnecessary case out of the way and the time spent in defending herself back, so that she can re-dedicate herself to being an unpaid civil servant as secretary of the Westport DTC, and a member of the RTM, along with the role that matters most to her: raising her 3 young children.”

CLARIFICATION: Steinberg Running For 1st Selectman — Not Official Dem Selection Yet

“06880” reported this morning that the field is set for the selectman’s race this fall.

In fact, while Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin have filed documents with the town clerk to run, the formal nominating process has not yet taken place.

The Democratic Town Committee caucus will occur in the last week of July. At that meeting there will be recommendations from the Nominating Committee for the selectman’s race, and others.

But other candidates may be nominated from the floor. The officially endorsed candidate will be made by a vote of DTC members at that meeting.

 

[UPDATE] Jonathan Steinberg, Candice Savin Enter Race For Selectmen

Democratic State Representative Jonathan Steinberg has entered the race for 1st Selectman.

His running mate is Board of Education chair Candice Savin.

Steinberg — a native Westporter, and 1974 Staples High School graduate — is in his 6th term as state representative. As co-chair of the Public Health Committee, he worked closely with the Department of Public Health and governor’s office on COVID response.

A long-term member of both the Transportation and Energy & Technology Committees, he has addressed issues like electric vehicles, solar power and infrastructure. In Hartford, where he is a leader of the House Democratic Moderates Caucus, Steinberg has also been at the forefront of budget issues.

Jonathan Steinberg

Before joining the legislature, Steinberg spent 7 years on Westport’s RTM. He was elected unanimously 3 times as deputy moderator. He represented the RTM on the Town Plan Implementation Committee. He also co-founded the Westport Cinema Initiative, to bring a movie theater downtown.

Steinberg’s political career follows nearly 2 decades in healthcare marketing, with Fortune 100 companies. A graduate of Yale College and NYU’s Stern School of Business (MBA), his hobbies include softball, golf and antiquing. He and his wife Nancy have 3 children — all Staples graduates — and are members of Temple Israel, which his grandfather helped found.

Steinberg cites “friends on both sides of the political aisle, combining compromise with the need to move forward,” and more than 20 years’ experience in strategic analysis and decision-making in the business world, as reasons to run for 1st selectman.

“I have a vision for Westport,” he says. “No one will work harder than me.” Referring to the hours he puts in, he jokes he is one of the state’s “best minimum-wage workers.”

Jonathan Steinberg, in Hartford.

Steinberg’s vision includes reinstating “brown bag lunches,” implementing many of the Downtown Plan ideas (such as dredging the river, and embracing it for multi-use), encouraging economic vitality, and initiating conversations on topics like what to do with Baron’s South.

“The flip side of the pandemic is so much pent-up energy,” he says. “New families are here, looking to do things in new ways. I love the spirit of volunteerism here. Everyone wants to get involved, however, they can.”

Steinberg applauds Westport’s environmental awareness, but sees opportunities to do even more, in areas from expanded composting to additional solar panels. He’s interested too in expanding diversity among town employees, and encouraging mass transit.

All his ideas, he says, “relate to our values as a community.”

Steinberg says that “over many years, our selectmen have served our community well. We are proud of their managerial competence.” However, he would ask, “How can we do things differently? Do we need a director of economic development? What about charter revision?

“I think we can do a better job of interfacing with the community. I really want dialogue with residents, commissions and boards. I’d hit the ground running. I don’t have too many preconceptions. But I’m prepared to lead.”

Steinberg is pleased to run with Savin. “She’s demonstrated true leadership,” he says of her work with the Board of Education.

“Her ability to take on different tasks is what I want in a partner. We’d work together like (former selectmen) Gordon Joseloff and Shelly Kassen did.”

Candice Savin

Savin — a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Duke University School of Law — began her career as a New York City prosecutor. After moving to Westport in 2002 with her husband and 2 small children, she built a thriving real estate law practice.

As Board of Ed chair she faced a series of challenges: a controversial superintendent of schools, mold at Coleytown Middle School, and COVID.

She is motivated by “a strong focus on kids, and the importance of consistency and excellence in our schools.” She is proud to have led the board during the past few difficult years. “Our schools are in a really good place now,” Savin says. “We have strong leadership and vision, and greatly improved maintenance.”

Savin — whose community involvement includes co-chairing the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening”; leading The Conservative Synagogue’s rabbi search, and serving as the Democratic Town Committee’s finance chair — says a major factor in her decision to run is “the chance to work with Jonathan. He’s decisive, he gets things done, he works super-hard for Westport, and he knows the issues better than anyone.

“We’re a great team. We know everyone, from young people to seniors. We have a broad connection to the community. And we both know how to build consensus, make tough decisions, be inclusive as possible, and lead in the right direction. We’ll be true to Westport’s values: the arts, environment, inclusion, and taking care of our neediest citizens.”

(Click here for the Steinberg/Savin website.)

 

Unofficial Results: Westport Goes Blue

Unofficial results — but including in-person voting, and absentee and early drop-off ballots — show Westporters favoring Democrats in every contest yesterday.

The Biden-Harris presidential ticket outpolled Trump=Pence, 12,775 to 4,184.

Congressman Jim Himes was re-elected to his 7th term in the 4th District, helped by 11,968 Westport votes to challenger Jonathan Riddle’s 4,881.

In Connecticut’s 26th Senatorial district, Will Haskell won a 2nd term, aided by 10,230 Westport votes to 4,721 for Republican Kim Healy.

Democrat Michelle McCabe outpolled Republican incumbent Tony Hwang 1,198 to 843 in Westport. But results in the rest of the State Senate District 28 came in slowly, and as of 5 a.m. today, McCabe’s lead in the entire district was less than 100 votes. That outcome is uncertain.

Six-term state Representative Jonathan Steinberg beat back a challenge from fellow Staples High School graduate Chip Stephens, with 10,446 Westport votes compared to 5,266 in the 136th District.

Democrat Stephanie Thomas led Patricia Zukaro , 753 to 480, in Westport. Final results from the entire District 143 are not yet in.

Overall, more than 85 percent of Westport’s registered voters participated in the 2020 election, either by mail, drop-off or in person.